- Getty Images/Pool photo
- President Donald Trump has put his personal legacy on the line by meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
- If history is any indication, any perceived slight from Pyongyang could cause a potentially violent meltdown.
- Trump harshly responds to perceived betrayals, as he recently did with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
- If North Korea doesn’t keep its nuclear promises, it could evoke a very harsh reaction from Trump who has repeatedly vouched for Kim.
President Donald Trump has put his personal legacy on the line in meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – and if history is any indication, any perceived slight from Pyongyang could cause a potentially violent meltdown.
Trump’s move to meet with Kim has been hailed by world leaders as a great step towards peace, and Trump’s own stated goal in taking the meeting was to disarm North Korea.
Trump’s White House maintains that the moves to denuclearize will come in time, and early reports indicate Kim making good on his limited denuclearization promise to Trump. But North Korea has dropped out of these talks time and time again.
Typically, Trump’s reaction to betrayal is harsh.
“This is the Trump playbook for dealing with foreign leaders,” a source close to Trump told news website Axios’ Jonathan Swan.
“Trump does to other foreign leaders what he wishes they would do for him. On the positive side, it’s lavishing him with praise, rolling out the red carpet.”
Not only did Trump meet Kim, he embraced him. Trump quickly took North Korea’s side on bilateral military issues involving South Korea. Trump repeatedly praised Kim as “smart” and “talented” while whitewashing the most brutal regime on earth, making several apologies for North Korea’s despicable human rights record.
Potentially, Trump lavishing praise on Kim could lead to a reciprocation and improved relations. But there’s a dangerous alternative.
“On the flip side, Trump only respects force, only respects balls. And so if he’s going to go at somebody, he’s going to go at them in the way that he would respect somebody else going at him. No holds barred,” the source said.
A good recent example of Trump’s hot and cold temper came the day before the Kim summit. Trump had praised Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and played up their friendship, but upon leaving the G7 summit, he torched him.
But with North Korea, Trump has extended himself even further than ever before.
Trump said point-blank that he took the meeting and embraced Kim because he personally thought Kim was being straight with him. Instead of any verification mechanisms, Trump repeatedly pointed to his personal interactions with Kim.
So if North Korea doesn’t come through with its denuclearization pledges, if it makes extreme counter-demands of the US, if it is caught in a lie while claiming to denuclearize, Trump vouching for Kim will come under especially heavy scrutiny.
Under pressure and publicly defied by Kim, Trump could return to the “fire and fury” that saw the world on the brink of nuclear war throughout 2017.