Burke: No confidence in Trump’s competence on North Korea

If it weren’t for the impeachment hearings, we’d be paying more attention to his failures there.

By Tom Burke / Herald columnist

Trump’s impeachment dominates the news. It should.

But there’s other stuff that in “normal” times would be headlines. Stuff threatening death to millions here and in Japan and South Korea.

And because Trump is unfit as president on so many levels, let’s look at other stuff through use of the “C” word (instead of the “I” word).

Now the “C” word clearly isn’t Class. (Just think about his disgusting spew at Rep. Debbie Dingell and her recently-deceased husband).

Nor is it Care, Comity, Credibility or Candor, all traits lacking in whatever jumble of paranoia, megalomania and narcissism makes up Trump’s personality. It sure ain’t Congress, which he doesn’t acknowledge as part of the American democratic system.

Nope, the “C” word, a word never found in the same sentence as “Donald Trump,” is: Competence. (Defined as “the ability to do something well.”)

So let’s examine how Trump has dealt with a deadly adversary — North Korea — and rate his competence.

To begin, let’s agree North Korea is a brutal communist dictatorship; run by a lineage of mass murderers; an implacable foe of the United States since 1948; against whom we fought a war when it invaded South Korea; and which China and Russia (our two biggest enemies) have propped up since the 1940s, despite U.S. sanctions.

In 1994 North Korea pledged to halt development of nuclear weapons. They lied.

In 2002 George Bush called them part of the “axis of evil” as they continued to develop nukes, detonating their first in 2006.

And in 2017, President Trump made an unambiguous pledge, following North Korea’s launch of a missile that could reach parts of the U.S., saying “We’ll handle North Korea. We’re going to be able to handle them. It will be handled.”

He began by calling the North’s Dear Leader, Kim Jong-un, “Little Rocket Man” and promised to rain “fire and fury” down on him, getting a lot of people in South Korea, Japan and the U.S. very afraid with his belligerent war talk.

Then, as if struck by Cupid’s arrow, he “fell in love” with the brutal despot and began exchanging love letters; ignoring Kim’s murder of Otto Warmbier.

So they met in Singapore in September 2018 for a summit.

The results: Nothing. Kim made vague promises while Trump triumphantly tweeted, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” He lied. (Well, actually, they both lied.)

So another summit was scheduled. But it flopped when Kim said “No” to negotiating. (As there was no advance work by Trump, what did anyone expect?)

Later Trump meets Kim at the North/South border and steps over the line with Ivanka (into North Korea) for a great photo op for Kim and Ivanka, but no actual progress. All the while, Trump’s bragging how he’ll get Kim to de-nuclearize, and, again, how the world was now safe.

Except after all that kowtowing to Kim, all the love letters, all the BS about the Dear Leader, it all went “POOF!”

Because North Korea resumed missile testing in 2019 and recently claimed to have conducted a “very important test” at a rocket launch site. It set Dec. 31 as a hard deadline for negotiations, promising a Christmas “surprise” for the U.S. if we don’t accede to their demands.

So Trump is back threatening, tweeting, “Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way.” Adding, “He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States.”

To which Kim responded by having his people call President Trump a “heedless and erratic old man.” Oh dear (Leader?).

So, let’s check the ‘ol Competence Meter and see how Trump has scored:

Consistent policy, Trump 0; Kim 1

Listens to experts, Trump 0; Kim 100

Does prep work before meetings, Trump 0; Kim 100

Gives other side propaganda victories, Trump 100; Kim 0

Provided solace to the family of Otto Warmbier, Trump 0; Kim 0

Threatens millions with death, Trump, 100; Kim 100

Says nice things about the other, Trump, 50; Kim 0

Believes the words of a proven liar, Trump 100; Kim 0

Gets results for his country, Trump 0; Kim 100

Score: Trump Incompetent; Kim Competent (for a murederous despot)

In three years Trump’s ham-handed “handling” has: allowed North Korea’s continued development of nukes and missiles; scared the crap out of people in Japan and South Korea; looked like a fool saying he was in love with Kim Jong-un; and gave both China and Russia cheap victories in their war against the U.S.

Plus he’s destroying our alliance with South Korea.

So no “what about-ism;” we’re judging Trump not Truman or Ike. And we could check the Competence Meter for Syria, NATO, Mexico paying for the wall, and trying to secretly bribe Ukraine and then hide the crime.

Trump’s obit will start with “He was impeached.” It’ll end with “He was incompetent.”

Tom Burke’s email address is t.burke.column@gmail.com.

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