President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Friday to extol the virtues and the future economic promise of North Korea, which has long been a brutal communist dictatorship and shows no sign of changing its ways.
“North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, will become a great Economic Powerhouse,” the president of the United States said. “He may surprise some but he won’t surprise me, because I have gotten to know him & fully understand how capable he is. North Korea will become a different kind of Rocket – an Economic one!”
North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, will become a great Economic Powerhouse. He may surprise some but he won’t surprise me, because I have gotten to know him & fully understand how capable he is. North Korea will become a different kind of Rocket – an Economic one!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2019
Trump speaks of his personal impact on the American economy in glowing terms, but he has never referred to the United States as an “economic powerhouse.”
Even though the rhetoric is likely meant as a carrot to keep Kim at the negotiating table for the chance of getting some kind of a de-nuclearization deal, it is a very strange thing to say, given Trump’s rhetoric on socialism in the United States.
In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Trump took aim at socialism as a way to attack policies advocated by increasing numbers of Democrats in Congress.
“Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” he said. “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”
The policies at issue — such as Medicare for All, free college tuition, raising taxes on the wealthy, and implementing a Green New Deal — are increasingly popular with the voting public.
Some of those Democrats Trump had in mind, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), describe themselves at Democratic Socialists, which is not the same thing as the socialism that has historically been discussed in the United States. It’s worth briefly unpacking this.
There’s two ways of understanding the word “socialism” in the American political and economic milieu — one being conservative economic attacks on liberal policies like Medicare, and the other being actual economic central planning like the kind used in the former Soviet Union, and currently used in North Korea.
North Korea’s path to economic liberalization and opening up its borders would be extremely fraught. North Korea is both extremely unlikely to give up its nuclear capabilities in the near future, and to voluntarily change its economic system.
Last year in Singapore, Trump sat down with Kim Jong-un and worked out a vague agreement, similar to the one South Korea and North Korea signed earlier in the year.
Trump said Kim was “de-nuking the whole place,” which he said would “start very quickly.” But the president didn’t get it in writing, and the rogue nation shows little sign of actually giving up its nuclear ambitions.
The president’s decision to praise North Korea’s leader and express optimism about North Korea’s future economic prowess is puzzling.
The praise he heaped on a brutal dictator is also more glowing than any he has bestowed upon Democrats and most other domestic political opponents, all of whom are not murderous autocratic dictators