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The “Ugh!” Heard Round the World: Mika Brzezinski on the Kim-Trump Summit

Photo by The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia | CC BY 2.0

Morning Joe on MSNC, Tuesday morning.

Ugh, she says.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un just had a successful Singapore summit resulting in a signed statement lifting the specter of war from the Korean peninsula.

And MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski says Ugh. He’s a dictator! Trump praised him for his “talent.” Ugh.

Can we trust the North Koreans? she asks her cable co-host and paramour Joe Scarborough. Joe authoritatively tells her no, explaining how the North Koreans have always violated their agreements. This was a glorified photo-op, he tells her.

Mika is glaring this morning. She thinks North Korea got a lot more out of the agreement than the U.S. She and Joe are focusing on Trump’s press conference comments about North Korean beaches and the prospect of condo construction. (He must be in it for the money, as usual.)

CNN’s house “presidential historian” Jon Meacham reiterates authoritatively that Kim Jong Un is oppressive. Like we didn’t know that yesterday. Like it’s relevant to the issue of denuclearization. MSNBC is pouring cold water over the summit, minimizing its significance.

Whose success do Joe and Mika so resent? I submit it’s not Trump’s so much as the success of the Korean people in rallying against Trump’s annihilation threats by concerted (north/south) action. The summit was the product of a joint effort by South Korean President Moon Jae In and Kim Jung Un; the north’s proposal for a talk was submitted through the south. The overwhelming majority of Koreans are delighted by the result. The madman backed off.

Joe inveighs about Trump’s fondness for “murderous dictators.” Putin. Erdogan. Duterte. Now Kim. Instead of reflecting on the significance of this moment in the context of Korea’s tragic history and the U.S. role in it, the charming Joe-Mika duo exude resentment at a Trump diplomatic success. They find in it further occasion to dwell on Kim’s human rights record.

Trump has referred (accurately) to U.S. training activities in South Korea as “provocative” and unnecessary and stated at his press conference in Singapore that he would end them. This is very good! MSNBC calls on Pentagon correspondent Hans Nichols to comment; he says Secretary of Defense Mattis never cleared Trump’s remarks.

David Ignatius appears and interviews Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) demanding no lifting of sanctions until full denuclearization.

MSNBC rather than rejoicing at an agreement establishing diplomatic relations, mutual commitment to lasting peace, negotiations towards complete denuclearization of the peninsula and the return of remains of U.S. troops from the north complains it’s “not a deal at all.” Yes, Eugene Robinson just said that.

You fools! Do you so disparage the approximately 75 million Korean people and their aspirations for peace, that you want to treat Singapore as some sort of scandal rather than a very positive development?

Joe calls it a “shotgun summit” and compares it to heroic Ronald Reagan’s confrontational approach to Gorbachev 30 years ago. Ignatius demands the fleshing out of details. Negativity and cynicism prevail. Mika is 100% hostile. “This is the risk one takes when Donald is alone at the table,” she gripes.  Meaning: he didn’t get all the concessions demanded by the Democrats in their recent letter to Trump.

Mika’s late dad (Zbigniew Brzezinski) famously proposed to President Jimmy Carter that the U.S. “bleed the Soviets in Afghanistan the way they bled us in Vietnam.” He spearheaded the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan after 1978. He was an inveterate anticommunist, a war-mongering Cold Warrior who rejoiced in the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Mika is a Democratic party shill, Joe a disillusioned Republican who has never rocked the boat but just come off as obnoxious. Neither of them has any intellectual substance.

But they and their team like school marms lecture their audience that North Korea is oppressive, that Kim kills his relatives, that Trump hasn’t gotten anything concrete yet. Keep worrying, people. Take no comfort in anything Trump does. Roll your eyes like Mika does. Or like Joe does. Think about it. Full diplomatic relations between Washington and Pyongyang. Potential end to U.S. war games in South Korea. Potential removal of (provocative) U.S. troops. Security guarantees for the DPRK. Deepening north-south economic ties and gradual reunification.

Ugh? Why ugh? Why ugh, Mika?

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Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

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