Criticism of The Trump-Kim Summit Showcases The Hypocrisy Of All World Powers And Leaders Willing To Work With Wrongdoers
The second Trump-Kim summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un collapsed in what Trump allies have framed as a willingness to walk away from a bad deal. For critics of the top-level negotiations, however, the outcome of the meeting was always a secondary concern. The fact that the US President was willing to work with one of the most tyrannical and unsavory governments in the world was an unbearable proposition from the start. The fact that Donald Trump considers Kim Jong-Un a ‘friend’ and anything less than an indecent human being reflects badly on the President as a person and as a leader for those who are willing to recognize the sins of the Kim regime. Although Kim Jong-Un may not be personally involved in or fully aware of his government’s most notorious activities, he is the head of the Kim regime and the kind of governing environment he cultivates allows the abuses and wrongs of his government to continue. With that in mind, that same disgust for Trump and Kim’s comradery needs to be used to shine a spotlight on the willingness of the US and world leaders to cooperate with unsavory figures around the world.
In the name of peace, it is often necessary to cooperate with leaders who are outright monsters. The need to establish some semblance of a dialog with Germany during the Second World War forced Allied powers to negotiate with the Nazis. Diplomats had to engage the likes of Slobodan Milošević and his cronies, despite their genocidal ambitions, to blunt the bloodshed. Ultimately, of course, those who committed atrocities in these wars were held accountable. Furthermore, the need to gather support for a war effort makes it helpful to demonize one’s enemy from the leadership to the Peoples of an enemy state. When it comes time for peace, the vilification of a People must be undone. If the same leadership is to remain in place, the reputation of that leadership must be whitewashed. For modern governments, war is no longer fought against the Peoples of the world. Conflicts are fought against the governments of the world. It is, therefore, essential to reform the images of governments like that of the Kim regime when attempting to reestablish diplomatic relations, forge peace, and cultivate cooperation. Unfortunately, image is not the problem with governments like those of North Korea. The problem is the monstrous decisions and actions of those empowered by tyrannical regimes. To have peace, such individuals cannot be embraced as friends. They must be prosecuted as criminals.
What seasoned political figures find most appalling about Trump’s cordial engagement of Kim Jong-Un is his blatant willingness to embrace the head of a regime responsible for the mass oppression and murder of its own People. It is, of course, hypocritical criticism. Trump is essentially still a newcomer to the realm of foreign policy. While many consider his willingness to engage Kim Jong-Un a sign of his naivety, it is also a critique of the blatant hypocrisy that runs rampant within the diplomatic and geopolitical establishment. When a world power, such as the US or Russia, views a foreign government in a negative light, that government and its leadership can do no right. When they view a foreign government as an ally, that government and the leaders of that government can do no wrong. That hypocrisy is most apparent when there is a need to work with the unsavory leadership of a tyrannical regime and political leaders must walk back their vilification of enemy leadership. Quite frankly, this hypocrisy is a convenience and helps world leaders maintain global stability, but it allows great wrongs to be committed, inhibits proper governance, and prevents the resolution of crimes against humanity. World powers need to overcome their addiction to hypocrisy and double standards in order to hold wrongdoers in power accountable.
In the Middle East, for example, the US continues to overlook the wrongs of individuals in the governments of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and other allies. For its part, America’s primary geopolitical revival operating in the region, i.e. Russia, overlooks the wrongs of Iranian and Syrian leadership. In Afghanistan, the United States and its allies support talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Although the Taliban are classified as insurgents instead of terrorists, they are no different in terms of behavior. Before the US pushed the Taliban out of power in 2001, they were the tyrannical government of Afghanistan. The wrongs of their leadership and ranks against the Afghan People, especially women, have only grown since their ouster. Members of the Taliban belong in jail, not civil society, yet negotiations with the Taliban are increasingly considered necessary and acceptable. Like Trump’s willingness to outright befriend the leadership of North Korea, talks with the Taliban are unsettling, because those who support them are openly ignoring the sins of the Taliban and legitimizing their wrongdoing. What the situations reveal is the true thought-processes within the geopolitical establishment. When it is socially and politically acceptable to ignore the wrongs of criminals, world leaders are willing to absolve their sins, because it makes it easier to disengage from conflicts.
When leaders use their power over others and empower others to harm entire populations of people, it is just as unacceptable and intolerable as the action of criminals. The difference between a murderer and a terrorist is the ideological motivation of the terrorist. The difference between a tyrannical leader and a terrorist is that the tyrannical leader has a war machine capable of suppressing the entire population of a territory. In essence, the difference is nonexistent. Just as the Peoples and just leaders of the world would seek to hold any terrorist and any other criminal accountable for his wrongs, the same standard must be applied to a tyrannical leader. A tyrannical leader, whether friend or foe, must face justice for his wrongdoings and the wrongdoings his negligence facilitates. It is the standard all citizens of just countries face, thus it is the same standard all leaders of just countries need to embrace when it comes to addressing conflicts around the world. It is easy to criticize Donald Trump because his engagement of North Korea is taboo, but that same criticism needs to be applied to all diplomatic undertakings. Individuals who use power to do wrong and empower those who do wrong for them need to be held accountable, even if it makes it more difficult to defuse a security threat.
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