Liberals see Donald Trump as the embodiment of toxic masculinity. Trump’s voters see a real man.
My husband jokes that in our family, if anything is dead, bites or is on fire, it’s his job. North Korea was beginning to approach the “bites” and “is on fire” category.
It took a year of intense economic and military and psychological pressure to bring Kim Jong-un to the negotiating table in Singapore. Trump’s critics tried to spin the initial meeting as a diplomatic disaster.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will arrive in Pyongyang this week to kick off the negotiations. Satellite images show that North Korea is expanding missile production, so the Washington Post is calling the entire diplomatic effort a “sham” before actual negotiations have begun.
Trump’s critics are going to fall on their faces with North Korea, as with their other predictions of doom. They underestimate Trump time and again because his strengths are invisible to them.
The United States does not have to blink at threats from a squirt like Kim Jong-un. Our experts don’t know this. Trump does.
When Kim tried some last-minute bluster before Singapore, Trump canceled the summit. Setting clear lines is not a setback, it is a key to success. Trump was defining the relationship. Kim cannot make threats. We can. Trump was his usual blunt self: “You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”
Force of Commitment
It’s easy to point to Trump’s character flaws. His virtues are discounted by liberals who adore the Ivy League finishing school polish of Barack Obama. They never noticed the small, aggrieved, lying politician inside the fancy suit.
Trump wears big, ill-fitting suits by choice. He does what he likes. He does not tailor himself to suit others.
Trump’s critics do not understand the force of the president’s commitment to protect and defend America. His voters do. It is an essential, common sense, manly, American virtue—men protect their families. Men take care of danger.
It seems a big leap from New York real estate to international diplomacy. It is not. Being a confident, tough, aggressive man is essential in dealing with dangerous pipsqueaks like ISIS and North Korea.
The victory over ISIS came first and so fast that the partisan press had little trouble ignoring Trump’s achievement. After years of Obama flapping his hands and disastrously inviting Russia into the Middle East to do the job for us, ISIS was out of Syria. ISIS was in our weekly headlines, and then it was gone. No success here, move along.
Trump focuses on his goals, like any good businessman, not on his re-election prospects, as politicians do. His job as president is to protect the nation’s security and advance American prosperity. North Korea will not be a nuclear power, period. It’s too dangerous to let a rogue country, run like a slave-labor camp with a half-mad ruler, have nuclear missiles. Add in the fact that Kim is already selling military technology to Iran, and the task is beyond urgent. Trump sees that Kim is a dangerous weirdo murderer better than anyone. That is why he decided Kim must “denuke.”
His critics predict the same old diplomatic collapse when North Korea blusters and cheats. They think Trump is an idiot and can’t handle a Kim Jong-un. They think Trump’s aggression is out of control, even insane and destructive.
But then, they think all healthy masculinity is destructive.
“Don’t Mess With the Messer”
His voters believe Trump will win in Korea because they think the same way. Diplomats see complexity. Trump sees simplicity. A nuclear North Korea is dangerous to the United States. North Korea is small and weak. We are strong. It is protected by China, but China is no match for America either.
What is impressive is how Trump communicated the force of his decision to disarm North Korea to China and to Kim Jong-un. It took a year of strategic, multifaceted diplomacy and intimidation.
China has been buying off and manipulating our politicians for decades. Trump can’t be bought, and he does the manipulating himself. As the old Willie Dixon song goes, “Don’t mess with the messer, the messer gonna mess with you.”
Real estate tycoons like Trump win through intimidation. They are masters at that game. Trump isn’t intimidated by anybody. Not by business rivals, political rivals, lying journalists, not by rogue FBI agents. He is not intimidated by China, and certainly not by Kim Jong-un. Intimidation is what Trump does. It is a game he enjoys as a master.
Trump wants to upset the status quo with China. Trump puts the American worker, his voters, first. The powerful economic interests who profit from China’s predatory trade practices are less than nothing to him. He wants to win the existing trade war with China, the one that the United States has been losing for more than two decades. Accommodating to China is over.
War If Need Be
Politicians play things safe by doing what has been done before, solutions be damned. Trump the builder likes to get things done. It is not in him to follow Obama’s politically safe, irresponsible, do-nothing footsteps and call that “peace.”
North Korea could thumb its nose at us because it was protected by China. When Trump put China on notice he was going to war with them—a trade war, that is—calculations changed. Encouraging Kim’s bellicosity was no longer to their advantage. China shortened Kim’s leash.
The messages continued all year. Trump became more and more menacing. That ranged from bombing Syria during dinner with the Chinese premier, to mockery, to military exercises in the Pacific. This was not a phony Twitter war, it was geopolitics at the highest level. It is almost exactly a year since Trump sent the third carrier battle group into the western Pacific. It is said that when the United States sends one or two carriers, it is a show of strength. Sending out a third carrier means war. China and Kim got the message.
Asserting Power in Our Self-Interest
Why is Trump’s pragmatic, forceful, classic carrot-and-stick approach so difficult to grasp for our foreign policy experts and pusillanimous politicians? Because the solution requires character traits they don’t have. Masculine traits Trump and his supporters have in abundance—not accepting bullshit, not caring what other people think, not being afraid of a fight.
That is why his voters are sure North Korea is not going to be the dangerously useless diplomacy we have had since Clinton. Trump and his voters share a common outlook about getting the job done, no matter if it is dirty or difficult. Don’t over-complicate things, and don’t shirk your duty. Just do the job.
China and North Korea and Trump’s critics are getting to experience how a tough man goes to work. This is how a responsible president deals with a small but rabid country threatening the safety of our own nation.
President Trump understands we are a powerful country. He knows how to assert American power in our self-interest.
He is on the job.
Photo credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images