Loading...
BYH, a hamberder is like a hamburger, except served cold on a silver platter by an idiot....

A 'fantastic meeting' — for Trump and Kim

Anne Applebaum

Anne Applebaum

Loading…

Bobby Burns

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A series of U.S. and North Korean flags, side by side, lined up across a stage. The two men approach the stage from opposite sides, and then shake hands. They pose for photographs. They walk off again. This is the image, the picture, that both men wanted to project around the world. But why?

For Kim Jong Un, this moment is vindication. The wisdom of his nuclear policy has been confirmed: His tiny, poor, often hungry country, where hundreds of thousands have perished in concentration camps that differ little from those built by Stalin, has been treated as the equal of the United States of America. If Kim hadn't continued the missile program, if he hadn't enhanced his missile delivery capability, President Donald Trump would not be there.

The photographs will also help Kim solve an important problem. All dictators are insecure, and absolute dictators are absolutely more insecure than the rest. Several years ago, Kim staged the elaborate murder of his uncle, forcing the rest of the elite to watch as his rival was ripped apart by antiaircraft machine guns. Fear and terror are one way to transmit messages of power; the inspiration of admiration and awe are another. The flags and the handshake will reinforce Kim's legitimacy and make him harder to depose.

For Trump, this image addresses the somewhat different problem of his personal feelings of insecurity. Legally, his legitimacy is not in doubt. Yet Trump often seems to worry that it is. Elected without a majority, Trump repeatedly claims he has one. With no political, educational or any other qualifications, Trump ascribes to himself almost mystical, intuitive qualities instead. So far, these have failed him. In the complicated, nuanced worlds of economics and security, he has achieved nothing except destruction: of previous agreements, of institutions, even of an anodyne G-7 statement just days ago. But in Singapore, he could achieve something without discussion of complex issues, without any intellectual effort at all: a photograph, a "breakthrough," the image of the intuitive dealmaker who wants "peace."

The images coming out of Singapore are also important to Trump because he has created them. When meeting with allies, Trump does not control the narrative, nor does he decide what people will see.

Indeed, the image that came to symbolize that disastrous, angry G-7 meeting was not his own creation: It was taken by a German photographer, and it showed Chancellor Angela Merkel leaning over a table and talking down to the American president, like a parent to a child. In Singapore, by contrast, Trump controlled the optics, even deliberately giving priority to a Singaporean television station rather than the White House pool. He reveled in that ability.

"Are you getting a nice photo," he actually asked the camera operator, "So we look nice and handsome and beautiful and perfect?" As for the substance of the meeting, there wasn't any. The paper signed reiterates previous vague agreements. It promises "denuclearization," just as in the past, but without any substance, as in the past. It implies that there will now be further talks about talks, but there have been U.S.-North Korean talks before. Had any previous American president, Republican or Democrat, emerged from an event like this, in which so much was given away with so little to show for it, he would have been embarrassed and probably vilified.

But Trump and Kim are two men who survive, in politics, by insisting on their own versions of reality. Both have propaganda machines which will trumpet a great success. Both will be loudly applauded by their respective supporters. Both will gain personally, even if their countries don't. In that sense, this was indeed, as Trump said, "a really fantastic meeting."

Anne Applebaum is a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and a professor of practice at the London School of Economics. 

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

January 16, 2019

As you may have heard by now, there was a rather maddening side story to the veto override votes that took place during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day at the North Carolina General Assembly. As commentator Thomas Mills rightfully pointed out on the website Politics NC, had all…

Rob Schofield

January 16, 2019

Here are a couple of easy immigration questions — answerable with a simple "yes" or "no" — we might ask any American of any political stripe: Does everyone in the world have a right to live in the U.S.? Do the American people have a right, through their elected representatives, to…

Walter Williams

January 15, 2019

LOS ANGELES TIMES

With the conspicuous exception of President Trump and some of his supporters, Americans were appalled when it was revealed that Russian “troll farms” had launched a disinformation campaign on social media designed to influence the 2016 election. But online deception…

January 15, 2019

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., defeated Democrat Deborah Ross in 2016 in a race infused with $55 million in outside money.

We already knew North Carolina’s senior U.S. senator was awash in NRA cash. We already knew the pro-gun group spent $5.6 million in 2016 against his Democratic opponent,…

Senate 2016 North Carolina Debate-2

January 15, 2019

According to the headline at CNN, "Trump bears most blame for shutdown."

But according to the CNN/SSRS poll the story is based on, the question asked was "Who do you think is more responsible for the government shutdown?" (emphasis mine).

Those are two entirely different questions. "Blame" is only…

Knapp

January 15, 2019

If you drive into downtown Raleigh from the north, some of the first buildings you'll see are boarded-up, dilapidated brick structures on the left side of Dawson Street.

"Downtown Raleigh's supposed to have a booming real-estate market," you might think to yourself. "Surely a developer would want…

Colin Campbell

January 14, 2019

Chicago Tribune

December saw many of us nestled inside watching romantic Hallmark Channel movies, but January brings a counterpunch: a twisted Lifetime saga of sexual abuse and control. Not romance-gone-wrong escapism, this is a six-part documentary: “Surviving R. Kelly,” an examination…

January 14, 2019

Two years into his presidency, Donald Trump is still trying to convince Congress to cough up billions of hard-earned tax dollars to build his wall on the southern border with Mexico.

He originally promised voters that Mexico would pay for the 2,000-mile concrete wall, and his supporters swallowed…

lambro2

January 14, 2019

Over the past eight years, conservative lawmakers have done much to constrain the excesses, expenses, and abuses of governmental power in North Carolina. They have cut taxes, controlled spending, slashed regulations, and increased the cost-effectiveness of services by introducing more choice and…

john hood.jpg

January 13, 2019

As we predicted two weeks ago, “In the end, he [Pres. Trump] may resort to pulling funds out of the Pentagon to pay for his wall.” Now he is claiming a state of emergency exists on the Mexican border so he can do just that.

He says he can go to the Pentagon and get money for his wall,…

douglascohn.jpg
322 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 33
        Next Page»   Last Page»