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Conning the Con Man in Chief

Don Rose 13 March 2018 5 Comments

As fans of “The Sting” know, the best of cons is when you con the con-man. Looks to me as if North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is about to pull of that trick against our very own Con-man in Chief, aka Donald Trump, by getting the president to sit down with him across the grown-up’s table–something neither Kim’s father nor grandfather was ever able to pull off.


Without ever saying so directly he’s got Trump thinking he’s ready to talk denuclearization and uniting North and South Korea. What Kim will actually accomplish is being seen as a major power on the world stage instead of a crazed outcast. All that he promises is to halt nuclear and ballistic testing during the talks. What Trump imagines is that he will get denuclearization concessions from Kim and having a much-needed “Nixon in China” triumph.

Why now? First off, Kim is pretty well set with his nuclear program–80-90 percent complete, needing only an ICBM capable of carrying a nuclear load across the entire US and re-enter. But he doesn’t really need that because he knows the consequences would be total destruction of North Korea–maybe the world.

Kim sees a seriously embattled Trump with the Sword of Mueller hanging over his head, a GOP split on his tariff program, a major exodus from the White House and a porn star about to reveal his shortcomings. He needs a universally recognized victory.

Let’s look at that universally desired denuclearization issue first. Has any nuclear power ever agreed to dump its weapons? A bilateral reduction here and there among the world’s eight nuclear nations is the best that’s ever happened. But countries that have surrendered incipient programs have met bad fates. Saddam Hussein’s was barely a twinkle–if at all. See what happened to him. Libya’s nuke program was voluntarily scrapped and look at it now. Syria’s start-up facility was destroyed by Israel, never to rise again. To say nothing of Iran’s decade of messes.

North Korea has broken de-nuke promises to Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama. How would anyone think the most successful of the Kim family will do anything different? He wants a permanent seat at the world-power table and figures the only way to keep it is with a deliverable nuclear stockpile.

As to uniting the two Koreas, how do you conjoin two drastically different forms of government–a US-backed, weakly democratic South and Kim’s autocratic communism? Germany reunited only after the fall of Soviet communism. The murderous Kim wants to run it all. Would he surrender absolute power? He won’t even share with his family. Add the fact that a united Korea is the last thing Kim’s ally China wants to see. Ain’t gonna happen despite the smiles and handshakes.

So here comes Trump to meet Kim somewhere, sometime, without any experts on Korea or seasoned diplomats. Besides, he prides himself on ignoring experts. Who knows what can happen with these two volatile characters?

Composer John Adams wrote the opera “Nixon in China.” The best we can hope for here is a comic opera where the con man gets conned. “The Sting” redux.

Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer


  • John Powers said:

    Don, aren’t you skipping a minor detail in Libya, where your man Obama and the doofus EU Foreign Policy people start a war against a Libya which gave up WMD and terrorism 10 years before?

    Might be easier to negotiate with rogue regimes if we didn’t attack them after they disarm.

  • Observant said:

    Are you viewing the world through rose colored glasses? Obama was a con man par excellent. The Clintons were criminal con artists and the charitable foundation is about to be exposed as a criminal enterprise. Mueller has found nothing in months, so he needs to expand the scope of his investigation while ignoring tons of findings about the Clintons and Obama that were exposed during his fishing expedition.

  • Observant said:

    Marilyn Albright (Clinton’s Secretary of State) negotiated with North Korea and enabled its nuclear program.

  • Observant said:

    Seems to me that the Clinton Administration had a Secretary of State who negotiated with North Korea. Madeline Albright enabled the North Korean nuclear program which has brought about the current crisis with “Rocket Man.”

  • Mike Buck said:

    “Has any nuclear power ever agreed to dump its weapons?” As a matter of fact, the answer is “Yes.” The DeKerk regime in South Africa dismantled its small but very real arsenal of six shotgun-style uranium bombs (the type dropped on Hiroshima)in 1989.Designed to be delivered by aircraft, the apartheid government developed and assembled this small cache of nukes as a
    hypothetical defense against Cuban and Warsaw Pact troops operating under Soviet auspices in Angola and Mozambique in the 1970’s. Pressure from the U.S., France and the U.S.S.R. prevented South Africa from ever testing this weapon (we never tested the Uranium bomb before dropping it on Hiroshima, but it worked). Pressure from the same countries helped bring about the dismantling of the arsenal, though not until the Soviet bloc venture into Africa had proved a bloody failure and the Soviet Empire had begun its collapse. And, perhaps the DeKirk government had seen the writing on the wall and didn’t want nukes in the hands of a new ANC dominated government.

    Admittedly the differences between the nuclear programs of South Africa and North Korea are very significant, but the South African nuclear disarmament illustrates that the pressured or forced dissolution of a nation’s nuclear program can be accomplished. The most disturbing aspect of Mr. Rose’s article is not his usual construct of wishful speculation and unproven assumptions. It is its defeatism, the underlying premise that we can’t prevent North Korea from achieving deliverable nuclear weapons, nor, by extrapolation, can we prevent anyone else from obtaining them. Like Trump or not, he lurched into the truth when he told Tim Russert that nuclear proliferation is the biggest problem facing the world. And one cannot simply assume that a meeting between Trump and Kim will result in a benefit to Kim. At least Trump seems to have some awareness of the gravity of this problem and that it is not just another political problem to be handed off to the next administration.

    Google “South African nuclear program.” There are pictures on line of the casings of the South African bombs. They look gruesome.

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