So the headlines in Seoul yesterday were splattered again with articles expressing tremendous optimism about the remarkable breakthrough so clearly represented by the agreement of U.S. President Donald Trump to hold a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jung-eun.
There was also no small amount of drivel about how thankful President Moon Jae-in is, or should be, for the tremendous consideration, and genius, shown by master diplomat Trump for this stroke of genius.
Several commentators went as far as to say Trump’s brilliant move is certain to win him a Nobel Peace Prize.
But does anyone really believe that Donald Trump ― a reality TV sensationalist, carnival barker Twitter-as-policy president ― can be trusted with anything, or that he has anything to do with the decision-making process behind this bolt out of the blue?
Maybe you should pull out Naomi Klein’s classic book "The Shock Doctrine" and see how Washington operatives have traditionally employed completely unexpected events, or economic shocks, to shove their unpopular agendas down the throats of people around the world. The purpose is not peace, but rather confusion, and Trump is the emperor of chaos.
Let us just look at the Paris Accord and the Iran nuclear deal framework for a sense of how much we can trust the Trump team. We witnessed the U.S. become the only nation to pull out of the Paris Agreement to address climate change and it did so over the objections of everyone in government and academics who actually know what they are talking about.
In effect, the Trump regime is a post-reality regime bent on the destruction of not only the U.S. but the planet. How the Moon administration can trust them with anything, I cannot fathom.
And in the case of the Iran nuclear deal framework, we have a complex diplomatic agreement put in place through a series of treaties approved by the legislatures of the U.S., the U.K., Russia, France, China and Germany. It cannot be pulled out of without showing complete contempt for international law and diplomacy ― which is what Trump did.
So what are we to think? One day Trump calls Kim Jong-un the "Rocket man" and then threatens to destroy the North using nuclear weapons. The next moment he is ready to go meet him and make good. Are you anticipating a meaningful long-term breakthrough?
The only way to understand this behavior is in terms of professional wrestling, an honored sport well known to the master Trump. In pro wrestling anything goes, literally anything. The only condition is that the crowd is satisfied, as in a gladiator fight in the Coliseum of the decayed Roman Empire.
It is possible, of course, that Trump and Kim are feeling some positive vibes. Whether it is their "military-first" policies, their nepotistic and kleptomaniac habits or their cult of the self, they probably have lots to talk about.
The summit, if it actually happened, would be more like a gag show, late night comedy akin to the Korean runaway hit "Non-Summit" which just happens to mean, appropriately, "ridiculous summit meeting."
I fear the proposal is only a distraction. A meaningful summit would normally take place after a series of lower-level efforts to address trade and normalizations of relations. There first would be a formal visit by other high level officials to lay the foundations for meaningful discussions and also preparations to ease sanctions.
But there is no sign of such a move. If anything, more strict sanctions are being prepared. We see Admiral Harry "war with China" Harris being sent to Australia to sit on those Aussies who might oppose the militarization of relations with Beijing.
And we have Steve "trade war with China" Navarro, who may replace Gary Cohn as Trump’s economic adviser.
And everyone knows this whole show is about "China, China, China" and that North Korea is just playing a Ukrainian role in the bigger circus tent.
Sadly, it seems that many Koreans ― in the moments that they come up for air between playing video games on their smartphones, worrying about payments for their homes and their children’s cram schools (hakwon) and running around just to do their jobs ― do not have the time to think deeply about what is going on in this incredibly important March, 2018.
It is a perfect strategy to distract the people with a fantastic dream of a Kim-Trump summit, like something out of the Book of Revelations.
It keeps citizens from noticing how the #metoo campaign is being used to intimidate politicians, journalists and cultural leaders, how the Korean military is being suckered into a confrontation with China, how the Trump administration is using the GM factory closing and various threats of tariffs on steel and other products (with most of the threats never reported in the media) to bludgeon Korea into accepting a closer military integration with the far right in the U.S. and Japan through secret agreements not unlike the secret treaties that paved the road to World War I.
Emanuel Pastreich, a non-resident senior researcher of Center for China and Globalization(CCG).