Trump’s Dishonest Tactics on North Korea

Trump’s Dishonest Tactics on North Korea October 16, 2018

Still going through the transcript of Trump’s interview with 60 Minutes and noting all the various types of deflection and dishonesty he used. This post will look at the questions about North Korea. And note how he tries to argue that his actions there were necessary because, without them, we would have gone to war.

Lesley Stahl: What about North Korea? Talking about accom–

President Donald Trump: Well, I consider it a, so far, great achievement. Look, we–

Lesley Stahl: You say “so far”?

President Donald Trump: It’s always so far, til everything’s done. I– I– you know, deals are deals, okay? Whether it’s a real estate deal or a retail deal, it doesn’t matter. But I will say this. The day before I came in, we were goin’ to war with North Korea. I sat with President Obama–

Lesley Stahl: We were goin’ to war?

President Donald Trump: –and– we were gonna–I think it was going to end up in war. And my impression is– and even in my first few months, I mean, that rhetoric was as tough as it could possibly get. Doesn’t get any tougher than that. Nobody’s ever heard rhetoric that tough. We were going to war with North Korea. Now, you don’t hear that. You don’t hear any talk of it. And he doesn’t wanna go to war, and we don’t wanna go to war, and he understands denuclearization and he’s agreed to it. And you see that, he’s agreed to it. No missiles.

Lesley Stahl: Do you trust him?

President Donald Trump: I do trust him, yeah, I trust him. That doesn’t mean I can’t be proven wrong —

Lesley Stahl: Why would–

President Donald Trump: about it?

Lesley Stahl: you trust him?

President Donald Trump: Well, first of all, if I didn’t trust him, I wouldn’t say that to you. Wouldn’t I be foolish to tell you right here, on 60 Minutes–

Lesley Stahl: Well, remember what Reagan said. “Trust, but verify.”

President Donald Trump: Sure. I know. It’s– it’s very true. But the fact is, I do trust him. But we’ll see what happens.

Lesley Stahl: But is it true that they haven’t gotten rid of a single weapon, and they may actually be building more missiles-

President Donald Trump: They want to–

Lesley Stahl: With nuclear–

President Donald Trump: And I will tell you that they’re closing up sites.

Lesley Stahl: But–

President Donald Trump: Setting it up.

Lesley Stahl: Is what I said true, that they haven’t? Gotten–

President Donald Trump: Well, nobody really knows. I mean, people are saying that. I’ve actually said that.

Lesley Stahl: What? That they’re still building missiles, more missiles?

President Donald Trump: We don’t really know, Lesley. We really don’t know. But I assume–

Lesley Stahl: Suspect that?

President Donald Trump: Let’s say the answer is yes, okay? In the meantime, they haven’t tested a missile. They haven’t tested a rocket. They definitely haven’t done a nuclear test because you know about them real fast. It sort of moves the earth. And we have a relationship now.

Lesley Stahl: One of the things that Kim has asked for is for you to ease the sanctions.

President Donald Trump: We haven’t done that.

Lesley Stahl: Are you prepared to do that? What– what does he have to do–

President Donald Trump: No, No. I–

Lesley Stahl: Before you’re–

President Donald Trump: No I’m not doing it. This isn’t the Obama administration. I haven’t eased the sanctions. I haven’t done anything. I haven’t done anything. We’re meeting. I believe he likes me. I like him. We have a good relationship. It’s very important.

President Trump at rally: “And then we fell in love, okay. No really. He wrote me beautiful letters. And they’re great letters. We fell in love.”

Lesley Stahl: I wanna read you his resume, okay? He presides over a cruel kingdom of repression, gulags, starvation– reports that he had his half-brother assassinated, slave labor, public executions. This is a guy you love?

President Donald Trump: Sure. I know all these things. I mean– I’m not a baby. I know these things.

Lesley Stahl: I know, but why do you love that guy?

President Donald Trump: Look, look. I– I– I like– I get along with him, okay?

Lesley Stahl: But you love him.

President Donald Trump: Okay. That’s just a figure of speech.

Lesley Stahl: No, it’s like an embrace.

President Donald Trump: It well, let it be an embrace. Let it be whatever it is to get the job done.

Lesley Stahl: He’s a bad guy.

President Donald Trump: Look. Let it be whatever it is. I get along with him really well. I have a good energy with him. I have a good chemistry with him. Look at the horrible threats that were made. No more threats. No more threats.

So many techniques of dishonesty on display here. Once again, you have the “people are saying” tactic, which Trump seems to cling to almost instinctively whenever he needs to make a claim without taking credit for whether it’s true or false. He’s not saying it, you see, but other people, other people he can’t name, are saying it. And “nobody really knows” whether Kim is still refining material for nuclear weapons or building new nuclear bombs. But our own intelligence services say he is. Trump might know that if he bothered to take most of his daily intelligence briefings. But he ignores them anyway because his “gut instinct” obviously knows more than they do. Besides, they’re part of the “deep state” and are conspiring against him. See how he immunizes himself against any and all evidence that might contradict the narrative he wants to present to the public?

And hey, he knows that Kim is a murderous thug. He knows that Kim locks people up in concentration camps, starves his own people, kills his own family members with anti-aircraft guns. He knows this. He’s not a baby, you know! But he has good chemistry with him, he likes him a lot, they get along well. And the guy writes him really nice letters. So who really cares about little things like human rights? Now, that does not mean we shouldn’t be negotiating with him on the nuclear weapons issue. Iran does some terrible things too, but we were still right to sign the agreement with them on nuclear weapons. Diplomacy requires dealing with bad guys sometimes. But you don’t praise the guy as a wonderful guy because he writes you nice letters. You don’t act like after a couple hours face to face, you’re now best pals who will be double dating to the next sock hop at school. But Trump knows no other way. You’re either the most horrible person on earth or the most wonderful person on earth, no in-between. And the same person can be both at different times, depending on what is convenient for him to portray you as at any given moment.

But mostly, I want you to notice the “if I hadn’t done this, we’d be at war” claim. He apparently thinks you won’t notice that the only way we would be at war with North Korea now is he Trump himself made the decision to go to war with them. He makes it sound as if war was the only inevitable result if he had not met with him, agreed to nothing and then declared victory and the end of any threat from North Korea. That is utter nonsense. Again, a long-used technique of dishonesty — pretend that what you did had to be great because the only possible alternative was so unthinkable. But there are, and were, a great many options in between “declare a fake victory in negotiations” and “go to war.” It’s the old fallacy of the excluded middle (not that Trump understands that or could articulate it, he only knows that it works).


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