The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Summit's Happening Here

Rich Galen

Thursday June 14, 2018

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  • I think Donald Trump did just fine in Singapore.

  • I stayed up as late as I could to follow the goings-on earlier this week. Like you and everyone else, I had no idea what was going to happen:
    Would Kim Jong Un even show up?

    Would Donald Trump decide he couldn't do business with Kim in the first minute and leave?

    Would the interpreters get into a shouting match accusing one another of translator-skullduggery?

  • It appeared to proceed according to the sort-of-scripted-reality-show world we have come to expect during the presidency of Donald Trump. That included a made-for-this-summit video pointing out the advantages to Kim and his countrymen of striking a deal. It was, apparently, produced in English and Korean.

  • I think Kim speaks (and reads) English as well as I do, having gone to an English-language boarding school in Switzerland for at least some of his high school years.

  • Skipping over the details which you either watched or read about, where did this summit leave the U.S. and North Korea?

  • I said on MSNBC the other day that as Donald Trump sees every encounter like a zoning fight: Do I get my curb cut? Can I plant (or remove) those trees? Everything he does is transactional so once having gotten the decision he wanted, he leaves the long-term implementation to others while he moves off to his next zoning fight.

  • A high school friend, Gary Meyers (an ALWAYS Trumper and probably the smartest kid in West Orange Mountain High Class of 1964) wrote to me:
    You could also say he made an extremely important, positive first step toward resolving an extremely important issue. Isn't that what it will amount to, if he follows through with the verification details?

  • That doesn't mean I think this summit was a scam. It was not.

  • Trump gave away more than he got: The flags, the one-on-one meeting, the handshakes, the document signing, the promise to stop or at least reduce the scope of the joint training exercises with the South Korean military were all gift wrapped and stacked on the table.


    Speaking of tables, at the meeting with advisors, the U.S. side included (in addition to Trump and the translator) the White House CoS, the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor.

    The North Korean side had (in addition to Kim and his translator) the Foreign Minister and both Vice-Chairs of the Communist Party.

    That led me to wonder just how much room Kim Jong Un had to maneuver, what with both of his deputies sitting in to keep track and presumably to report back.


  • I also said on Ari Melber's program that nothing Trump gave away couldn't be taken back with the stroke of a pen or even a phone call.

  • The issue of verification of the de-nuclearization (God, I wish there were a better term for that) of North Korea was either not mentioned, or was mentioned only so the U.S. side could say they mentioned it.

  • Newt Gingrich, quoting Ronald Reagan's famous "Trust but verify," said on Fox "We have to trust but verify, verify, verify, verify."

  • The oddest thing that happened was Dennis Rodman not just showing up in Singapore but being interviewed by CNN's Chris Cuomo. I Tweeted (@richgalen) how strange it was that Dennis Rodman did not have the weirdest hairdo in Singapore. Maybe not even in 2nd place.

  • This summit was upside down in that the principals met first and now, presumably, the diplomats, inspectors, and experts will hammer out the details. In most cases the principles swoop in at the end after the fine points have been agreed to.

  • Nevertheless, this is a far better state of affairs than Trump offering to measure each man's "nuclear button" while calling Kim "Little Rocket Man" and Kim lighting off ballistic missiles while calling Trump a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard."

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: An explanation of the title, a photo of the working group, and a piece about Kim Jong Un's stay at boarding school.

    The Mullfoto is a nice shot of the sentinels atop the Mayflower Hotel in downtown D.C.

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