Trump's New Foreign Policy: The Cooptation Doctrine
Reactions to the Trump-Kim summit are a Rorschach test of politics and personality.
The politics part is obvious. Some people's dislike for Trump is so strong they would find something to criticize if he cured cancer.
The personality part is only slightly more complex. Some people see the glass as half full, others half empty. Trump is a half full type if there ever was one and his generally optimistic approach to life is what many can't abide, especially because it has made him a success.
Among those who tilt to the pessimistic side are those known as "experts." You see them all over now, mouthing the conventional wisdom that Trump hasn't really done anything with Kim, that there are no guarantees, no details, etc. Never mind the all-too-apparent subtext that if Trump does succeed, they look like fakes and could be out of a job.
Part of the problem for these people is that Trump is evolving an entirely new approach to foreign policy that is about as far out of their purview as you could get, something only a real estate magnate could actually pull off.
Call it The Cooptation Doctrine. Sanction the hell out of the leader of a despotic Third World country, then go meet him and promise, if he mends his ways, to make his country rich and him even richer.
Thus we have Kim shown an iPad rendering of the Côte de North Korea and Trump explaining on Hannity that North Korea, located between booming South Korea and China, is prime real estate replete with scenic landscapes and pristine beaches ready to be be developed with resorts and hotels, a veritable Park Place and Boardwalk in the making.
Trump realizes instinctually what we all know from history. Ideology be damned -- being a communist dictator is all about making a fortune off the backs of "the people." (Castro died a billionaire). Of course, it helps that you place the despot's regime under those extreme sanctions before you offer him paradise and not let up with those sanctions until he relents and signs. As we all know, Obama took the opposite approach with Iran and ended up funding Middle East war.
But what about the Gulag, all the starving people, many have asked, including ABC's George Stephanopoulos in what turned out to be a surprisingly revealing interview with Trump.
G: You say his people love him. Just a few months ago you accused him of starving his people. And listen, here’s the rub. Kim is a brutal dictator. He runs a police state, forced starvation, labor camps. He’s assassinated members of his own family. How do you trust a killer like that?
T: George, I’m given what I'm given, okay? I mean, this is what we have, and this is where we are, and I can only tell you from my experience, and I met him, I've spoken with him, and I’ve met him. And this was, as you know, started very early and it's been very intense. I think that he really wants to do a great job for North Korea. I think he wants to denuke, it’s very important. Without that, there's nothing to discuss. That was on the table at the beginning, and you see a total denuclearization of North Korea -- so important. And, he wants to do the right thing. Now, with all of that being said, I can’t talk about -- it doesn’t matter. We’re starting from scratch. We’re starting right now, and we have to get rid of those nuclear weapons.
"I'm given what I'm given.... I think he wants to denuke, it's very important. Without that, there's nothing to discuss.... We're starting from scratch...." There you have Trump's approach in a nutshell. Totally pragmatic and totally from the gut.
Is he right? We know the "experts" were wrong. They have achieved nothing for decades. As so many Democrats I know used to say in their youths, but not so much now, "Give peace a chance!"
Roger L. Simon - Co-Founder and CEO Emeritus of PJ Media - is a novelist and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter.