Donald Trump’s North Korea Embrace Endangers the World — and Israel
There was a time when conservatives and Republicans led America’s charge against communist regimes that starved millions in the Ukraine, tortured to death hundreds of thousands in gulags, and lowered the Iron Curtain on Eastern Europe.
But today’s alignments have changed, notably on the political right.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin — a Stalin fan — is a White House favorite. So, too, is the world’s last Stalinist regime: Kim Jong-un’s North Korea, where perhaps well over a million of its own people have been tortured and put into “re-education” and labor camps, all while other North Koreans — except for the communist elite — starve.
A few years ago, North Korean defectors gave first-hand accounts of the Pyongyang regime’s gassing of political prisoners. The victims’ suffering was fully documented by scientists who took notes through the glass-enclosed gas chambers — which were also wired for sound to hear the doomed humans die in agony. The reports about brutal and horrific murders in North Korea are prolific and undeniable.
Furthermore, North Korea — despite its latest “kissing summit” with President Trump — is still committed to developing nuclear-tipped missiles capable of raining destruction on even West Coast American cities.
It also continues selling missile and nuclear technology to Iran, with scientists from each country visiting the other’s missile tests. Both provided military assistance to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and actively sided with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, an enemy of Israel and the West.
Yet “populist conservatives” like Tucker Carlson — who accompanied the Trump party to the Korean DMZ — support Trump’s three substanceless summits with Kim Jong-un, because they say he had to choose between “the bad and the worst.”
Which regime on the planet is “worse” than North Korea? Maybe Iran. But North Korea is helping Iran build nuclear weapons and spread terror.
Winston Churchill made “a pact with the devil” — Stalin — to defeat Hitler. Yet Churchill never lost sight of the moral compass that guided his politics — to protect freedom from its most dangerous enemy: first the Nazis, then the Soviets.
What is Donald Trump’s excuse for embracing North Korea’s totalitarian despot today — the temporary high of another global photo op? Or negotiation of a “freeze” that normalizes North Korea’s status as an ICBM-equipped nuclear power by means of an agreement similar to those that Kim’s father reneged on under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush?
And Trump has never unequivocally condemned North Korea’s mass murder and human rights abuses.
If Trump’s right-wing populism has become a kissing cousin of Kim’s dictatorship, it should give the American people pause.
Jewish conservatives concerned about Israel’s security should be especially skeptical about any deal that puts less of a curb on North Korea’s nuclear development than the deal with Tehran that the Trump administration withdrew from.
Historian Harold Brackman is coauthor with Ephraim Isaac of From Abraham to Obama: A History of Jews, Africans, and African Americans(Africa World Press, 2015).