As the details have continued to surface about the deal struck by Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, it’s become clear that Kim made no concessions at all; the deal literally doesn’t require him to give up anything. What may be even more alarming is that no one seems to know what concessions Trump made. In fact he and Mike Pence can’t even get their story straight about what the United States agreed to give up in the deal.
Donald Trump announced to the media that he had agreed to stop holding joint military exercises with South Korea. This was a stunning development, as these exercises have long served as a way of exerting U.S. influence in the region. The exercises have been particularly vital in terms of demonstrating South Korea’s sovereignty and the willingness of the U.S. to actively defend it against potential aggressors, including China.
Trump’s concession on the joint military exercises instantly set off alarms around the world, from South Korea to the Republican Congress. This prompted Mike Pence to try to jump in and smooth things over within his own party. GOP Senator Cory Gardner then announced that Pence had informed him that the military exercises would continue, which meant that Trump and Pence were making opposite claims about what was in the deal. Then Pence’s office released a statement claiming that only “regular readiness training and training exchanges” will continue with South Korea, and not joint military exercises.
The bottom line here is that Donald Trump and Mike Pence can’t get their story straight about what this deal’s terms really are. Trump’s ongoing descent into senility means that he could have agreed to just about anything. It now very much appears that the deal as it’s written, and the deal that Trump made in his conversation with Kim Jong Un, are not the same deal. Even Trump’s own Republican Party can’t figure out what to make of this unmitigated disaster.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report