The ineptitude is becoming more obvious, if that is possible. Our so-called business dynamo president yesterday confirmed that North Korea had conducted a nuclear test, this time without his usual playground taunts toward Kim Jong-un. He tweeted criticism at China and South Korea for not doing more to reel in the unhinged dictatorship. However, he was mostly miffed at South Korea because he’s not getting his way with current trade negotiations with that nation, which now has a liberal government headed by President Moon Jae-in. Because President Moon is considering military talks with the North, Trump used the word appeasement in his tweet, code for “weakness” in Red Bull parlance. His tweet about China (where many Trump businesses have lucrative deals) was friendlier. Both governments, more so China, provide economic means to North Korea.
Trump and Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin (without the help of his Instagramming fashion-whore-actress-mean-girl wife) have both proposed cutting economic ties with any nation conducting business with North Korea. This is where we can see Trump is a bloviating dumbbell and not a strategic genius who’s going to fix things, since China is one of those many countries in cahoots with Pyongyang, and if such a plan was “carried out, would have cataclysmic consequences for the global economy.”
This a good time for a reminder that Trump was handed his millionaire status by his KKK-member father, and maintained his lavish Circus Circus Resort lifestyle by taking advantage of every loophole and bankruptcy his sleazy lawyers could dig up. Mnuchin enjoyed enormous monetary gain as CEO, chairman and shareholder of OneWest Bank, a financial institution notorious for employing aggressive foreclosure practices on homeowners.
Experts grounded in reality and authority have said Trump’s tweet grudge aimed at President Moon was “misguided.”
“Moon has actually been very supportive of the U.S. approach of maximum pressure and engagement,” Robert Einhorn said. Einhorn is a former senior State Department employee who worked in the realm of nonproliferation. “Nothing he’s done so far smacks of appeasement.”
Trump’s South Korea complaints don’t make sense to Ely Ratner, an Obama administration national security official. According to Ratner, South Korea allowed the U.S. to install a missile defense system there (to deter the North), which has caused South Korea economic strife with China.
“In a circumstance where we’re going to need close cooperation with not only South Korea but China as well, he’s coming out swinging at all of them rather than trying to build support and coordination,” Mr. Ratner said, pointing out the embarrassing incompetence. “It just looks so haphazard.”
Ratner thinks this latest nuclear test development will prod China into disciplining North Korea. Einhorn disagrees.
That trade agreement and its negotiations with North Korea that is sticking in Trump’s craw? Ironically on Saturday before the nuclear test, White House officials were considering withdrawing from the agreement “over what they believe is Seoul’s pursuit of unfair protectionist policies that have led to huge United States trade deficits.”
Senator Jeff Flake (R AZ), who is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Representative Joaquin Castro (D TX), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, have both strongly warned of dire results if the U.S. pulled out of the free trade agreement. Castro said on ABC’s This Week that “this is not the time to get into a big trade fight with South Korea,” since their energized efforts to talk with the North is South Korea’s attempt at “defusing the escalating tensions” in the region.
It is safe to say that Trump—who was witnessed slapping Don Jr. in the face in the dormitory halls when the son attended Wharton because he didn’t answer the door dressed in a suit—is a lifelong hard-ass. Besides Seoul, Trump is reportedly pressuring his staff to take “bold action against a host of governments” that he accuses “of unfair trade practices.” His economic advisors are divided on his trade policy overall. Withdrawal from the South Korean Free Trade Agreement is uncertain, as lobbyists privy to White House actions say there has been no “consultation with affected industries,” which is what strategists in the know would do “before taking such a step.”
Economists and even GOP members like Senator Ben Sasse are concerned about a dismantle of this agreement.
Sasse, a Nebraska Republican and vocal critic of Trump, has called out the White House on its antiquated trade ideas.
“His administration holds 18th-century views of trade as a zero-sum game. I side with our farmers and ranchers who are feeding the world now.”
Michael J. Green, an Asia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says killing the agreement would destabilize the region and fuck up diplomacy that previous administrations have painstakingly crafted. It is of significant concern that the White House consideration to pull out coincides with the North Korean problem.
“It’s probably all theater, but it has negative strategic consequences as we try to manage the North Korean threat,” he said.
Theater, good ratings, chocolate cake, MAGA.