It should have been known by the acolytes of President Donald trump who rushed to nominate that there is no Nobel Prize for trying, even for something as ephemeral as peace. But why would they know it? They wouldn’t be his acolytes if they did.
Now that Trump has abruptly canceled his much touted summit with North Korea’s supreme leader* Kim Jong-un, much to the embarrassment of South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, the limits of showmanship as a substitute for substance have become all too obvious. Incidentally, the South Korean leader was also among those to suggest that Trump should get the Nobel Peace Prize even before he sat down with Kim. Even the Norwegian Nobel committee, which is not averse to rushing with the prize—a case in point being former President Barack Obama—would have scratched its head over the suggestion.
The issue, of course, is much more serious and deeper than the Peace Prize. Those who have followed North Korea’s successive leaderships—Kim’s grandfather and “eternal” president Kim Il-sung and father Kim Jong-il—say that it was foolish to prematurely articulate triumph merely because the current leader showed some signs of flexibility.
It is not my case that the summit may never happen at some future date but the cancellation should serve as a sobering reminder before Trump displays a penchant for TV showmanship again.
President Trump released a copy of the formal letter he sent to Kim informing him of the cancellation of the summit. The language of the letter has been a subject of mockery and derision because it reads like a jilted sophomore trying to keep his options open with the one who jilted him.
In the first paragraph, Trump writes, “We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that too us is totally irrelevant.” I don’t know what that means. Perhaps he is saying that it does not matter who asked whom out first as long someone asked someone out.
He also writes, “If you change your mind having to do with this most important, please do not hesitate to call me or write.”
There is nothing particularly wrong with the letter except that it sounds like the president of a high school student body might write. However, considering these two men have bragged about the size of their nuclear buttons the letter seems perfectly appropriate in tone.
I also noted the odd indenting at “of the Democratic…” There is a wholly unnecessary gap. Also, commas are not in vogue any more.
I am not handwriting expert but I have observed handwriting over the years. What strikes me about Trump’s signature is that it is of a person who is in a perpetually assertive mode about his existence; someone who feels the need to assert his virtues and is prone to grandiosity. I would have said this even without knowing him and even if he were just an ordinary person.
What happens now would be a matter of how the two men separated by nearly four decades see the importance of personally meeting. Trump clearly wants to meet even if it just a photo op. That could be equally true of Kim too.
It would be interesting to find out how Kim’s two meetings with China’s President Xi Jinping played any role at all in the change of tone in the South Korean leader. Trump points out “tremendous anger and hostility” in Kim’s recent statements as the main cause for the cancellation.
I do not want to scoff at any attempt, however inept, at peace. Hopefully, the two men will meet sooner rather than later and without the showmanship which both are so prone to.
*I found out that since Kim Il-sung was declared as “eternal” president, the title of president is not used for his son and grandson. They are known as supreme leader or more formally “chairman of the state affairs commission.”