Editor’s Note: The following is Michael Huling’s weekly Highlight.
On Tuesday, President Trump met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un at a historic summit in Singapore. After several weeks of drama nearly derailed the meeting, the event went on as planned.
There are plenty of interesting takeaways from the summit, and it’s currently unclear how the negotiations will progress from here. Trump has willingly hurled insults at Kim in the past, famously calling him “Rocket Man” and proclaiming that his nuclear button is “much bigger and more powerful” than Kim’s. These Trumpian jibes aren’t much of a surprise to anyone by now, but Trump’s dramatic change in rhetoric during and after the meeting has many people confused.
Trump has been rather complimentary of Kim over the past few days, referring to him more as an ally and friend than an enemy and dictator. He explained that Kim is “very talented” and “loves his country very much.” Of course, Kim is talented and loving in the same way that Zedong, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Castro all were. Trump went on to say of Kim’s rise to power, “Well he is very talented. Anybody who takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it, and run it tough.” Strange praise for the genocidal dictator of a gulag state whom starves, tortures, and murders the citizens of his nation, including members of his own family.
Last year, it was correctly explained that “No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea. It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more.”
Who was it that offered this criticism of the Kim regime? Well, none other than President Trump.
Some think that all of this is simply more brilliant 4-D chess from the president, utilizing a masterful bait-and-switch to lure North Korea into denuclearization. After all, Trump is clearly the most skillful negotiator in the history of negotiators, maybe ever. Believe me.
There have even been folks suggesting that The Art of the Deal (one of several books not actually written by Trump but with his name on it) should be mandatory reading for high school students.
People who don’t read books and write about how they think “affairs are romantic” probably shouldn’t give reading recommendations to students, but I digress.
The hypocrisy of many of the Right with regard to the diplomatic measures taken by Trump has been discomforting, to say the least. I’m old enough to remember when conservatives vociferously condemned the disastrous Iran Deal under the Obama administration, and applauded Trump for pulling the U.S. out of the agreement. The deal had extreme flaws that included allowing Iran to continue funding its nuclear program and fully reinstate it within a decade. Moreover, the Obama administration agreed to send Iran $1.7 billion in an effort to secure the deal. The funds were promptly used to fund Iranian terrorists supported by the Iran government. It turns out that when you give money to terrorist states with ambitions of nuclear development, they use those funds for terrorism and nuclear development.
President Obama took a diplomatic approach to a genocidal terror-sponsoring government, and it was a complete and utter failure that emboldened a regime whose parliament proudly chants “Death to America” while burning the American flag. The Left celebrated the Iran Deal as a crucial move to cordial relations and regional peace.
Fast forward to this week, and the roles have completely reversed. Many conservatives are praising Trump for his diplomatic efforts and clamoring for him to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Never mind the fact that nothing substantive has actually happened yet. The promises of “denuclearization” don’t hold much weight, considering North Korea has agreed to it many times in the past and not followed through.
Many on the Left have strangely found a new distaste for diplomacy with genocidal dictators, arguing that the president shouldn’t work with a tyrant like Kim, especially without any concessions. They argue the meeting itself legitimizes Kim on the international stage, and any agreement or treaty will backfire. It seems obvious that if Obama were in office and handling this situation the exact same way, the responses from both sides would switch. Progressives would cheer Obama for his leadership and charisma, bringing the world closer to peace. Conservatives would attack Obama for validating the Kim regime while tossing the dictator one compliment after another.
I’m generalizing to some degree, but the underlying point is undoubtedly true. As the divisiveness and tribalism within our nation continue to increase, so does the extreme hypocrisy of both sides. The end goal of this issue should be the same for everyone: long-term peace and denuclearization of North Korea. Not the half-hearted denuclearization agreements of the past, but complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization (CVID) to ensure we don’t continue to grapple with the same problem.
Diplomacy in and of itself is not a victory, but a strategy. It’s a means to an end. Whether it’s worthwhile or successful is unclear until we reach that end. We haven’t had much success getting there in the past with North Korea, but maybe that will change this time around. We simply don’t have that answer yet, which is why triumphantly celebrating or vehemently condemning the Singapore summit is short-sighted and demonstrates the ignorant shortcomings of our tribal tendencies.
The Fun Stuff:
My apologies for not having a Highlight last week. I don’t have a great excuse, other than turning 21 turned into a three week celebration. The weekend in Vegas was definitely a lot of fun, and I look forward to a return trip in the near future. Since then, I’ve slowly been coming back down to earth and getting into some semblance of a routine. I started working out again this week, and I’ve forgotten how tough it is to start after having not worked out for awhile. I’d rather not say how long it has been, but long enough that getting up and down the stairs has been quite difficult.
I don’t want to dive too deep into sports this week, mostly because I’m still annoyed with the Warriors winning another title. If only Chris Paul hadn’t gone down at the end of game five in the conference finals…
The NBA offseason should be very interesting, with stars like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George possibly signing with new teams. Some have speculated that all three will end up on the Lakers, which is unlikely and also makes me want to throw up. I hate the Lakers. I’m not sure where LeBron goes, if anywhere, but Philadelphia could be a real possibility given their talented young duo of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. I think that either Leonard or George will go to Houston, and the other will sign with the Lakers. We’ll see what happens, but I’m intrigued to see how it’ll all play out.
The Yankees continue to play well, holding the best record in all of baseball. The Red Sox are right behind them, with both teams having been neck and neck for the past few weeks. We’re getting into the dog days of the season when good teams begin to separate themselves from the pack, so it’ll be fascinating to see if underachieving teams like the Dodgers and Nationals can find their stride, and if overachievers such as the Mariners and Brewers can continue to play well.
When I was a little kid, I loved going to Sea World. The animals, rides, food, and shows always made for a great day. While this was before the infamous Blackfish documentary ruined much of the social reputation of Sea World (rightfully), these are still fond memories from my childhood. Specifically, I was always memorized by the “Shamu Show,” where orcas (killer whales) would display incredible feats of intelligence and athleticism. I’ve been captivated by the species ever since, so when I came across the video below, I couldn’t help but watch it several times.
Creatures like these are the reason I briefly considered switching my major to evolutionary biology. We’re constantly discussing the potential of life on other planets and the future of artificial intelligence, and for good reason. Both of these topics are interesting and important, but we often neglect what’s right in front of us. Incredible animals like orcas offer a reminder of just how remarkable our world is, even if there’s so much left to be discovered.
Lastly, I’ve had several conversations about the feud between Young America’s Foundation (YAF) and Turning Point USA (TPUSA). I’m going to refrain from commenting on the issue publicly, for now. I’ve expressed my thoughts on the matter extensively in private already, so if anyone would like to discuss or learn more about it, feel free to reach out to me.
Have a great week and God bless.
Follow the author on Twitter @michael_huling