There is no known cure for being politically tone-deaf.
No hearing aid; no medical operation; no pills; no nothing.
We will show that
(1) Trump is politically tone-deaf when it comes to handling the North Koreans.
(2) Why? If his incompetence is limited to North Korea, that is one thing. But if that ineptness is a manifestation of a deeper syndrome, it is another.
(1) Let´s show why when it comes to Kim Jong-un, President Trump just doesn´t get it.
To recapitulate current events:
August 7. North Korea vowed to unleash a “thousands-fold” revenge on the United States in response to the UN´ssweeping sanctions against North Korea.
Pyongyang also promised to continue its military build-up, despite the harsh package of restrictions on the its economy enacted by the UN.
Trump said he was “very happy and impressed” by the unanimous approval at the UN of the sanctions.
August 9. “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump told reporters in remarks aired on television and broadcast around the globe. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
August 9. North Korea said it was drawing up plans to launch four missiles into waters near Guam in mid-August to teach Trump a lesson after the president´s “fire and fury” warning which North Korea labelled “nonsense.”
August 14. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced that if North Korea fired missiles near Guam, “It´s game on.”
August 14. Kim Jong-un temporarily backed off his missile launch near Guam, saying he would continue to watch the “foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” before deciding whether to give an order for the launch.
August 15. “It´s your move,” Kim told Trump.
August 16. Trump tweeted: "Kim Jong Un of North Korea made a very wise and well reasoned decision. The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!"
Let us entertain an unthinkable thought:
Could Kim Jong-un be correct in characterizing America´s conduct as “foolish and stupid”? If you find my question utterly unacceptable, look at it this way: is there something in American conduct/statements that would lead Kim to believe that U.S. was foolish and stupid?
Every single one of the Trump-Kim interactions noted above show Trump is lost on North Korea.
The reason: there never should have been any interactions in the first place – not one.
* * *
Everybody agrees on three things:
(i) A nuclear-armed North Korea is not acceptable. Even China says so, at least on a formal level. So, what is to be done?
(ii) China is THE major player in this crisis.
They are right.
As our previous post noted, without Chinese intervention in the Korean War, there would be no North Korea today.
(iii) Finally, everybody agrees China will as usual do little or nothing in the current crisis. It will pay lip service to the latest UN sanctions which are in reality to its benefit. The sanctions will increase the value of Chinese contraband exports to North Korea.
Our prior post discussed the key to solving the crisis: how do you make the Chinese government be responsible for North Korea?
Note the use of the word make. We will expand on it shortly.
The answer was given in our prior post:
The same way JFK made Russia be responsible for missiles in Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.
In his address to the nation of October 22, JFK announced:
"It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union...
The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths are; but it is the one most consistent with our character and courage as a nation and our commitments around the world."
The equivalent doctrine today would have solved the present U.S.-North Korea crisis without war ... because there never would have been a crisis:
It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from North Korea against any ally of the United States as an attack by China on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon China.
Say what you will, JFK´s doctrine worked. There was no war, nuclear or otherwise. You are alive.
Our prior post noted that for those readers who believe The Belvedere Doctrine is too severe, don´t worry. It cannot and will not be implemented.
To do so would junk Henry Kissinger´s totally mistaken policy of forming an alliance with China at all costs. As our "Debunked" post (see below) made clear from a secret State Department memo, Kissinger´s motive was to punish Vietnam who he viscerally hated because that nation defeated him, humiliated him.
(Our alternative: America should have united with India and Southeast Asia nations – yes, Vietnam included – against China.
For why Kissinger´s pro-China architecture of international relations, which Washington steadfastly preserves to this day, is nonsensical and unconscionable, please see our post "´Henery´ Kissinger Debunked" (August 11, 2015).
We come to why Trump´s Korea policy is incompetent:
To repeat, you must make the puppet-master be responsible for his puppet. During the Cuban missile crisis, JFK dealt only with Russia, never with the Castro Government. That position is diametrically opposed to Trump´s handling of North Korea:
(i) "If it would be appropriate for me to meet with [Kim Jong-un], I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it," Trump told Bloomberg News.
(ii) “He was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father, when his father died. He’s dealing with obviously very tough people,” Trump told CBS’ John Dickerson in an interview that aired on Sunday’s episode of Face the Nation.
“A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else,” Trump continued. “And he was able to do it, so obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie.”
Trump´s clumsy and naive gratuitous commentary displayed a stunning ignorance of how the Kim dynasty operates, perpetuates itself. Why should it come as a surprise that Kim thinks Americans are foolish and stupid?
(iii) We come to the crown jewel in Trump´s crown of errors.
I repeat Trump´s most recent comment cited above regarding Kim´s postponement of shooting missiles near Guam: "Kim Jong Un of North Korea made a very wise and well reasoned decision."
I also repeat that JFK studiously avoided any direct links with the Castro Government throughout the 1962 crisis; it was if that government did not exist.
Instead of citing Kim´s “wise” decision, then, the correct approach for Trump would have been to acknowledge the constructive role played by China´s President Xi Jinping in annulling the missile launch. When all is said and done, he was the man who said "No" and caused the annulment.
China acted responsibly – finally. Necessity should not be converted into a virtue, however; the growing threat of nuclear war made the difference.
That makes our JFK-inspired doctrine enunciated above – which, again, cannot be implemented given existing U.S. policy -- all the more reasonable and realistic. Plainly speaking, it would have yanked China´s chain. You would have seen real responsibility and concrete remedial action a long time ago from Peking – fast.
I will conclude this point by noting that if thousands of people die in an America-North Korea war, it will only be the start of the world catastrophe created by Kissinger´s pro-China-at-any-price policy. I will put aside for the moment the thousands of American factories closed and jobs lost -- the countless American lives ruined -- on account of one man´s petty vindictiveness.
