Some thoughts on the North Korean meeting in Singapore.
Obviously, Americans of both political stripes have every reason to be suspicious of this event. North Korea, personified, is a pathological liar. Like a substance abuser, North Korea will twist and turn every promise and assurance into permission to get away with even more. President Trump made some rather football-spiking tweets after the fact, but the Czar notes he has walked those back quite a bit, acknowledging that much needs to be seen before it can be believed.
Curiously, one of the few better decisions made by President Obama was keeping North Korea almost at arm’s length. He would make a comment or two in their direction, but basically ignored North Korea. This apparent indifference was a serious thorn in North Korea’s side, and the Czar enjoyed it somewhat. President Trump, also to his credit, is taking a very different approach—almost treating the North like a bratty child who needs a sitting down and talking to. Yes, the photos and tweets and quotes seem to suggest Trump is treating this horrible and brutal dictatorship like an old friend (lest we forget Obama and Cuba), but here is basically what the North Koreans think of Donald Trump: he’s crazy, unpredictable, and he could well decide to wipe us off the earth as easily as order fish for lunch. Donald Trump scares the hell out of them, which even Reagan couldn’t do convincingly.
So the Czar notes with interest the following video, which you really don’t need to watch. It was produced by the North, and seems to celebrate the meeting as both significant and historical.
Already, many in the press are tearing their hair out over Trump saluting a North Korean general. But watch carefully (around 23:35 and following): the general salutes Trump, to which Trump quickly returns the salute. Understandably, few in the press ever served in the military, but the order of events here is significant, as the junior-ranking person initiates the salute, and the superior-ranking one opts to return the salute. In other words, you can quibble whether Trump should have returned the salute to the general, but the general was clearly treating Trump as a superior officer. And note the general did not break the salute and shake hands, which he could have done under these circumstances. He opted to show tremendous deference.
Speaking of which, take a look at all the interaction between Trump and Kim: in almost every shot—video that was edited by the North Korean government, mind you—Trump is putting his hand on Kim’s elbow and ushering him forward, turning him in one direction or another, and guiding him along. Psychologically, this is a significant: it’s clear that Trump is dominating the body language, and Kim is going along with it. You don’t need to be a poker champ to read these body cues: Trump is bossing Kim around right on North Korean television.
There are other subtle hints, too: note the American flag, in all cases, is presented according to the flag code—our flag is on its own right. In every single shot, our flag is positioned in a subtly dominant position, if you know how to read the code. Nice job by Singapore to do so for us.
Kim is clearly enjoying the camera flashes and crowds, but make no mistake: whoever coached Trump on what to do (assuming anyone did) gave him very good advice. The Czar was interested to see how often Trump “owned” the interaction.
And the Czar isn’t the only one to notice little tidbits like this. Check out Anna Fifield’s slick observation:
The North Korean documentary about the summit included photos of the declaration in English and in Korean — so North Koreans can see the words "complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula" in black and white pic.twitter.com/or3EFoomh5
— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) June 14, 2018