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Lindsey Graham Says Only Possible Outcomes From Trump-Kim Talks Are 'Peace or War.' He's Wrong.

Such binary thinking has gotten the United States into trouble in the past. It should be rejected now.

EPN/NewscomEPN/NewscomNow that President Donald Trump's meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un is in the books, a new chapter in the tense relationship between the two countries can be written.

According to reporting by The New York Times, the United States has promised to stop war games in the region and to open diplomatic channels to the long-isolated nation, while North Korea has re-committed to de-nuclearization. It is important to remember that Monday's meeting is really just one step towards lasting peace. Or at least a step away from nuclear war.

It's also important to remember not to listen to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

On Sunday, Graham appeared on ABC's This Week to try to create a false choice on North Korea that would put the United States at greater risk of military conflict with Kim's regime. The outcome of the Trump-Kim meeting, Graham said, could be just one of two things: "Peace, where we have a win-win solution, military force where we devastate the North Korean regime and stop their program by force, or to capitulate like we've done in the past."

"Donald Trump is not going to capitulate," Graham concluded, "so there's really only two options—peace or war."

This is true in the strictest sense, of course, because the relationship between any two nations can be described as a state of peace or a state of war. But real life is hardly so binary, and those two outcomes exist at the extreme ends of a continuum with nearly limitless alternatives in between. Indeed, if the only two choices were "war" or "peace," we might have to be mobilizing for a conflict with Canada after the spat that has unfolded during the past two weeks between Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. That obviously sounds absurd, and so does Graham's assessment of international relations.

Trump's meeting with Kim is unlikely to result in an immediate outbreak of peace. Beyond the nuclear weapons issue, there are horrific human rights violations for which the North Korean regime will eventually have to answer. Those have been off-the-table so far because they are seen as a third rail in the negotiations. There is a long way to go, but hopefully Monday's conference in Singapore is a small step towards the "peace" end of the continuum.

And if it turns out that it was not a step in that direction, well, that doesn't mean that war is the only alternative either.

"Lindsey Graham is a danger to the country by even proposing ideas like authorizing war with Korea," Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told CNN on Monday, just hours before Trump and Kim were set to meet.

Paul said Graham's comments reflect a "naive worldview where he believes that war is always the answer, and that means expenditures for war are always the answer."

Graham's binary thinking about how to deal with rogue states has not served the United States well in the past. The "if you're not with us, you're against us" rhetoric of the George W. Bush administration is something for which America is still paying a steep price—not only in Iraq, but in our ongoing efforts to avoid a repeat of the Iraq disaster with fellow "axis of evil" members Iran and, yes, North Korea.

Whatever missteps he's made in other aspects of foreign policy, Trump deserves credit for making the effort to open diplomatic channels with North Korea. Graham's binary worldview—one that he is not alone in holding—is too easy and too weak. It requires no critical thinking. Trump seems willing, for now, to consider a more nuanced understanding of war and peace.

In short, Trump has given peace a chance. Hopefully, he'll give it a second chance and a third one too, if necessary.

Photo Credit: EPN/Newscom

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It's also important to remember not to listen to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

    An evergreen sentiment.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Lindsey's father's name is Florence. I shit you not.
    Nuff said.

  • Just Say'n||

    Florence and the Warhawk

    Better band name than Florence and the Machine

  • Vernon Depner||

    It's a Southern thing. Many names considered "girls' names" in most of the US are traditionally male names in the southeast. Vivian, Blanche, Ashley, Carroll, Hyacinth, Gale, Dana, Marion, Evelyn, Lauren, Faye, Leslie—and, yes, Florence and Lindsey—are all historically men's names in Appalachia and the southeast.

  • MichaelL||

    Wonder if he had the same effeminate voice?! Maybe, it is gender dysphoria with an genetic link!?

  • BambiB||

    Most of whom lack more than 3 opposing teeth and make sheep nervous.

    I think I hear banjos.

  • Libertymike||

    FoE, are you posting from the parade?

    Say hello to Aleksandr for me!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If I wanted to see guys passing around Crosby's sloppy seconds fourths...

  • Sevo||

    "Beyond the nuclear weapons issue, there are horrific human rights violations for which the North Korean regime will eventually have to answer."

    Nope. Threaten the Kims with justice and you can forget any peaceful outcomes on the Korean peninsula.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Agreed. Best thing that can be done at this time for your average NorKor is allow that country to enter the 21st century (or at least the 20th). Even a slight increase in prosperity will reduce starvation deaths significantly.

    The oppression and abuse inflicted on the NorKors is directly related to the fear Kim feels about his own power and security.

  • BambiB||

    Kim has an opportunity here to be seen as a hero to his people. Dismantling his nuclear program, ending the war with the South and moving towards reconciliation would be worth billions of dollars in assistance and immense future prosperity. The impact on N. Korea would be greater than the reunification of Germany was on E. Germany. Average income in N. Korea could easily triple in 5 years, though controlling emigration to the South might initially be a problem.

