Opinion

What Trump Understands That Obama Didn’t

The world is aggressive and cruel, and if you want to achieve something, you have to employ force and threats. A policy of appeasement doesn’t work with evil terrorist regimes like North Korea and Iran

President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump shake hands following their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The pundits who hate Donald Trump weren’t confused for one moment. They won’t let the new reality influence their views. For them, Trump is the embodiment of evil, and the United States is an evil capitalist power. Therefore, everything it does is evil and horrible.

To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz

They effortlessly explained that the framework agreement between the United States and North Korea is but a worthless piece of paper that will never be implemented. They turned Kim Jong Un into the big winner who made a laughingstock of that idiot Trump. With typical self-righteousness, they raised the issue of human rights in North Korea and  complained that the agreement ignores it.

>> At Summit With Kim, Trump Abdicated America’s Global Role – Except on Iran |  Analysis ■ North Korea’s Kim Is Big Winner of Singapore Summit but Trump Comes Up Short | Analysis

None of them bothered to point out how we reached this pass. None of them mentioned Barack Obama’s long string of failures that let North Korea become a nuclear power. After all, Obama is one of the good guys. You’re not allowed to criticize him.

They didn’t mention that, throughout his entire eight years in office, Obama adopted a policy of appeasement toward Kim. On the one hand, he insisted that the United States would not accept a situation in which North Korea had nuclear capabilities, but on the other, he didn’t prevent Pyonyang’s nuclear tests. Obama offered Kim economic aid if he halted the tests, but Kim laughed and continued to develop a bomb and ballistic missiles until he became a real threat, even to the United States.

Throughout those eight years, the Trump-hating pundits had nothing to say against Obama for his failure to address the problem of human rights in North Korea – the murders, torture, arrests, executions and atrocities that take place in the tyrant’s concentration camps. But why do they make this accusation only against Trump? Hypocrisy is sacred.

These pundits refuse to understand that the world is aggressive and cruel, and if you want to achieve something, you have to employ force and threats – the military and economic powers of a superpower. They don’t understand that a policy of appeasement doesn’t work with evil terrorist regimes like North Korea and Iran.

But Trump understands this very well. Therefore, he got the entire world, including China, to impose unprecedentedly harsh sanctions on North Korea, including adding it to the list of state sponsors of terrorism. He also threatened it with a military invasion, including by ground forces, and said that if necessary he would annihilate it. That’s exactly what Kim was afraid of, so he changed direction and began talking about denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

Look what happened with Iran. Trump’s scrapping of the nuclear agreement and imposition of sanctions is already seriously damaging it economically. Haaretz’s Amos Harel reported this week that according to Israeli intelligence, the chain reaction started by the sanctions has been more significant than expected. After all, no global company can ignore the U.S. market. Therefore, many giant corporations have already severed their ties with Iran.

This has led to growing pressure in Iran to stop funding Hezbollah in Lebanon, Bashar Assad in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Instead, all this money would be redirected to addressing its sagging economy that includes high unemployment, soaring inflation and a sharp depreciation of the currency.

Kim understood that his country’s economy, which is already in terrible shape, would collapse completely due to the U.S. sanctions, and that this would lead to a revolution that would end with him on the gallows. So he changed his approach. The Iranians haven’t yet understood this, but they’ll understand soon, when their economic situation worsens and demonstrations against the regime intensify.

None of this means that a comprehensive, detailed agreement on denuclearization is already in Trump’s pocket. It isn’t. But negotiations reduce the risk of nuclear war, and that’s no mean feat.

Now we'll have to keep tabs on the long, dangerous negotiations that will include disagreements, threats and crises. But Trump is going in the right direction on both North Korea and Iran.