February 20, 2019 13:53
U.S. President Donald Trump asked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to recommend him for the Nobel Peace Prize, in another of the grandiose gestures that have characterized his presidency. Appearing in parliament, Abe did not directly admit it but did not deny either.
According to the daily Mainichi Shimbun on Tuesday, Trump telephoned Abe in August of 2018 and asked him for his recommendation, apparently pointing out to him that no North Korean missiles have flown over Japanese airspace since the U.S.-North Korea summit in June last year. This must be the first instance since the Nobel Peace Prize was launched in 1901 that an aspiring winner practically twisted the arm of another country's arm for a recommendation, certainly in the so-called First World.
In an editorial entitled, "Prime Minister Abe, Are You Kidding?," the daily pointed out the U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore last year in fact only resulted in a halt to joint U.S.-South Korean military drills but not the scrapping of North Korea's ballistic missiles or nukes.
Trump's lack of self-restraint does not need dwelling on. What is unnerving is that he is trying to use the North Korean nuclear crisis to feed his greed for the Nobel Peace Prize. He sounded confident when he said last year that the North would scrap its nuclear weapons, but now it seems he does not care any more and says he is in "no rush" to see North Korea denuclearize. This raises fears that Trump has given up on prodding North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons and is simply trying to dream up ways to get his Nobel Prize with a quick fix of some kind. This means that the upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit could end up becoming a geopolitical performance aimed at dazzling the Nobel committee.
Even though the summit is just around the corner, the two sides have not even agreed on the agenda. This is highly unusual. If Kim Jong-un sits down with Trump with little preparation from the U.S. and flatters Trump enough, South Korea's national security will plunge to the bottom of the priority list. Trump has long treated any war on the Korean Peninsula as a foreign matter. Staging a fake nuclear meeting aiming to win the Nobel Prize will jeopardize the safety of South Koreans. Yet President Moon Jae-in said he believes Trump "is well-deserving" of the gong. Who then will prevent South Koreans from becoming hostages of a nuclear-armed North Korea?
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