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How Donald Trump Stacks Up With A Real-Life Despot - Kim Jong Un


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How Donald Trump stacks up with a real-life despot - Kim Jong Un


Last updated 05:00, June 7 2017





President Donald Trump refers to amounts of temperature change as he announces his decision that the US will withdraw from the landmark Paris Climate Agreement.


OPINION: Some people say that Donald Trump is authoritarian. They say that if the constitution did not restrain him he'd become a despot. It's a harsh charge. Perhaps we should compare him with an actual despot and see how he stacks up.


Both President Trump and Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un of North Korea have unusual hair styles. Un's is designed to make him look taller. Trump's is designed to make him look younger. Neither works. That both leaders persist with their hair styles may suggest a shared obstinacy.


Both Leader Un and President Trump have followed in the footsteps of their fathers. And both had help from their fathers when they started out. Un's father gave him a country. Trump's father gave him a million dollars. Un still has the country and it seems probable that Trump still has the million dollars, though we cannot know for sure unless he releases his tax returns. It is possible that he owes so much to the Russians that he has had to go into politics to pay them back.


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the defence detachment on Jangjae Islet and the Hero Defence Detachment on Mu ...


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the defence detachment on Jangjae Islet and the Hero Defence Detachment on Mu Islet located in the southernmost part of the waters off the southwest front.


Neither Leader Un nor President Trump has seen active military service. Un is too young to have fought in the Korean war. Trump is old enough to have fought in Vietnam but was prevented by a series of draft deferments, initially for academic reasons and then because of some bone spurs in his feet. The bone spurs disappeared soon after the war ended.





Kim Jong Un watches a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People's Army.


Nevertheless both Leader Un and President Trump like military hardware. Un clearly enjoys a parade of tanks, guns and goose-stepping. And when a missile takes off he grins like a baby. Trump grinned like a baby when selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. He called those weapons beautiful. He also enjoyed firing missiles into Syria. He called those missiles unbelievable.


Leader Un seems a geopolitical loner. President Trump, in contrast, meets many foreign leaders. He clearly feels most comfortable with authoritarian male ones who have a bit of blood on their hands. He has praised the Saudi King, President Duterte, President al-Sisi and President Erdogan, and posed for smiling photographs with all of them. He also clearly enjoyed meeting representatives of President Putin. But when he had to pose with Chancellor Merkel, who is not only a woman but also clean of hand, Trump couldn't look at her. He sulked and squirmed like a naughty boy who's been forced to next to the girly swot.


Both Leader Un and President Trump like to be centre stage. But Un is far better at getting there, or at least his officials are better at putting him there. Every event that Un attends is organised so that he stands alone. In contrast Trump sometimes has to do his own organising. For example, at a recent Nato meeting he had to manhandle people himself, shoving aside the prime minister of Montenegro, before he could assume his rightful position and preen for the cameras.


Neither President Trump nor Leader Un is fond of a free and independent media. But once again Un has done a better job. He can turn to any newspaper, radio or television station in North Korea and be confident of finding only praise. Admittedly this may be because Un was preceded in office by his father and grandfather who did a lot of good work in this area. Perhaps if the day arrives that we witness the inauguration of unelected President for Life Barron Trump II, the media landscape will have altered a bit. But as it stands Trump can turn with confidence only to Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and a couple of astonishing websites.


The sort of praise that Leader Un reads in his newspapers is extravagant. "Our dear Leader," says a typical editorial, "is the guardian of the homeland and the creator of happiness". Trump adores praise like that but can get it only from his own officials. "President Trump has a magnetic personality," writes Hope Hicks. "And an unparalleled ability to communicate with people ... has built great relationships throughout his life and treats everyone with respect. He is brilliant with a great sense of humour." Hope Hicks is Trump's communications director.


Overall then, President Trump and Leader Un have much in common. But in two matters they differ radically. First, Un distrusts his family. He has had an uncle executed and a half brother assassinated. Whereas Trump, in common with despots such as Gaddafi and Saddam, trusts his family above all others and installs them, unelected and unqualified, into high office.


And second, for all his status as a murderous pariah, Leader Un has recognised that climate change is a threat to everyone and has ratified the Paris Accord.



Joe Bennet is formerly of the UK and now one of NZ's most witty. Article from Stuff.co.nz.

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