Michael Malice, author of Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong-il, discussed President Donald Trump’s North Korea strategy with SiriusXM hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak during Wednesday’s Breitbart News Tonight. Malice described the president’s dual “madman” and “good cop, bad cop” approach as offering “reasons to hope” for human rights improvements in the totalitarian state.
Malice said, “I don’t really think Donald Trump’s the kind of guy who’s trusting. He seems paranoid — understandably and correctly — with members of his own staff. Remember, at the end of 2017, North Korea sentenced him to death for his tweets. The idea that Trump is going to look at Kim Jong-un as some kind of Mitch McConnell, that’s absurd. He’s clearly going to go into this knowing what these people are like. You remember at the State of the Union he brought out that refugee with crutches, so he knows how evil this regime is. I think the idea that he’s going to come in there with blinders on and think these are good guys who are going to do the right thing is false.”
Malice contrasted Trump’s approach with previous presidents, describing the president’s strategy as “good cop, bad cop” with the Chinese government. He said, “My gut is telling me that President Trump and China are doing a good cop, bad cop situation, where President Trump gets to be the madman — ‘Oh, my God, he’s an evil, crazy person!’ — and China gets to act as the reasonable one, and that will force Kim Jong-un to do what China wants and kind of bring themselves into the 21st century and curb many of their human rights abuses. That’s what my instincts are telling me.”
Mansour cast Trump as cultivating a persona of unpredictability. “It seems as if Kim has been used to being the one where he’s the madman. … Finally, he found an American president who says, ‘I’m crazier than you are, buddy.'”
Malice concurred with Mansour. He replied, “That’s been the North Korean strategy for decades, and there’s a very famous story where the great leader Kim Il-sung is with all these generals and with Kim Jong-il, and he says, ‘What happens if the U.S. imperialists attack?’ and the generals are like, ‘We’ll kill them all!’ and Kim Il-sung goes, ‘What if we don’t win?’ and they’re all standing around looking at each other, and Kim Jong-il says, ‘If we lose, we will destroy the world,’ and Kim Il-sung says, ‘Spoken like a real supreme commander.’”
Malice continued, “So from their mythology, the whole thing is, if we’re going down, we’re taking as many people as we can with us. So for Trump to say, ‘You know what? I’ve got a button on my desk, and it’s bigger than yours, and it works,’ that’s exactly their mentality and their language, and they’re like, ‘This guy gets us, or at the very least speaks in the same kind of terms that we do,’ which is a very essential beginning step for any sort of negotiation — when you have a common language and a common sense of action.”
Malice compared current circumstances between the U.S. and North Korea with those of decades past. He stated, “I agree with [Mark Levin] and others that history has been littered with failed agreements. That is absolutely true. However, if we’re starting with ending the Korean War, that’s something to build on, and what has changed from history is that Kim Jong-un, none of the leaders have ever left North Korea. They would go to China, maybe, or Russia. If Kim Jong-un is willing to leave the country, that is a show of some sort of submission. … It’s like in Hollywood, who gets up to sit at whose table? If you’re the important person, you sit, and people come to you. So for Kim Jong-un to be getting on a plane and meeting Donald Trump in some neutral territory, that says a lot, and also, he met directly with Pompeo. This is also largely unprecedented. The last time there was a meeting of this sort at the highest level with the leader himself, I think, was Madeleine Albright in 2000 with Kim Jong-il, which was very public. This was in secret. So this secret meeting with the Americans, at the very least, shows that they’re willing to play ball on some level. Does that mean these are good people and we can shake hands and everything’s going to be great? Of course not. But what I’m saying is there are reasons to hope, and I very much doubt that Trump is going to be the one who’s going to have the wool pulled over his eyes.”
Malice described Kim Jong-un as more “worldly,” “cosmopolitan,” and “enamored with the outside world” than his paternal antecedents, Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung. He described this feature as a possible asset for Trump in future negotiations to curb human rights abuses in the totalitarian state.
Malice replied, “I can answer you very easily. They’re bonkers. In the early nineties, Jimmy Carter went there to meet with the great leader Kim Il-sung. He had no official government capacity. When North Korea kidnapped an American reporter, Lisa Ling, and held her captive, Bill Clinton went there, under no official capacity, and got her released. So if you’re dealing with concentration camps, and people who are starved, including children, for political purposes, and your point is, ‘Well, we have to follow proper protocol’ when dealing with murderers who have blood on their hands, who kill their own family members, are you joking? ‘You’re not going through channels?’ This is insane. This isn’t like sitting down with Brexit or Theresa May. These are killers, and they’ve been killers for decades, and they revel in their brutality. So the idea that, ‘Oh, we’ve got to make sure we send the right guy,’ the right guy is the one who gets the job done. It’s not necessarily the one who has the correct titles.”
Breitbart News Tonight broadcasts live Monday through Friday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.