Let The Ants Sleep
When the elephants stomp, the ants suffer. The threat of nuclear attack by North Korea has seized the severely limited attention of President Trump. Now Trump and Kim Jong-un have begun a stomping match while Facebook fills with stories of people (the real sympathy puller – children) losing sleep for fear of nuclear annihilation.
Three interesting data points appeared on my radar screen yesterday and I want to connect them in practical solution.
The first two came from a This American Life podcast of July 14. https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/620/transcript
Our intrepid guide Ira Glass introduces us to David Kestenbaum, a science reporter at NPR. Kestenbaum introduces us to Jeffrey Lewis, creator and host of the Arms Control Wonk podcast, the leading podcast on arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament.
The first point Lewis makes that I believe merits inclusion in our thinking, is that for decades – certainly during the terms of every living President we have overplayed our hand and lost every round of negotiating with North Korea and now the hand we have mostly dealt to ourselves has become very very weak.
So that, and this is the second data point I want to connect, at this point despite the fact that it will be violently unpleasant we have no good moves other than acceding to Kim Jong-un’s desires: diplomatic recognition removal of sanctions and invitations to state dinners.
The third data point comes in the form an email which apparently is being circulated by Trumpistas. In essence it bemoans the plight of poor Donald Trump, all his predecessors kicked the can down the road and now he has the burden of protecting us from the evil Kim Jong-un. But thank God, Trump is the leader we have prayed for and by God he will drop the big one North Korea. As disgusting as this missive is to me….Trump certainly isn’t the President I have prayed for and no one by God (that is with God, for God) drops the big one…there is a grain of truth here. Connect point one with point three….Jeffrey Lewis tells us all of our living presidents (and our recently deceased ones) have failed to lead us to make the compromises needed to head this off.
So let us connect point two with the connected points one and three and get a plan. Trump asks all the living former presidents to a conference to help him think about what can be done regarding North Korea…it needs to last for a morning or an afternoon….an hour not enough, a day too much. For most of the time behind closed doors they throw feces at one another but toward the end they agree on a statement – it would be best if George W. Bush was the spokesperson – in which they all admit they failed regarding North Korea and affirm that we are left with no better option, the others being much much much worse than recognizing North Korea as a member of the family of nations. Then Trump can step back from his brinksmanship, blame it all on someone else while winning applause from his base (which is his forte), and start the wheels turning toward normalization.
It would be a way for our former Presidents to atone. It would be a praiseworthy albeit a completely self-serving move on Trump’s part. Trump and Kim Jong-un could cease stomping and the ants could resume their normal rhythms of rest.