How can we trust when tensions run so high with North Korea?Stefan Krasowski

In what has been the latest in the sequence of tragi-comical errors on the part of Donald Trump, the leader of the free world has suggested that he would be “honoured” to meet with Kim Jong-un, the leader of the world’s most infamous dictatorship. This is a statement that defies belief and the better judgement of anyone with a fraction of a sense for international relations. Kim Jong-un is a leader who has, within the first five months of this year alone, almost certainly ordered the assassination of his half-brother, as well as orchestrating continuous missile tests that have ratcheted up tension in the region, provoking outrage from the international community. Donald Trump, a man who has on numerous occasions called for the imprisonment of Hilary Clinton, suggested he was wiretapped by former President Barack Obama, as well as accusing the media of misrepresentation and falsification, is now claiming that he would be “honoured” to meet with a man reviled by the rest of the world. This, quite frankly, is an affront to the American people, the inhabitants of East Asia, and the international community as a whole; an indefensible endorsement of a regime that is renowned for oppression and cruelty.

“Donald Trump is still living in a world of reality television boardrooms”

And yet sadly, in a sense, it comes as little surprise. Trump’s lack of understanding of the pursuit of liberty and human rights in the East Asian region was evidenced recently once more, when he invited President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte to the White House, as well as allegedly suggesting he was doing a “great job”, in flagrant disregard of President Duterte’s boasts that he has personally thrown a suspected criminal out of a helicopter (I decided that in the interests of space I would only choose one of his various infringements of human rights, but there are more than can be listed in a single article). On the other side of the world, Trump’s phone call to congratulate President of Turkey Recep Erdogan on his referendum “victory”, while other institutions questioned the legitimacy of this action, indicates a serious lack of political judgement. Regardless of the bold, democratic rhetoric that Trump and his administration put out, Trump continues to undermine it with his actions, that appear to support regimes that are internationally criticised for autocracy and questionable human rights policy.

Trump has never been known for his tact or level-headednessGage Skidmore

While I have so far suggested nothing but disparagement for Trump’s proposal, I must confess that I believe the two would likely have qualities in common; perhaps understand each other on some level. Most recently, I was struck by Trump’s objectionable disregard for the severity of his actions in a recent interview with the Fox Business Network, in which not only did he mistake the target of US missile strikes as Iraq, he also remarked that he heard the news over a “delicious chocolate cake”, and furthermore bragged to President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jingping about this event. This nonchalant, swaggering description of a decision that reportedly killed at least nine people is an action most certainly more befitting of an autocratic dictator than the President of America. Mr Trump is attempting to play, in the most frivolous sense, international politics with the lives of others.

“In the face of Donald Trump, Kim’s actions appear calculated and astute”

And here we see why Trump cannot be allowed to meet with Kim Jong-un, or if possible, be involved with American political interactions with North Korea. While in North Korea we see a serious, legitimate threat to regional stability and safety, the most credible challenge to breaking the nuclear stalemate since the Cold War, Donald Trump is still living in a world of reality television boardrooms. A man who still uses Twitter as a channel of diplomatic relations and who is baited into petty retorts by personal attacks over social media should not, regardless of democratic mandate, be entrusted with such a delicate negotiation. Given that at the height of the 1993 missile crisis in North Korea, Bill Clinton, almost unanimously regarded as a more competent politician than ‘The Donald’, was seriously considering military action in spite of the heavy casualties predicted (perhaps he was eating an especially delectable Pavlova at the time), I most certainly do not trust Donald Trump with negotiations that would have very real consequences for not only his own country, or the immediate East Asian region but also the world as a whole.

While much has recently been speculated about Kim Jong-un’s rationality and even sanity, in the face of Donald Trump his actions appear calculated and astute. A United States that is easily provoked and internationally controversial plays conveniently into the anti-American narrative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Although it would be one thing for the President of the United States to entertain the possibility of entering into talks with North Korea (as did the recently-elected President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in) to suggest it would be an honour is an affront to democratic freedoms around the world. It’s also an affront to the plight of the citizens of North Korea, and this obscene statement further demonstrates Trump’s ignorance of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, and its global democratic significance

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