  • Just Say'n||

    The southern belle, Lindsey, has not been right about anything with regards to foreign policy his entire life

  • Nardz||

    "Shitty deal or war."
    First Obama, now Lindsay. Well, I guess Lindsay didn't limit it to a shitty deal, he left room for a good one, so he's at least a little better than NO.
    Still, it's almost like the "elites" lack an ability for complex thought.
    Routine must be protected at all costs, even nuclear war!

  • Nardz||

    *BO not NO.
    Fuck you, phone

  • Libertymike||

    That John McCain and Lindsey Graham are BFFs says it all.

  • Happy Chandler||

    (Narrator)Trump capitulated (/narrator)

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Graham concluded, "so there's really only two options—peace or war."

    You can be sure that no matter what happens Graham will move the goalposts on what he defines as peace so that he can start the drumbeat for war.

  • Hackmaschine Mutter||

    "No war is over until the enemy says it's over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote"
    James Mattis

  • DajjaI||

    No the only possible outcome is whether you are a bitch or a gimp.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Funny, reason offered exactly the same level of thought-out analysis of the iran deal. But that was different.

  • Sigivald||

    Well, as much as Graham is more or less wrong, he's also absolutely right.

    After the meeting, the United States will either be in a state of war with North Korea or it won't.

    (Almost certainly "won't", in fact.)

    The problem is the implication that such a meeting has any chance of creating a Permanent, Lasting, Serious Peace, rather than the peace that is merely war's absence.

  • perlchpr||

    Wait. Aren't we at war with North Korea still? I thought the whole weirdness there was that the whole thing was just under armistice, and that the Korean War is, in fact, still ongoing.

  • Longtobefree||

    Correct; go to the head of the class.
    Not only are we still involved in armed conflict under the UN auspices, (not "war", really), but North Korea has formally repudiated the cease fire, so it is void. And thanks to the UN membership requirements, the legislature cannot stop our military without pulling out of the UN.
    Points to Trump for not falling into a peace treaty; he can impose a naval embargo at will. That will make the sanctions really, really hurt, because nothing goes in or out except through China. OK, and maybe that little bit of border with Russia. So he has a nice big stick to help NOKO actually do the stuff they say they will.
    Slight chance of a war with China of course, but I doubt it. They need us much more than their fraternal socialist brothers who suck resources.
    Iran on the other hand will miss out on a lot.

  • Abe Froman||

    There is another option: heap the ignominy on ass-wipe Lindsey Graham he so richly deserves.

  • Longtobefree||

    Sen. Lindsey Graham said something. He is wrong again.
    (Readers Digest version of article)

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I think most people have mussed the point of the entire exercise.

    For that last Century or so, a lot of what has been wrong with Western diplomacy has been an excessive attachment to process. Politicians and diplomats have been far too quick to grant concessions to belgerant-talking dirtbags in order to preserve the appearance that diplomacy was ongoing. They gave little to no thought to the question; "Is the deal I'm working on here better or worse than not talking to this little sh*t at all?"

    Trump BROKE OFF preparations for the summit when Kim Jong-un blustered. Obama would have sent him a cookie. When Kim backed down, Trump went forward with the summit.

    What deals (if any) are made during the summit doesn't matter that much, if Trump maintains the lesson; 'Rant at me, and we will not Summit. You want to Summit with me not because I will give you nice presents, but because you would find the alternative extremely unpleasant.'

    I don't know if a series of summits will drive home this lesson without our actually having to pound some idiot like cheap veal, but it seems to me that it's worth a try.

    Diplomacy is credit. It benefits the entire world if wee can run international relations on that kind of credit. But for it to work, the rogue nations have to believe that if our credit is refused, we WILL pay cash, and we will send the U.S. Marines to deliver payment.

    And telling them 'talk nice to us, or we won't talk to you at all' is a necessary first step.

  • MikeP2||

    Most of the world operates on the "strong horse" philosophy. Never, ever let someone walk on you. Never apologize. Never lose face.
    Far, far too many western progressive diplomats think they need to apologize to the world for past wrongs.....99% of the State Department and the EU. Which is the exact opposite approach most of the rest of the world would do. It makes us look weak and ridiculous. Pretty much Obama or Carter in a nutshell.
    Trump understands this. Strut and posture, proclaim the size of your arsenal. That's what works....and has worked for millennia.

  • mtrueman||

    "Trump understands this. Strut and posture, proclaim the size of your arsenal. That's what works....and has worked for millennia."

    I was surprised to hear Trump characterize military exercises as 'provocative' exactly parroting North Korean propaganda. Then he agreed to cancel these exercises, exactly what North Koreans have been asking for decades. Obama or Carter never would have imagined doing this.

