The ill-prepared President Trump came back from his meeting with Kim Jung Un in Hanoi as a clear loser in everyone’s eyes except his own. I think it would be naive to believe that if given the 70 plus page report by experts on North Korea (scroll down for excerpts) he would open it let alone read it. He is a person driven by egotistical psychopathology, not intellectual curiosity.
Not only was Kim a winner, but Vladimir Putin was as well. Kim and Putin are ruthless dictators who would probably score high on the Hare Psychopathology Checklist, a screening test for potential psychopaths, but they are not malignant narcissists who ignore their expert advisors and are driven by their needs to glorify themselves the way Trump does.
Clinically malignant narcissism is a combination of psychopathic characteristics and severe narcissistic personality disorder. There have been many dictators who were psychopaths but only a few were extreme narcissists who wanted to be worshipped as gods and surrounded themselves with opulence, Caligula and the Mongol emperor Tamerlane, and the Bible’s Herod the Great for example. Vlad the Impaler (left) is also said to have been a malignant narcissist sociopath.
Hitler was a psychopath but I’m not aware of psycho-historians (see “Insane or Just Evil”) suggesting he was an extreme narcissist, but history suggests that Josef Mengele and Reinhard Heydrich, the chief of the Reich Main Security Office (including the SD, Gestapo, and Kripo) may have been malignant narcissists.(from 10 Monumental Malignantly Narcissistic Sociopaths.)
The Russian foreign minister Lavrov “just happened” to be in Hanoi at the same time, and Putin got one thing (at least) that he wanted, the end of American participation in joint military exercises. The Washington Post reported that “Trump has given North Korea a valuable bargaining chip for free.”
President Trump was right to walk away from a deal with the North Koreans last week. But he was wrong to walk away from annual military exercises with our South Korean allies. That move raises fears that walking away from our decades-long alliance could be next — something that would be disastrous for the United States.
The United States and South Korea have been allies since the start of the Korean War in 1950. With United Nations backing, U.S. troops rescued the South from a devastating invasion by the North. While the war ended in 1953, no final peace treaty has ever been signed. Our troops have stayed behind ever since, guaranteeing that a second invasion from North Korea would meet with a swift and massive U.S. response.
The training exercises are crucial to the alliance’s viability. They allow U.S. and South Korean forces to practice repelling an invasion by North Korea, ensuring that troops and commanders can work closely together in the event of an actual attack. They also signal continued U.S. commitment to the alliance itself.
SAN FRANCISCO — North Korean hackers who have targeted American and European businesses for 18 months kept up their attacks last week even as President Trump was meeting with North Korea’s leader in Hanoi.
The attacks, which include efforts to hack into banks, utilities and oil and gas companies, began in 2017, according to researchers at the cybersecurity company McAfee, a time when tensions between North Korea and the United States were flaring. But even though both sides have toned down their fiery threats and begun nuclear disarmament talks, the attacks persist.
In 2017, Mr. Trump mocked Kim Jong Un as “rocket man” in a speech at the United Nations, while North Korea tested missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the United States. The attacks began soon after that. Though the two sides failed to reach an agreement last week, Mr. Trump struck a conciliatory tone toward his North Korean counterpart.
“This renewed activity, taken just two days afterthe inconclusive Hanoi Summitbetween President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, may indicate North Korean plans to demonstrate resolve in the face of U.S. rejection of North Korea’s demands at the summit to lift five U.N. Security Council sanctions enacted in 2016-2017,” the analysts said. As NBC News reported, Beyond Parallel, a project sponsored by the defense think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, recently identified 20 undisclosed missile sites in North Korea.
Now, Bermudez (a senior fellow for imagery analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies)says, the test stand appears almost completely reassembled, and the building has been rebuilt with all but part of its roof. The work happened sometime between Feb. 20 and March 2, when the commercial images were taken by the company DigitalGlobe. Given that the site has lain dormant for months, Bermudez believes the work probably took place after Feb. 28, when the Trump-Kim summit concluded unsuccessfully.
