We were supposed to be moving towards World War Three. Not only was North Korea testing its missiles, it was testing the patience of its neighbours. It was telling the world how far those missiles could reach and that included Japan and the United States. No one could say whether it was bravado or revealed a genuine intent, but it was chilling.
Then the United States goes and elects Donald Trump; he too, we were told, is a danger to world peace with his ridiculing of Kim Jong Un, his threats of retribution and his practice of conducting diplomacy by Tweet. World War Three was more likely because Trump also would have a finger on the button of the mighty US nuclear arsenal and who could predict what he would do or how others like Putin or Kim would react?
With North Korean army generals liable to be executed on the whim of its president and a nuclear missile programme escalating, who could say the launch button would never be pressed?
Then President Trump announces he is going to meet Kim Jong Un later this year and that the North and South Korean leaders will meet first too. Suddenly we are even more disorientated, Trump was achieving more in his first year as president than Obama had managed in eight. This was not the narrative we had been led to believe would play out.
Now we have seen with our own eyes one of the historical, surprising and memorable peace agreements taking place – not just because the combatants have remained technically at war since 1953 – but because it was done in such irreverent style. Walking towards each other in the demilitarised zone, all smiles, the extended handshakes and greetings more akin to long lost friend – and that hopping over the border line and back again so both could say they had been in each other’s jurisdiction, was the most surreal television event in modern times. Like the live broadcast of the breaking up of the Berlin Wall by thousands chipping away at it, those that saw Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in do their dance of peace will never forget it.
Meanwhile it is announced that President Trump will visit the United Kingdom on 13 July – and without any sense of irony left-wing activists announce they will stage a “Carnival Against Hatred” in protest. I don’t know why they included the word “against” when clearly it will turn into nothing other than a Carnival of Hate – with hatred towards President Trump and the United States at the same time.
Whatever the truth – and it will come out in time – the facts are that President Trump’s unconventional style, his unpredictability allied to calling a spade a shovel – as in his branding many of the world’s capitals “shitholes” – has brought the two Korean leaders together. It has happened on his watch. The South Korean president and foreign secretary both showered President Trump with praise and cited him with the credit for the development. In particular the US president’s abrasiveness has had more impact than the soft touch that were Obama with his pushover secretaries of state, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.
It is being said, often by the same people that claimed President Trump would lead us into a worldwide conflagration, that it’s all down to pressure from China. Frankly, that sounds at best churlish and betrays a blind subjectivity against the West’s most important leader. I have no doubt the North Koreans are feeling the pressure from Chinese economic restrictions introduced earlier this year, but why have the Chinese acted now, and not while Obama was president? Could it not be that President Trump’s willingness to challenge the Chinese on issues such as their unbalanced car import tariffs that favoured them provided them with a new rationale that working with President Trump is better than falling out with him?
I am sure there will be feminists that want to demonstrate against President Trump’s past misogynistic behaviour and rude Tweets. But where were their demonstrations about women’s rights when the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited our country only a few weeks ago? No doubt there will be the usual mob of anti-capitalist anarchists that will want to demonstrate against President Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again” through making it a successful economic powerhouse. But where were their demonstrations against the globalisation end economic liberalism when Chinese premier Xi Jinping came to Britain?
The stench of hypocrisy coming from leftist commentators such as Owen Jones is nauseating. If there was no impetus to demonstrate against Saudi Arabia or China and their heads of state, why demonstrate against the US president in a manner that parades insults and shows up our nation compared to others who welcomed him, such as the French?
North Korea has already announced it is closing its nuclear test site and is opening it up for inspection; North and South Korea have signed an agreement to make both of their countries nuclear-free zones and will formally end the state of war that still exists. There will be much more to do, but who is to say that with the help of China and the US together North Korea cannot liberalise like China did and become the second Korean economic miracle just like its neighbour in the south?
Suddenly, under Donald Trump the world feels a little safer than it did last week and he has undoubtedly played a role in that and promises to do more. The United States’ president is the head of state of that country and as such he and its armed services are a guarantor of our freedoms, including those freedoms to demonstrate. As we go into the brave new world outside the European Union we should be working hard to forge better relationships, not weaken our most important one. It makes more sense, even for those who don’t appreciate Donald Trump, to give him a warm welcome and if there must be protest to find novel ways of putting the point across peacefully and with humour, rather than offering mass protests that troublemakers can soon turn intentionally into violence.
If Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in can smile at each other then surely any critics of President Trump can show some grace and be able to make there points politely without rancour, but I shan’t hold my breath.