Here is something that neither Kissinger nor Trump understands. Ultimately, he who controls the definition of the situation controls the situation.
Kim is keenly aware of that reality. To cover up the fact he backed down on the missile launch near Guam, he says he is waiting to see what the “foolish Yankees” do next.
Kim´s qualifier of holding off the launch “for now” is of course meaningless. It is the equivalent of being a little bit pregnant, a sometimes friendly tiger, a mediocre helicopter pilot.
The United States needs to counter Kim´s definition of the situation by implementing its own definition. As mentioned above, instead of reinforcing Kim´s definition by congratulating Kim, the U.S. should have congratulated China.
Similarly, when Kim tells the U.S. “It´s your move,” the U.S. should de facto rebuke him by making the next move up to China.
Kim´s most significant definition is not there, however …
The latest installment is in today´s (August 17) BBC report:
“A military response to North Korea would be ´horrific´ but remains an option, the top military adviser to US President Donald Trump says.
Gen Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the comments while visiting China.
He was responding to remarks by a top Trump aide ruling out military action over North Korea's nuclear programme.
Tensions have flared between the US and North Korea after Pyongyang made advances in its missile testing.
Mr Trump has warned the North that it faces ´fire and fury´, while Pyongyang has threatened to strike the American territory of Guam.
But the sharp rhetoric of last week has since softened, with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un putting the Guam plans on hold - a move praised by President Trump ...
Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon said on Wednesday there could be no military solution to the stand-off.
´Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don't die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don't know what you're talking about, there's no military solution here, they got us,´ he told The American Prospect.”
They got us? Ah, noooo.
North Korea has been holding Seoul as well as the U.S. hostage with its missiles and conventional artillery in caves near the border. When you come down to it, that is the sole leverage Kim has. Artillery is how North Korea has been defining the situation for decades.
Bannon wanted a solution to the “equation." Here it is.
Please note the range of Kim´s artillery on the map attached to this post. Obviously, if Seoul and the northern area of South Korea were evacuated – or safely placed in underground bunkers -- North Korea would lose its leverage. It would cease to define the situation, hence control it.
Insightful discussions of shelters for/evacuations of South Koreans are numerous. We take no sides on their feasibility/infeasibility. Our point is that the mere discussion, analysis and vigorous implementation as never before of evacuation and disaster management would strip North Korea of its ace.
Together, making China responsible for North Korea – all of it -- and initiating a full-court press to protect the South Korean population would create a continental shift in American-Korean relations, hence, in international relations in general.
(2) Why Trump´s ineptness is not limited to the North Korean crisis.
No matter how reasonable and realistic the two polices just mentioned may be, neither will be realized because of one man: Donald Trump.
At this moment, not North Korea but Trump´s daily stumbling and fumbling of Charlottesville and white supremacists and racism and Confederate statues are a classic display of what we observed in earlier posts regarding Trump´s personality.
We cited two key conclusions of C.G. Jung:
(i) “A man who is possessed by his shadow* is always standing in his own light and falling into his own traps. Whenever possible, he prefers to make an unfavourable impression on others. In the long run luck is always against him, because he is living below his own level and at best only attains what does not suit him. And if there is no doorstep for him to stumble over, he manufactures one for himself and then fondly believes he has done something useful." C. G. Jung, "The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious," in Collected Works, ¶ 222, p. 3,631.
(ii) “An inflated consciousness is always egocentric and conscious of nothing but its own presence. It is incapable of learning from the past, incapable of understanding contemporary events, and incapable of drawing right conclusions about the future. It is hypnotized by itself and therefore cannot be argued with. It inevitably dooms itself to calamities that must strike it dead.” C.G. Jung, "Religious Ideas in Alchemy," in Collected Works, Volume 12 ¶ 563, pp. 6005-6.
Hopefully, we have gone part of the way to explain why Trump is clueless, and not just regarding North Korea. Foolish. Stupid. Why he cannot be corrected; why he cannot understand what is going on around him; why he keeps making the same mistakes. Why he just doesn´t get it.
In brief: why he keeps falling into his own traps.
Why we can expect more calamities, maybe nuclear.
Your move, dear reader.
Update: August 23, 2017. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson noted in a press briefing yesterday:
"I'm pleased to see that the regime in Pyongyang has certainly demonstrated some level of restraint that we've not seen in the past...Perhaps we are seeing our pathway to sometime in the early future having some dialogue."
The Belvedere Doctrine opposes Tillerson´s approach. America should thank China for "new restraint" demonstrated in the Korean peninsula crisis. Dialogue with North Korea -- for the moment -- should not be put in play.
Our policy builds on Chinese President Xi´s telephone call to Trump urging him to "exercise restraint" regarding North Korea. In so doing, we place responsibility where it needs to be placed.
Even more inappropriate was Trump´s comment yesterday that Kim Jong-un "is starting to respect us." North Korea promptly responded by referring to Trump as that "mad guy" who regularly posts "weird articles of his ego-driven thoughts in his twitter."
The issue is if China, not Kim, is starting to respect us.
A summary of C.G.Jung: "´The shadow personifies everything that the subject refuses to acknowledge about himself´ and represents ´a tight passage, a narrow door, whose painful constriction no one is spared who goes down to the deep well´. If and when 'an individual makes an attempt to see his shadow, he becomes aware of (and often ashamed of) those qualities and impulses he denies in himself but can plainly see in others — such things as egotism, mental laziness, and sloppiness; unreal fantasies, schemes, and plots; carelessness and cowardice; inordinate love of money and possessions — ...[a] painful and lengthy work of self-education´".