Saturday, September 23, 2017

#266 / Rogue States

Yesterday, the editorial pages of the San Jose Mercury News devoted a good bit of space to the current state of the relationship between the United States of America, headed by our President Donald J. Trump, and the Democratic Republic of North Korea, whose "Supreme Leader" is Kim Jong-Un

President Trump is the guy pictured on the right. Kim Jong-Un is the guy on the left. That's just in case you might get them mixed up, since they're both name calling, and that could be confusing. Our president likes to call Kim "Rocket Man," and has done so repeatedly. The derogatory tone that can be detected in our president's use of this label may be explained by the fact that our president is simply envious. If North Korea calls itself a "Democratic Republic," and that's what the United States is, too, then why can't Donald Trump call himself the "Supreme Leader" of the United States of America? He acts like that's the way he'd like to play it.

That very issue, in fact, what limits might exist on our president's prerogatives, was the subject of the Mercury's editorial in the September 22, 2017, edition. Our president went to the United Nations and proclaimed (in our name, as our representative) that he was being pushed to a position in which the United States "will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea." Feel free to ignore the split infinitive, and to focus on the content of this threat.

The Mercury was pretty clear about what was being said: "The president was not talking about regime change. Or sanctions. Or international pressure. He was talking about launching an attack designed to wipe out [kill] 25 million people ... [and this] was not an off-the-cuff remark."

Facing the Mercury's editorial, on Page A9, E.J. Dionne, Jr. joined in the criticism of Trump's speech. Dionne, however, seemed less concerned about our president's threat to kill 25 million people than he was about the "utter incoherence," intellectually, of President Trump's "America First" slogan. As Dionne pointed out, President Trump wants "sovreignty" respected. He specifically makes that claim on behalf of the United States, but he expects all national leaders to "put your countries first." 

Why doesn't that argument work for North Korea? Trump calls North Korea a "rogue regime," but what about a national leader who says he is planning shortly to kill 25 million people in another country because he doesn't like what their national leaders are doing?

There is more than one "rogue regime" in this picture, and I'd suggest that we all start looking at "America First."

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