President Trump is back on American soil after a weeks-long trip through Asia to reenergize relationships with strategic partners and reaffirm America’s commitment to the region. The trip, which included stops in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines was a ringing success by any measure.
Over the 12-day trip, President Trump was able to successfully set the table for a worldwide coalition to comfort a nuclear North Korea, as well as gently bolster his populist message that he’ll work with Asian leaders to correct long-standing trade imbalances.
The issue of trade was especially prominent throughout the trip and President Trump was not afraid to be blunt in his wishes for a fairer economic relationship.
“[F]rom now on, [we] expect that our partners will faithfully follow the rules just like we do,” Trump said in a speech in Danang, “markets will be open to an equal degree on both sides, and that private industry, not government planners will direct investment.”
Trump was also vocal about intellectual property theft, which has cost American companies billions and undercut our innovative edge. He vigorously denounced not only the illegal actions of shady foreign companies operating in a regulatory vacuum, but went after the practice of foreign governments to demand surrender of technology in exchange for market access.
This, Trump promised, would come to an end, along with “massive subsidizing of industries through colossal state-owned enterprises … cyberattacks, corporate espionage, or other anti-competitive practices.”
Far from strict protectionism, Trump was willing to working with any Asian nation willing to abide by ground rules that are beneficial to everyone. He promised to “make bilateral trade agreements with any Indo-Pacific nation that wants to be our partner and that will abide by the principles of fair and reciprocal trade.”
The president offered a similarly powerful message on North Korea, whose wanton disregard for international norms and caustic pursuit of nuclear weapons, was well received in the region. Trump’s speech in Seoul highlighted North Korean atrocities and highlighted the powerful difference between the two Koreas:
Far from valuing its people as equal citizens, this cruel dictatorship measures them, scores them, and ranks them based on the most arbitrary indications of their allegiance to the state. Those who score the highest in loyalty may live in the capital city. Those who score the lowest starve. A small infraction by one citizen, such as accidentally staining a picture of the tyrant printed in a discarded newspaper, can wreck the social credit rank of his entire family for many decades. An estimated 100,000 North Koreans suffer in gulags, toiling in forced labor, and enduring torture, starvation, rape, and murder on a constant basis. In one known instance, a nine-year-old boy was imprisoned for ten years because his grandfather was accused of treason. In another, a student was beaten in school for forgetting a single detail about the life of Kim Jong-un….
And so, on this peninsula, we have watched the results of a tragic experiment in a laboratory of history. It is a tale of one people, but two Koreas. One Korea in which the people took control of their lives and their country and chose a future of freedom and justice, of civilization and incredible achievement, and another Korea in which leaders imprison their people under the banner of tyranny, fascism, and oppression.
Somehow, despite the historic nature of the trip (the longest trip to the Far East in a generation) and the progress President Trump made in building crucial relationships, Americans heard little from the media.
Instead, the media focused on inanities. The most media attention went to President Trump’s visit to a koi pond with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during which he was accused of overfeeding the fish.“Trump feeds fish, winds up pouring entire box of food into koi pond,” CNN reported. Never mind, that Trump merely followed Prime Minister Abe’s lead.
And the second most attention went to an awkward handshake with world leaders at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit.
“The president first crossed his hands in front of him, and then, after glancing at the leaders on either side, made a second attempt, this time lifting his arms outward, according to an Associated Press report,” writes the Washington Post’s Ashley Parker. “Finally, Trump alighted on the correct pose: He strained to reach the hand of the far shorter Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on his left and completed the maneuver with a wincing grimace.”
These are the things that are deserving of attention? Even left leaning publications like the New Republic were disgusted:
This quickness to pile on the president, at the expense of policy analysis, illustrates a growing problem on the left. Liberals and their media allies are becoming knee-jerk anti-Trumpists, always on the lookout for the president’s next embarrassing, meme-able gaffe—and sometimes pouncing without getting their facts straight.
Foreign policy is serious business with tremendous economic and security implications. By any measure President Trump advanced