Even if Sohae is being rebuilt after the failed summit, Kim isn’t violating any agreement with the U.S., notes David Wright, co-director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “There is nothing that restricts North Korea’s ability to do testing of its ballistic missiles,” he says. While Kim has maintained a voluntary moratorium on flight testing, ground tests at facilities like Sohae are unrestricted.
Donald Trump was desperate for a foreign policy win. He needed something, anything, to distract from the onslaught of investigations coming closer and closer to him and his family and his continued erosion in the polls.
The Washington Post’s Robert Costa writes that “Trump’s foreign policy is part nationalist, part conservative, part isolationist, part militaristic pageantry. He distrusts traditional alliances such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and slaps punitive tariffs on adversaries and allies alike.” What does “military pageantry” have to do with diplomacy? It is pure narcissism! Costa comes close to suggesting this in his next sentence: “In many ways, Trump’s worldview has been boiled down to a mantra lacking labels and ideology: It is what Trump says it is.”
The president is notoriously and dangerously inclined to ignore the advice of experts and rely on his impulses. He may call going with his finely tuned gut instinct, but he’s a malignant narcissist whose overriding need is self-aggrandizement.
This has no place in a leader making and certainly no place in a president making decisions that can have life or death consequences.
Afterword: If Trump was the president we wish we had he would study this 70 plus page detailed report on North Korean policy recommendations. The report covers An Evolving North Korea, Objectives & Strategy, Economic Policy, Human Security, and Diplomacy. He would meet with the authors and have them lay out the reasons they made their conclusions.
The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Report of the International Study Group on North Korean Policy, note the futility of trying to insist that N. Korea abandon its nuclear weapon program entirely and in fact say it has backfired. The scientists explain why a broader strategy is necessary in order to achieve success.
The pursuit of immediate disarmament has not only distracted from a range of pressing challenges; it has also exacerbated them. Allied deterrence and diplomatic policy has generated incentives for Pyongyang to expand, diversify, and conceal its nuclear arsenal. In its current form, the international sanctions regime has unnecessarily contributed to the suffering of the North Korean people from privation and infectious disease, and may have helped to enhance the regime’s overseas illicit networks.5 Attempts to isolate the regime have aided its attempts to isolate the North Korean people from the international community. The challenge of negotiations and a series of missteps have caused strains between Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo.
There is no mix of economic, diplomatic, or military pressure that can verifiably eliminate North Korea’s arsenal on accept- able terms in the next few years.6 The United States and its allies can no longer rely on the assumption that North Korea will rapidly eliminate its nuclear arsenal.
North Korea has developed a credible nuclear capability in part because the United States and its allies were highly inconsistent in seeking a negotiated agreement with the regime. Now that the effort to prevent this capability has failed, main-taining political will and alliance coordination and devoting resources to managing and transforming North Korea has never been more imperative or challenging. Without the fiction of a proximate nuclear-weapon-free North Korea, policy successes are likely to be partial, gradual, or consist in the prevention of disastrous events. Even under the best of circumstances, failures will be commonplace—whether they are ongoing human rights atrocities or repeated attempts to break out of sanctions and deterrence restrictions.
Yet, a nuclear-armed North Korea makes it more important than ever that the United States and its allies continue to prioritize the issue. The regime’s ability to exploit technological changes to enhance its internal control and to circumvent international sanctions are unprecedented. The consequences of deterrence failure or accidental military escalation could be catastrophic. If North Korea policy is allowed to drift without a revision, the strategic and practical consequences could be grave.
The critical national security interests and moral responsibil- ities at stake require that the United States and its partners undertake a sustained effort to actively manage and transform North Korea. It is still possible to create a morally tolerable and stable Northeast Asia, provided that the United States and its allies craft a realistic strategy and devote to it the req- uisite time, attention, and resources to see it succeed.
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