When the Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter Administrations forged Detente with the Soviet Union, it was met with ridicule by conservative circles (led in part by former California Governor Ronald Reagan who opposed the S.A.L.T. arms reduction treaties) who thought we were being played for suckers. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Carter and to a lesser extent Reagan took hardline attitudes towards the Soviets. The thawing and the resumption of Detente (with the S.T.A.R.T. Treaties) occurred when Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton dealt with more open and “democratic” Soviet Leaders like Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin. Even with their hero Reagan in the White House, conservatives cried foul.
Every President since the formation of Israel has tried to forge a peace between that country and its Middle East Neighbors. Jimmy Carter helped achieve it with a separate peace between Israel and Egypt. Bill Clinton helped achieve it between Israel and Jordan. Peace with the Palestinians, for various reasons, has been off, then on, and then off again and despite hints through the decades, peace treaties with the other Middle East nations like Syria and Saudi Arabia has remained elusive. There have been naysayers in the United States and the region on these attempts as well.
Barack Obama, after years of negotiations, opened doors to Cuba and concluded a Nuclear agreement (with six other nations) with Iran and met condemnation by reactionary elements in this country with the current occupant of the White House calling it the “Worst Deal ever.”
The point of the above history lesson is that all these attempts at making the world a better and more peaceful globe for our people takes time, hard work, a steady hand or hands shepherding the process, and in most cases many years and many administrations. It should also be noted that all these attempts were met with resistance and chastisement by one or more groups who thought the peace efforts were foolhardy.
President Trump’s efforts in the last week with our G7 allies in Quebec and with Kim Jong Un in Singapore represent a potentially historic turning point in our countries foreign policy conduct for both the right and wrong reasons.
Is the President’s meeting with Kim Jong Un historic and an opportunity to end a conflict in a region that has not known an official peace since well before World War Two? Yes, it is and as Americans, we should let the process proceed and see how it unfolds despite its unpromising beginnings this week. The cause of peace should never be thrown away.
Is the President conducting himself in a fashion that resembles the posture of his predecessors? No, it is not. His abrasive behavior with our longest and most reliable and trusted democratic allies coupled with an embrace and respect for our authoritarian adversaries and their methods demonstrates a chilling and terrifying shift in how a President should conduct international relations. Readers need to consider the following questions.
Would any of the Presidents predecessors (Republican or Democrat) have arrived late to the G7 summit but arrive on time to meet Dictator and Mass Murderer Kim Jong Un?
Would any of the Presidents predecessors (Republican or Democrat) have openly commented that the leader of one of the most repressive, secretive, and unreliable countries on the planet is “talented, trustworthy, and loved by his people.” Please check out the YouTube video link below comparing Fox News commentator reactions to similar postures from both Presidents Obama and Trump to see what would have happened if anyone but Trump had done this.
Would any of the Presidents predecessors (Republican or Democrat) have threatened the Canadian Prime Minister with payback for a comment at a press conference following the G7 conference yet say it was an honor to meet the aforementioned Mass Murderer (including his uncle and half-brother) Kim Jong Un?
Would any of the Presidents predecessors (Republican or Democrat) have agreed to make the first concession in ending joint participation in military exercises with the South Koreans? Republicans would have frayed Barrack Obama alive if he had stopped funding Israel’s Iron Dome Defense as a concession to the Iranians?
Would a great majority of the supporters of the Presidents predecessors (Republican or Democrat) have given them the level of blind obedience and tacit approval Mr. Trump receives by not being, in masse, openly critical, of what he says about our allies and foes and how he conducts himself with them?
If you answered no to all of the above questions, you can see that we are at a critical juncture.
President Trump has turned American Foreign Policy upside down. He is good at tearing up multilateral agreements, insulting our allies, and playing nice with our adversaries but has yet to demonstrate his expertise at the “art of the deal”. While this overture with North Korea may yield positive results (remember we dealt with Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev in Russia and Mao, Chou En Lai and Deng Xiao Ping in China and they, individually, had more blood on their hands), this is not the deal of the century yet. It has not even remotely approached the level of the Iran Nuclear Deal Mr. Trump broke by leaving. To declare North Korea not a nuclear threat one day after the summit is extremely foolhardy. No President in the Nuclear Age would have made so premature an assessment.
In order to move forward, this country needs to retain positive relations with all our allies and not ridicule and mock them, especially in favor of other powers that are not deserving. It also needs two political parties willing to stand up to the President when he is wrong. The hypocrisy and blind loyalty of most members of the Party of Lincoln towards Mr. Trump can lead this country to isolation and ruin. Instead of being the nation others look to and want to emulate, we will become the new pariah to be shunned in favor of nations like China who are more than eager to take our place.
The People have it in their power to implore their leaders in both parties to move the country forward in a positive direction. They need to act on that through the democratic process and do it sooner rather than later