The Trump-Kim Summit Was Authoritarian Theater

Every time I write about Donald Trump's and Kim Jong Un's various interactions, I note that each of them is trying to get something out of this twisted perversion of diplomacy, and in neither case is it peace or disarmament. Trump is seeking to normalize Kim and authoritarianism more broadly; Kim is seeking legitimacy on the global stage. Both of them are hoping to further destabilize the region and create a power vacuum that can be exploited.

Their latest summit in Vietnam was no different. And, in an entirely unsurprising turn of events, the summit ended abruptly with no deal having been reached. (Because no deal was ever going to be reached.)

The talks broke up early, with North Korean security jumping into moving cars in a scramble to leave the scene, lunch was cancelled, and Trump took questions where he upended the story being about the failure of the summit and replaced it with breathless reporting about his extraordinary claim to believe Kim, who supposedly asserted he didn't know anything about the torture of detained American Otto Warmbier, who later died.

Naturally the press is eating it up, because they never fail to fall for Trump's manipulations.

But let us be clear: Trump doesn't actually take Kim at his word about Otto Warmbier (or anything else). Trump is a profligate liar, and liars like that always assume that other people are lying to them — just like a thief always thinks someone is stealing from him. Expansive liars like Trump are the very opposite of naively trusting. Trump is lying about this, too.

The reason for Trump to publicly pretend to believe and trust Kim (like he has publicly pretended to believe and trust Putin) is because it's part of Putin's and Trump's observable strategy to subvert trust in institutions and normalize autocracy.

That most people will react to Trump saying he trusts Kim by rejecting that premise as garbage doesn't matter. There are millions and millions of people who will take Trump seriously. This is how the global subversion of democracy and realignment of alliances happens.

We are in real trouble. We have been, and we continue to be, and we will remain in real trouble unless and until Trump and the rest of his traitorous regime are removed from office.

He is a danger to We the People of the United States, and he is a threat to the entire world.

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