• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Trump, North Korea, and Iran

Photo by Dan Scavino Jr. | Public Domain

As one of the original settlers of the sparsely populated territory situated between the deranged and warring states of Antitrumplandia and Philotrumplandia, I’m breathing easier today.

Anyone who longs for peace and an end to the big-power nuclear threat can only welcome what Trump and Kim did in Singapore this week. It’s just the beginning, of course, and things could go south at any time, but — and this shouldn’t have to be said — it’s preferable to other available alternatives. Trump’s earlier threats were insanely reckless and risky, and I stand by that judgment. One cannot point to Tuesday as proof that Trump’s initial stance was reasonable. No person with a gram of historical knowledge — not to mention moral decency — can think that peace-making required a threat to visit “fire and fury” on an entire society. In fact, Trump’s threat did not get Kim to the table; on the contrary, Kim’s nuclear tests and South Korean President Moon got Trump to the table.

I can’t be sure why Trump turned around and did what he did. Maybe he thought it through carefully and concluded what many had: an agreement that includes a cessation of the provocative U.S. rehearsals of aggressive war and “security guarantees” (a peace treaty and nonaggression pledge?) was the only way to avoid an unimaginable calamity. Or maybe he just figured this is his best shot at a Nobel Peace Prize. Who cares? Peace is the priority. If Trump’s legendary ego can be harnessed in its service, I say let’s do it.

I’ll up the ante. On the day they award Trump (and Kim and Moon) the Nobel Prize, they should take Obama’s away. He could have done what Trump did, but he wouldn’t.

The so-called progressives who bad-mouthed Trump in the months before the summit and who must not have consulted the hopeful South Koreans should be ashamed of themselves. (Bernie Sanders is an honorable exception.) Is their unending tantrum over having lost to Trump really more important than peace? Can you imagine what they would have been saying if Obama had met with Kim (or for that matter, what the Republicans would have been saying)? State-based politics is a cesspool. (Obama and his predecessors could have had a deal with Kim or his father or grandfather, but every step forward was wrecked by hardliners on the U.S. side.)

Even with this broad, first-step agreement, the inhabitants of Antitrumplandia can’t shut up. The Washington Post says there were losers from the summit. Who lost? The victims of North Korean human-rights abuses, the Post says — as though they would benefit from war or continued, increasingly unstable cold war. Their best chance is normalization of relations between Kim and the West. Isolation does them no good.

And while we’re on the subject, should Kim have raised America’s dismal human-rights record? (Oh my! Not moral equivalence!) You know, mass incarceration, CBP’s separating immigrant kids from their parents, ICE raids, cops shooting innocent people with impunity, torture, secret CIA prisons, Guantanamo, support for dictatorships, drone-bombing of civilians, painful economic sanctions, etc.

Meanwhile, the New York Times pokes Trump for thinking he can succeed with Kim merely by the force of his personality. While the architects and propagandists of America’s foreign policy for the last N years tear themselves up over whether the U.S. can trust Kim, they ought to be asking if Kim, in light of 70 years of dishonorable conduct, can trust the U.S. Kim is no doubt acquainted with the cases of Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi, and Iran.

And Reuters got in its shot by “reporting” on the “stunning concession” Trump made to Kim by calling a halt to regular rehearsals of the invasion and nuking of North Korea, “pulling a surprise at a summit that baffled [unnamed] allies, military officials and lawmakers from his own Republican Party.” “That was sure to rattle close allies South Korea and Japan,” the Reuters story asserted without evidence. “If implemented, the halting of the joint military exercises would be one of the most controversial moves to come from the summit. The drills help keep U.S. forces at a state of readiness in one of the world’s most tense flashpoints.”

The despicable Rachel Maddow called the cessation a “giveaway to N. Korea” and — wait for it — Putin!

But stopping the war rehearsals was the least Trump he could have done. It’s not as though his decision were irreversible, though I wish it were, and Trump said he would resume them if things don’t go well. The “progressive” hysteria over this point is especially shameful.

I’m curious: what would the critics be saying if a hostile power regularly rehearsed, along with, say, Mexico, an invasion and bombing of the U.S. just off one of the coasts?

“Critics in the United States said Trump had given away too much at a meeting that provided international standing to Kim,” Reuters continued. What critics? They were left unidentified. Might they, still smarting over Hillary Clinton’s embarrassing loss, have an ax to grind?

The choice between peacemonger and warmonger is too important to be decided according to the party or personality in the White House. “It is now urgent in the interest of liberty,” Institute for Humane Studies founder F. A. Harper wrote in the depths of the Cold War, “that many persons become ‘peace-mongers.’”

So, yes, nice work, Mr. Trump. But don’t rest on your laurels. Let’s move on to Iran. There is absolutely no good reason for his anti-Iran position. Iran was not making nuclear weapons, and American and Israeli intelligence knew it. Nevertheless, Iran agreed to the most intrusive inspections just so it could have the horrible sanctions lifted and re-enter the world economy. Iran is no threat to the American people or to anyone else, except for its internal liberal opponents. (I’m no fan of the theocracy.) Its alliance with Syria cannot be construed as aggressive in light of what the U.S. government is doing there and throughout the region. If Trump needs an excuse for changing his tune on Iran, he can say that its ally Syrian President Bashar Assad protects Christians and other religious minorities from al-Qaeda and its ilk.

We shouldn’t be naive about this. Trump’s coming to his senses on North Korea gives us no reason to think he will transfer that logic to Iran. Why not? With North Korea, Trump had South Korea’s Moon whispering good sense in his ear. With Iran, Trump is hearing different, more malevolent, voices: those of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who for their own destructive purposes prefer chaos in Iran to the status quo — and even to liberalization.

With those bad actors sitting on Trump’s shoulders, the case for optimism about the Middle East is far weaker than it is for the Korean Peninsula.

 

More articles by:

Sheldon Richman, author of America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.  He is also the Executive Editor of The Libertarian Institute.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 16, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
How Turkey’s Invasion of Syria Backfired on Erdogan
Chitrangada Choudhury – Aniket Aga
How Cotton Became a Headache in the Age of Climate Chaos
Jack Rasmus
US-China Mini-Trade Deal: Trump Takes the Money and Runs
Michael Welton
Communist Dictatorship in Our Midst
Robert Hunziker
Extinction Rebellion Sweeps the World
Peter A. Coclanis
Donald Trump as Artist
Chris Floyd
Byzantium Now: Time-Warping From Justinian to Trump
Steve Klinger
In For a Dime, in For a Dollar
Gary Leupp
The Maria Ramirez Story
Kim C. Domenico
It Serves Us Right To Suffer: Breaking Down Neoliberal Complacency
Kiley Blackman
Wildlife Killing Contests are Unethical
Colin Todhunter
Bayer Shareholders: Put Health and Nature First and Stop Funding This Company!
Andrés Castro
Looking Normal in Kew Gardens
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail