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Washington Monthly | Why Did Trump Flip-Flop So Dramatically on North Korea?

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It has recently been reported that Kim Jong Nam, the murdered half brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, was a CIA source. When asked about that story, the president’s response was rather bizarre.

It is unclear whether Trump was pledging to not recruit members of Kim Jong Un’s family as CIA sources or to not spy on the North Koreans at all. Either way, the president’s remarks amount to another slap in the face to our intelligence services and a great gift to one of the most dangerous regimes in the world.

The president then went on to talk about a “beautiful letter” he just received from Kim Jong Un, which he obviously can’t share with anyone. It seems that the two leaders have become quite the pen pals lately.

All of this reminds us once again that the president did a complete 180 degree turn on the North Korean dictator. As a reminder, here are some of the things he said in the past.

June 30, 2017

The years of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed. Many years and they failed. It’s failed. And frankly, that patience is over. Together we are facing the threat of the reckless and brutal regime in North Korea…The North Korean dictatorship has no regard for the safety and security of its people or its neighbors and has no respect for human life. And that’s been proven over and over again.

August 8, 2017

North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening — beyond a normal statement — and as I said, they will be met with fire, fury and, frankly, power the likes of which the world has never seen before.

September 19, 2017

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.

October 1, 2017

November 7, 2017

All responsible nations must join forces to isolate the brutal regime of North Korea — to deny it any form of support, supply or acceptance. The longer we wait, the greater the danger grows, and the fewer the options become.

November 30, 2017

January 2, 2018

Trump’s rhetoric about North Korea did a complete flip-flop in March 2018, as talk about a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un began to take shape. Now we see that the two leaders are supposedly exchanging love letters.

We can only speculate about what happened that changed the president’s tune so dramatically. What can be eliminated as an explanation is the possibility that North Korea has made any real concessions that prompted this reversal. So, given what we know about this president, it is hard to avoid questions about whether Kim Jong Un has something on Trump.

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