Trump in 2011: If South Korea wants our protection, they need to make their TVs in America
These past few days, you might be forgiven for thinking we’re all living in a Chris Morris sketch. Specifically this Chris Morris sketch…
Martin Craste: This is the sort of misunderstanding that I thought we'd laid to rest during our negotiating.
Chris Morris:Misunderstanding it certainly is. It's certainly not a treaty, is it. You're both at each others' throats, you're backing yourselves up with arms, what are you going to do about it? Mr. Hawtrey, let me give you a hint. BANG!
Gavin Hawtrey:What are you asking me to say?
Chris Morris:You know damn well what I'm asking you to say! You're putting yourself in a situation of armed conflict! What are you plunging yourself into?
Gavin Hawtrey:You'd like me to say it?
Chris Morris:I want you to say it, yes.
Gavin Hawtrey:You want the word?
Chris Morris:The word!
Gavin Hawtrey:I will not flinch...
Chris Morris:You will not flinch from?
It is, of course, a fool’s errand trying to identify a strategy - beyond bluster, ignorance and the need to rile up the most insane dregs of his base - in Trump’s posturing towards North Korea. It’s patently obvious he has absolutely idea what he’s doing, and no comprehension of the possible consequences of his actions.
Still, as I was watching CNN yesterday morning - a commentator suggesting that North Korea’s strategy is to try to drive a wedge between America and North Korea - I felt a small twinge of recognition. A flashback to the one time I’ve ever been in the same room as Donald Trump: A campaign rally from his previous presidential run back in 2011.
As I wrote at the time, the rally itself was a masterclass in lazy profanity…
“I’m going to say, listen you motherfuckers, here’s a 25% levy on Chinese imports...” Throughout his speech, Trump cursed like a tourettic Soprano. This despite the fact that the average age of attendee was close to triple figures, even allowing for the half dozen children I counted scampering around the room. On Iraq he cursed about how we can build schools in the war-blighted country (“schools, which they then blow up”) but “we can’t get a fucking school built in Brooklyn”; On oil: “You have oil at this much a gallon because someone in Washington said ‘You ain’t gonna raise the fuckin’ price”; on Trump’s lack of racism: “Some of my friends are Chinese; But now they’re not talking to me. They’re like ‘shit, can you believe this guy?’”
And on and on. To the point that the AP reporter sitting next to me broke off her conversation with one of the organizers: “Sorry, I have to listen to this — he’s going to curse some more.”
But, for many of us in attendance, it also gave the first insight into Donald Trump’s foreign policy -- including how he might react to increased hostility from North Korea. Here’s what he said on the subject in 2011…
“Every time I buy a television — and I buy a lot of televisions for the Trump hotel — I look at the market and I end up buying LGs from South Korea.”
The crowd waited for its cue. Where was Trump going with this, I wondered. If he attacked foreign goods, then he’s tacitly admitting the TVs at his hotels suck. But he can’t praise foreign manufacturing. Unless... “they’re good televisions — but why don’t we make them?” Huge applause.
In fact, televisions form an important cornerstone of Trump’s foreign policy. If South Korea wants American troops to continue to help defend it against the North, he explained, then they’re going to have to agree to make their televisions in America. Problem solved. Big cheer.
You read that right. If South Korea wants America to continue honoring our mutual defence pact, LG will have to agree to make its televisions in America. Otherwise…. Kaboom! Seeya wouldn’t wanna South Koreaya!
Seen through that lens, President Trump’s strategy these past few days makes total sense. Ratchet up the rhetoric until war in the Korean peninsula seems inevitable. Wait until North Korean troops are massing at the border and then make the call to President Moon Jae-in…
“Hey Seoul, nice population you got there. Shame if anything were to happen to it. Is this a good time to talk about those LG televisions?”
Hello, American jobs!
The guy’s a genius.