Monday, October 9, 2017

"We have got to do what we said we would do"


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

October 9, 2017


                On September 22, North Korean Party Chair and President Kim Jong-un called President Trump “a dotard,” someone in dotage, in today’s usage, senile, his latest retort to a president who most has since called him “Rocket Man.”  Usually, he speaks for the Party, for the people, speaking of what “we” say.  This time, Mr. Kim made a point of speaking in the first person, for himself alone.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Tillerson has persisted in expressed willingness to talk (as perhaps via the Chinese), backed presumably by the Defense Secretary, to arrange a new truce on the Korean Peninsula, with the tacit backing of President Trump.

                Two days ago, Trump tweeted “only one thing will work.”  Just now, to reporters, he has simply said, “We have got to do what said we would do,” and when asked to clarify, simply repeated the phrase, and walked away.

                It comes across like a covert game of diplomacy, where it has been agreed, and I’m thinking affirmed by a code Tillerson has arranged for the US president to confirm “secretly” that Tillerson has his full trust and authority to negotiate a stand-down, and arrange dependable, covert diplomatic communications (if indeed that hasn’t already been arranged via China or Russia, for example).  And Tennessee US Senator, the Foreign Relations Committee chair, who is due to retire from office, tweeted of the president, “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning [meaning those he trusted to Trump has put in charge of State, Defense and National Security]”

                I’m reminded of the “good cop/bad cop” police interrogation method.  In this case, the US president’s insistence on saying and repeating one phrase, period, to say nothing of covert diplomacy—that the US president has just assured the North Korean leadership that Tillerson—backed and supported by the Secretary of Defense—has the power and authority to arrange a nuclear stand-down.  I hope this turns out to be a mutual accommodation, relief from threat on all sides.  It appears to be another indication of the limitations of assuming that the US president has a great deal of individual power to get done whatever he (or someday she) chooses, on a whim.  I’m also thinking that governmentally naïve US president may have been drawn into the intrigue and power of sending secret signals that his secretary of state represents him in coming to terms he is prepared to agree to, no matter his tweets.  Today I hear reports that sources from other national governments are also prepared to trust what Trump’s agents say and do more than what the president says…unless perhaps it comes in code.  In the social and political sciences as in real life, we do play games.  I hope this one works out.  Love and peace, hal

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