So Where Are We Now? — The World’s Still Standing
So what were you doing on November 7, 2017?
That’s okay if you don’t remember. Here’s a reminder, however: After what could only be called a political circus, a reality show star, who dabbled in real estate, beat out 17 contenders in the Republican Party to be the first-past-the-post ahead of Hillary Clinton.
Oh! Now you remember.
The past 14 months since inauguration day of a narcissistic 71 year-old (45th President of the United States), replete with what British author and social commentator Martin Amis has described as a “woodland creature” atop his noggin, have been a roller coaster of incredulity, orgasmic delight for the late-night talk show hosts, and repressed giggles from CNN commentators and the like. And not to forget, most obviously, the obligatory seriousness of various pseudo experts and network contributory analysts.
The only really good news in the age of Donald Trump is that the world has not exploded. For anyone with the self-imposed initiative, take the time to read up on the events leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis (October 16-28, 1962) and you will be not just impressed but actually astonished with President John F. Kennedy’s calm leadership in the art of de-escalation and crisis management. It’s one of America’s pivotal moments in Presidential leadership.
Think I’m full of shit? Well, first off, I’m a Canadian, and second I’m apolitical with no party or ideological affiliation. I’m a long-time student of leadership.
That brings me to where we are today. Usually, I’d be writing on a substantive leadership topic without any political or controversial overtones.
I must confess that while I delight in watching such late-night talk show hosts as Trevor Noah, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, Samantha Bee and Stephen Colbert skewer Donald Trump (sorry, but I’m unable to precede his name with the word President), there’s admittedly a pre-conceived bias with these folks to crap on this neophyte politician. We mustn’t forget CNN and the other mainstream news broadcasters. Trump can’t do anything right. And we conveniently forget the revolving door of past administrations, though the current one has probably set a Guinness Book record.
It certainly wasn’t by design that Mr. Trump bizarrely stumbled into an upcoming meeting with North Korea’s haircut-challenged dictator and Dennis Rodman fan, Kim Jong-un, whose eccentricities, since claiming control of one of the world’s poorest and most repressed countries, have been fodder for Saturday Night Live.
What gets lost in the parodies of Kim is that he has proved to be highly strategic in playing the long-game with the United States and the rest of the Western world. Like son, like father, except the former has proven to be even more cut-throat and provocative. He’s closing in on where he wants to be: in a strong position to negotiate with the U.S. and South Korea to ensure his country’s long-term survival.
The idea of a united Korea is sheer folly. The re-unification of East and West Germany was hugely challenging and expensive. It’s still in progress. For example, former West Germans’ net wealth is about 50% higher than former East Germans. Materialism (eg, expensive cars) is more common with the former West. And cultural differences continue. Those who’ve studied Germany since integration expect it will take at least another generation to significantly close the gap.
Re-unifying the two Koreas dwarfs the German experience. Point made.
From a political operative perspective, Trump would be smart to work towards an official peace treaty with North Korea, and with any luck Kim Jong-un would climb down from his desire to be an official member of the nuclear weapons club. However, trusting North Korea, based on past behaviours, is an exercise for fools.
President Ronald Reagan continually used the expression “Trust, but verify” with President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986 (much to the Soviet Union’s leader annoyance). Fast forward three decades and Democrat Party leader contender Hillary Clinton rephrased it to “Distrust and verify.”
Choose your preferred phrase.
Where will we be a year hence?
United wishes and good will cannot overcome brute facts. Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it. Ignorance may deride it. Malice may distort it. But there it is.
—Sir Winston Churchill (from his war memoirs)
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