President Donald Trump continues to upend established American domestic and foreign policy at every turn. This Friday, he abruptly announced that he’d ordered the cancellation of additional rounds of sanctions the Treasury Department had unveiled just the previous day targeting Chinese shipping companies that have helped North Korea evade the economic impact of their isolation.
He revealed the decision in a Twitter post — because of course he did. In that Twitter post, he got a basic detail of the globally-relevant sanctions in question wrong, claiming them to have been unveiled on Friday as opposed to Thursday.
As he put it:
‘It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!’
Trump has dragged the execution of U.S. foreign policy to an incredibly low point. It now hinges on error-packed, haphazardly thrown together Twitter posts from Mar-a-Lago, the Trump-branded resort where the president is staying this weekend.
As for an explanation for the abrupt decision, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered:
‘President Trump likes Chairman Kim, and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary.’
That’s right — a whole round of sanctions targeting a nuclear-powered regime has been cancelled because Trump “likes” their dictatorial leader, Kim Jong Un. Not only that, but in light of that fondness, Trump “doesn’t think” the additional sanctions will be necessary. The catalyst isn’t that he has data suggesting they’re unneeded in the form of new concessions from the North Koreans, finer tuned economic numbers, or whatever else. Nope, he just likes Kim and doesn’t feel like having the sanctions in place.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had touted the sanctions as indicating that the “United States and our like-minded partners remain committed to achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea and believe that the full implementation of North Korea-related U.N. Security Council resolutions is crucial to a successful outcome.”
The New York Times shared that “[c]urrent and former Treasury Department officials were stunned” by Trump’s move to the contrary.
This abrupt presidential break from America’s national security apparatus definitely fits into a broader pattern. At a rally before the midterm elections, he proudly asserted that he and Kim “fell in love,” and to that end, he recently held a second in-person summit with the leader, but that effort ended without any signed agreement.
That premature conclusion apparently didn’t disillusion Trump, however, who is seemingly still riding on the strength of his love affair with a murderous dictator to keep the world from plunging into a nuclear winter, dumping the protective mechanisms normally in place in the process. He even withdrew the United States from joint military exercises with the South Koreans that had been planned for last year, while there have been little if any indications that the North Koreans have halted their nuclear weapons programs. After Kim and Trump’s second in-person love fest, satellite imagery emerged indicating the North Koreans had begun “rapidly rebuilding” a missile launch site.
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