If the always eloquent President John F. Kennedy, a suave and mannered Democrat, was around today and said what you’re about to read, I suspect the distinguished members of our Fourth Estate would ask not what they could do for his words. The press would ask how it could quote his words more often every hour of every day.
“The past does not have to define the future. Yesterday’s conflict does not have to be tomorrow’s war. And as history has proven over and over again, adversaries can indeed become friends,” President Trump told reporters in Singapore after his private meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.
“We can honor the sacrifice of our forefathers by replacing the horrors of battle with the blessings of peace. And that’s what we’re doing and that’s what we have done,” Mr. Trump said.
I haven’t heard or read these words quoted anywhere by the news media. The president was forecasting what he hopes is the imminence of a formal end to the war that U.S., South Korean and U.N. forces waged 65 years ago. It ended in an armistice, a cessation of hostilities pending a peace agreement that has yet to be fashioned.
The enemy was North Korea, led back then by Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung. His army had invaded South Korea but had to retreat — permanently — back across the 38th parallel, even with help from 12 Chinese divisions — a million soldiers — who had crossed the Yalu River into the South, where 400,000 of them remain, killed in action.
The brutal Kim dynasty hasn’t changed. It has arguably gotten more brutal under the 34-year-old third current dictator, to whom Mr. Trump was so courteous and even complimentary in their Singapore meetings.
The president had said earlier he would turn around and fly home if he detected at the outset that Mr. Kim wasn’t serious about “de-nuking.” Reporters asked what concrete assurance of denuclearization Mr. Kim had given in return for the prestige and generosity that the president of the United States had bestowed upon him. This time, Mr. Trump employed many words to acknowledge that he got nothing back from Mr. Kim but words.
Well, I think can you ensure anything?” Mr. Trump finally acknowledged. “Can I ensure that you’re going to be able to sit down properly when you sit down? I mean, you can’t ensure anything.”
Then came tumbling from his lips these words that reveal what for him was the essence of the Singapore summit.
“All I can say is they want to make a deal. That’s what I do. My whole life has been deals. I’ve done great at it, and that’s what I do. And I know when somebody wants to deal, and I know when somebody doesn’t. A lot of politicians don’t. That’s not their thing, but it is my thing,” Mr. Trump said.
That’s his essence. He has decided he trusts the butcher of Pyongyang who had his own uncle and half-brother assassinated, has killed top aides for looking the wrong way, has 120,000 fellow Koreans in the political prisons where many starve to death and on and on in the Kim-dynasty atrocities department.
Mr. Kim is all that and more — an insecure strong man who is desperate for a deal that will relax the death grip of global trade-and-finance sanctions. His country with its Stalinist-era police state and centrally planned economy had a per-capita GDP rank of 214 out of 228 countries in the world before the U.S., China and most of the rest of the world imposed their latest round of sanctions.
Why not join the Trump haters who deride him for trusting a man like Mr. Kim? Because I know when a man can be trusted to do what he promises. It’s what I do.
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