    "Pretty much Obama or Carter in a nutshell."

    My guess is you don't know much about Korea or Carter. Check out the Gwangju massacre if you can spare the time.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    But for it to work, the rogue nations have to believe that if our credit is refused, we WILL pay cash, and we will send the U.S. Marines to deliver payment.

    That's one tactic. It's led to terrible consequences in the past. Fortunately, it's not the only tactic.

    It's also not clear that that's what happened here. I don't think Kim was brought to the table based on the idea of imminent threat. Just like his grandfather and father weren't. That regime has been eager to make a deal, and took all the steps to assure that they would be in this situation. Trump, to his credit, has apparently executed on that.

  • mtrueman||

    "Trump, to his credit, has apparently executed on that."

    Trump agreed to unconditional talks with North Korea. Until now, presidents have been telling North Korea to improve human rights, denuclearize etc, and only then face to face talks can take place.

    As for s ending marines, it was bluff, and the North Koreans knew it. July 4th last year saw some of the North's most dramatic missile and nuclear tests, and the marines did nothing. In the aftermath of these tests, Trump set the gears in motion for the summit.

  • mtrueman||

    "And telling them 'talk nice to us, or we won't talk to you at all' is a necessary first step."

    It's a bit of a climb down from "disarm and cease your roguish ways, or we won't talk to you at all."

  • Nardz||

    Well said CSP.

    "And telling them 'talk nice to us, or we won't talk to you at all' is a necessary first step."

    Literally one ignored by BO and Kerry, who begged the Ayatollah to tell his negotiators to stop yelling at them... but never stopped "negotiations"

  • Juice||

    If the definition of peace is lack of war, then yeah.

  • Dillinger||

    title shortens better to "Lindsey Graham should be rejected."

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Trump has had a good couple weeks. Between this, the pardon, the olive branch to the NFL, and his signaling about Russia deserving a seat at the economic table, he is making all the right moves both diplomatically and strategically.

  • mtrueman||

    Trump's agreement with North Korea seems far less stringent than the hated and disastrous agreement ironed out between Obama and Iran.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Yeah, as most media outlets are reminding us right now to an annoying level, nothing has really been accomplished yet. But there's more movement in that direction than there has been in some time. What's more, to me the most telling line came from Kim, who said that they were putting the past behind them. Which is a really remarkable thing for them to say, even if he's bullshitting.

  • mtrueman||

    "Yeah, as most media outlets are reminding us right now to an annoying level, nothing has really been accomplished yet."

    You haven't been paying attention. The whole world saw Chairman Kim and President Trump alone together talking amiably. This has been something North Korea has been angling for for decades. Trump also committed to putting an end to US's "provocative" (Trump's words) military exercises, another long standing North Korean obsession. They've fulfilled their dreams of decades over the course of an afternoon in Singapore. Otherwise I agree with the thrust of your comments.

  • Heraclitus||

    We just have to remember that with Trump gone Pence can do the same thing. As long as FOX news is on board we can have peace. This is a no-brainer. When Obama floats the idea of talks FOX news goes crazy. When Trump floats the idea they cheer. So if FOX says that we should normalize relations everything is great and peace is at hand. Oh, and they can do the same thing with Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba. But they won't. The one thing Trump is doing that is positive is showing Americans that the difference between an enemy and a friend is just a matter of how the media and the leaders frame things. Thinking people already know this. We know that the reason we don't fret about Saudi Arabia is because they are our allies. They oppress their citizens and give money to terrorists and so on but since we say they are friends they are friends. Period. Trump is just ripping the facade off that facade. He won't, of course, admit that this is how it works because he plays the friend/enemy game well too. That's why Obama is evil for negotiating deals with iran and somehow unconditionally meeting with North Korea is worthy of a peace prize.

    So if we all say to Trump, "thanks for opening up these new possibilities, now please resign". we should all sigh in relief and demand that Pence keep up the progress. Then Trump can go open up a resort in North Korea.

  • Will Seth||

    During every negotiation with L'il Kim, the USA should anchor a dozen massive freighters off the coast filled with rice and wheat...when there's a positive outcome, deliver it to the malnourished citizens of NK... when there's a negative outcome...dump it and webcast it on YouTube for the world to see. Just because we can. Nothing says overthrow like starving citizens.

  • Nardz||

    +1,000,000

    Will Seth, I like the way you think.

  • mtrueman||

    "Yeah, as most media outlets are reminding us right now to an annoying level, nothing has really been accomplished yet."

    We should slap economic sanctions on North Korea! They won't last a day!

  • Sevo||

    Being a fucking imbecile is the reason you are mostly ignored.

  • mtrueman||

    Writing from experience? Don't let it bother you. Someday you may have a puppy nipping at your heels every comment you make.

  • Rockabilly||

    Graham loves war, it gives him a boner.

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