If you were lucky enough to get your hands on one of the Donald Trump/Supreme Leader commemorative meeting coins, now is the time to hold it close. Because it just became so much more emblematic of the events of this White House—overblown, gold-plated, and utterly doomed.
Donald Trump accepted the invitation to talk to North Korea the moment the idea was presented to him, giving it exactly the same level of thought that goes into most of Trump’s strategy, and considerably less planning than he devoted to arranging how he could be interviewed on Fox and still watch it in his jammies. It was only after he saw the reaction to this acceptance that he began to dream up some post-pre-requirements.
But Trump agreeing to the meeting was all the victory that Kim Jong-un required. That agreement awarded Kim Jong-un an undreamed of level of international legitimacy, and in exchange Trump had extracted a promise to surrender exactly zero of the bombs, missiles, and giant mortars with which Kim threatens Seoul. From the North Korean side, negotiations on any topic of interest ended the moment Trump said “yes.”
While Trump supporters—including an incredible 18 members of the US Congress—immediately proposed that Donald Trump be awarded the Nobel Prize for name-calling, threats and ill-conceived plans, any idea that the Trump-Kim summit was going to yield any significant concession on the part of Kim seemed the longest of long shots. Kim almost seemed to highlight this fact by offering as an “enticement” the promise to destroy a nuclear testing site which had already suffered a partial collapse and contamination leading to the death of hundreds. Kim even let CNN watch while North Korea dynamited tunnels leading to the site … that was already, and irrevocably, unusable.
While Kim was throwing up empty gestures, Donald Trump was making empty threats. Weeks after agreeing to meet, Trump was reminded that he should insist on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. In adding this requirement to any meeting, Trump seemed set on making sure that the meeting never took place—a message reinforced when newly acquired security advisor John Bolton added the proviso that any actions should follow the “Libya model.” Which was exactly the model that Kim’s father set out to avoid when he launched the nuclear development program.
Now the whole deal is off. Marsha Blackburn, Mark Meadows, and the other authors of the letter to the Nobel Committee will have to find some other excuse to demonstrate their loyalty. And as a bonus, the letter with which Trump cancelled the meeting is just as ridiculous as the way he began the whole affair.