If you’re at all interested in the summit between the US and North Korea happening in Singapore, I would encourage you to ignore basically all of the mainstream media’s coverage of the event. It runs the gamut from blinkered ignorance to hawkish apoplexia to orientalist grumblings.
Instead, I would encourage you to watch this coverage hosted on Democracy Now!, especially the segments with Tim Shorrock, one of the best journalists writing on the US role in Korea, and Bruce Cumings, one of the best historians writing about Korean history in general and US relations with North and South Korea in particular.
It’s especially worthwhile to listen as Cummings describes the US bombing campaigns carried out against North Korea during the Korean War (1950-1953), and their effect on the history, identity, and views of North Koreans. If you don’t care to watch, just consider this testimony from General Douglas MacArthur, given before Congress in 1951, shortly after President Truman fired him as head of US military operations in Korea for unnecessarily trying to expand the war:
The war in Korea has already almost destroyed that nation of 20,000,000 people. I have never seen such devastation. I have seen, I guess, as much blood and disaster as any living man, and it just curdled my stomach, the last time I was there. After I looked at that wreckage and those thousands of women and children and everything, I vomited.
For my two cents, I’m in favor of peace over war, self-determination over imperialism, diplomacy and dialogue over militarist posturing and egotistical bluster, solidarity with ordinary people over voyeuristic obsession with their leaders.
It’s curious to note the almost total lack of discussion in the mainstream media of what South Korean leaders or its people think about the summit or US relations with North Korea more generally. Perhaps we should spend more time seeking out and trying to understand the perspective of ordinary Koreans and their leaders rather than become once again trapped forever in Trump’s gravitational field, locked in orbit around a hot, gassy planet devoid of life.
Simply put, Trump is a bad person. I think most people recognize this, even many of his supporters. What he does or does not do in office won’t change that. It’s not unlikely that effectively nothing will result from this summit. I would not be surprised if Trump’s main interest was simply to seize the opportunity, as he often does, to say that he did something no one else has done (whether true or not).
But if Trump and Kim Jong-un end the Korean War, denuclearize North Korea, remove the US military installations from the Korean peninsula, and allow a people separated by war, history, and everything else to choose for themselves how they’d like to live in the future, we’d be foolish not to take them up on it.