The event that occurred today at the so-called “demilitarized zone” that separates South and North Korea won’t matter substantively.
The symbolism — and its complete context — constitutes something potentially remarkable.
Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in the world’s most reclusive nation. He walked across the DMZ into North Korea to shake hands with one of his BFFs, North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un.
On the one hand, the president’s brief foray into no man’s land deserves praise. The very idea of an incumbent president stepping onto the soil of a nation with which we still are technically at war is astonishing on its face.
What’s more, consider this: The president is a Republican, a member of a party that historically has been openly harsh and intolerant of policies espoused by diehard communists; indeed, Kim Jong Un is a Marxist to the core.
I am shaking my head.
The complete context of this weird relationship, though, inhibits full-throated praise of Trump’s tip-toeing into North Korea. Kim Jong Un is among the most despicable of world leaders. His people are starving, yet he continues to promote massive military buildups. He threatens South Korea, Japan and the United States.
How in the world can the president continue to heap praise on this individual? How in the name of diplomatic norms can this individual keep referring to the “beautiful letters” he get from Kim Jong Un?
Trump’s foray into North Korea made great optics. He didn’t get anything from it. The United States is not safer today from the blustering and bloviating that comes from Pyongyang.
Still, it was an astounding event.