President Trump hosted Turkish leader Recep Erdogan at the White House on November 13, and the two men held a joint press conference. While there was much amiability on display between the two leaders, no significant points of contention were cleared up. Turkish bank Halkbank remains indicted for violating Iranian sanctions. Turkey is still buying Russian weapons systems. The United States is not extraditing Fethullah Gulen, the Islamic cleric whose organization is blamed by Erdogan for the 2016 coup attempt.
What was made obvious was that Trump is committed to supporting Turkey over the Kurds, pushing that group further into the political arms of Russia and Vladimir Putin. One day later, Erdogan announced a renewed offensive against the betrayed U.S. allies.
On Sunday, the United States indefinitely postponed a planned joint military exercise with South Korea, as they have done many times throughout the Trump Presidency. The goal of maintaining good relations with South Korea and maintaining readiness to defend American interests in Southeast Asia have taken a back seat to the goal of satisfying Kim Jong Un.
“I see this as a good-faith effort by the United States and the Republic of Korea to enable peace, to shape … to facilitate a political agreement – a deal, if you will – that leads to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, via the Associated Press
Trump also addressed Un’s view on Joe Biden, ending with a comment aimed at another meeting:
Instead, North Korea has declared itself uninterested in further summits.
“We are no longer interested in such talks that bring nothing to us. As we have got nothing in return, we will no longer gift the U.S. president with something he can boast of, but get compensation for the successes that President Trump is proud of as his administrative achievements.”Korean Central News Agency, via ABC
The well-documented fact is that North Korea has gained considerably under Trump, but it wants more… in large part because they’ve gained so much. At this point, they’re simply trying for everything they might possibly receive from this President.
There is a secondary winner here, just as Russia was the secondary winner in the Turkish conflict. That big winner is China, for whom North Korea is a proxy state. During Trump’s attempts to strengthen ties with North Korea and weaken ties with South Korea and Japan, China gains influence in the region.
This is part of a pattern. Trump has consistently increased the power of American enemies while damaging relations with our allies… including with our direct neighbors Canada and Mexico. His actions regarding Venezuela even served Russia and China, by drawing out the opposition to the existing regime and then turning a blind eye when a revolution was attempted. Now Venezuela is on an effective news blackout, and word of death squads aimed at the rebels is left to trickle out via escapees.
This is why many have openly questioned – jokingly or seriously – whether Trump is actually working for America’s enemies. I would suggest a second possibility, one that is demonstrated aptly by the recent movement of U.S. troops to guard Saudi interests against Iranian actions. I believe Trump is simply a mercenary.
Whether by promises of construction or continued operation of Trump Towers in Russia and Turkey or by Trump-branded properties and Ivanka trademarks in China, those nations have successfully offered Trump the one thing greater than praise and attention. They have offered money. South Korea, the Kurds, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and allies in the European Union have only offered respect and solidarity.
Saudi Arabia has offered business deals with Trump, while Iran has not; there, he sides with our traditional ally over our enemy.
Trump has been accused by his most aggressive detractors of being a foreign agent. I believe they are correct, not because of any great loyalty he holds toward the dictators he respects, but rather for the simple reason that he is for sale.