On today's BradCast: After turning on our closest allies at the G7 summit over the weekend, Donald Trump made history on Tuesday by shaking hands, meeting with, and praising brutal North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un at a much-anticipated, on-again off-again, made for Reality TV summit in Singapore. [Audio link to show follows below.]
The two signed and released a thin, one-page joint statement at the meeting's end, calling for the vaguely referenced "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", with the U.S. offering security guarantees to the isolated nation for what appears to be precious little in return. Trump also announced, to the apparent surprise and dismay of both our allies in South Korea and even the U.S. military, that he intends to end joint military exercises with the South, which he described (just as the North does), as "provocative".
Trump later went on to dismiss the long-documented history of murderous and brutal human rights violations in NK, which our guest today, former Deputy Asst. Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs MICHAEL FUCHS, describes as "the most brutal dictatorship on the face of the planet." Trump's response today, when asked about the country's horrifying human rights abuses: "It doesn't matter. We're starting from scratch. We're starting right now."
Indeed, as Fuchs notes, the joint document signed by the pair does not speak to Kim's atrocities in any way, nor does it reference his ballistic missile program. Trump has repeatedly cited the failure to deal with Iran's missile program as central to his reason for pulling out and violating the comprehensive, seven-nation pact struck during the Obama Administration with Iran, which ended that country's ability to even build nuclear weapons.
Fuchs, now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, offers key insight and analysis as a former diplomat who worked closely on these issues with the previous administration, including the history of similar (if much more comprehensive) agreements during several previous administrations, all of which were ultimately violated by Kim's father, the previous leader. "This is a repeat of what we've seen before," he tells me. "We have had numerous agreements, numerous joint statements, dating back more than 25 years. This statement resembles, to be fair, the least-detailed statements that North Korea and the United States have ever put out."
He argues that the current turn to diplomacy, while welcome, is only due to a "false choice between war, which [Trump] was advocating for, or diplomacy. We should be engaged in diplomacy with North Korea, but we should be engaged in it at the right level, with the experts negotiating things, to see if we can get North Korea to commit to verifiable steps to reduce the threat to the United States. Instead of, frankly and unfortunately, the sort of 'pomp and circumstance' show that we got."
Noting that the agreement doesn't even define what is meant by "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," for which NK has a wildly different definition than that of the U.S., Fuchs explains: "This is the crux of the entire matter. What do both sides mean by 'denuclearization' and what is North Korea willing to do? And it's clear to me that the vague language in this statement is the result of not getting agreement from the two parties on what they mean."
"We didn't get any specifics, any agreements for [North Korea] to do anything when it comes to stopping or halting their nuclear or missile programs right now. They didn't even reiterate in the agreement that North Korea would continue what has been a months-long freeze on its testing of nuclear weapons and missiles," Fuchs charges, describing what he characterized at the Guardian today as "the latest episode in the TV series starring the US president, Donald Trump, North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and a stockpile of nuclear weapons" in "one of the world’s most intractable and dangerous conflicts."
(And, yes, the summit even included a schlocky fake movie trailer that Trump played for Kim on an iPad at the beginning of their conversation.)
Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with details on how climate change was at the center of Trump's turn against the United State's closes allies at this past weekend's G7 summit in Canada, and much more...
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