In a harsh column in the New York Times, conservative columnist Bret Stephens hammered President Donald Trump for his ham-handed negotiations with North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un who is currently buddying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Stephens started out with a brutal smackdown of Trump’s storied incompetence as a negotiator — despite Trump’s claims to the contrary.
“As deal-making goes, Donald Trump’s approach to negotiating with North Korea has resembled nothing so much as his purchase, in 1988, of New York’s Plaza Hotel: Rely on personal chemistry, ignore the advice of experts, neglect due diligence and then overpay for an investment that delivers no returns,” he began before adding, “As with the Plaza, the result is about the same: a fiasco.”
According to the columnist, Trump’s bungling of negotiating has opened the door for Putin to act as a middleman where he can serve his own best interests first.
“It’s too soon to say whether Putin’s gambits will succeed. But it’s a measure of the scale of the administration’s failure that the Russian is in a strong position to try,” Stephens wrote. “At his February summit with Kim in Hanoi, Trump failed to get the deal that he unwisely hankered for, which was all-too predictable given the history and ambitions of the North Korean regime.”
“Trump then followed up that failure by continuing to coddle and flatter Kim. In March, he suspended large-scale military exercises with the South. Then he publicly canceled a package of tough North Korea-linked sanctions proposed by his own administration,” the columnist continued before getting to the point about Trump’s dangerous gambit.
“The result is a visible series of gaps, all of them exploitable by America’s adversaries: the gap between the president and his advisers; between Washington and Seoul; between the existing sanctions regime and the will to enforce them,” he wrote, adding, “Also, the gap between Trump’s fantasies and the facts.”
Noting, “Meanwhile, the dictator that Trump can’t stop praising is the same man who had his half-brother murdered in plain sight and demanded a $2 million payment for the “medical care” of the late Otto Warmbier, the young American who was released from North Korea in a vegetative state. The right word for such behavior is evil,” Stephens warned that Trump is playing a dangerous game.
“There may be no good answer to the challenge of North Korea, but there are plenty of bad ones. Trump seems eager to grasp them all. And unlike the bomb that was the Plaza deal, these ones could detonate,” he cautioned.
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