Meeting on the Island of Death From Behind: The Kim-Trump Summit

Everything about this summit is in the showy warm-up run.  “I am on my way to Singapore,” tweets US President Donald J. Trump, “where we have a chance to achieve a truly wonderful result for North Korea and the World.”  Such descriptions from America’s ever hustling television president tend to become child like, whether glowingly or indignantly. On this occasion, he was glowing.  “It will be certainly an exciting day and I know that Kim Jong-un will work very hard to do something that has rarely been done before”.

Detractors and sceptics were fretting in the woodwork.  Former US Representative from Florida David Jolly was one: “Under scrutiny from loyal allies, Trump chooses to strengthen his alliance with Putin and Kim Jong Un.”  The slip into psychobabble becomes easy: “Notwithstanding geopolitical consequences, it demonstrates a grown man unable to hold his own among peers, so instead seek affirmation among adversaries willing to provide it.”

Holding the summit on Sentosa Island suggested a deliciously disturbing twist. Now a resort destination drawing some 20 million visitors a year dotted by theme parks, beaches and Singaporean state propaganda, it had been known as Pulau Belakang Mati, “island of death from behind.”  During the Second World War, summary executions of members of the Singaporean Chinese population were common on the island, as were instances of brutality towards British and Australian servicemen after their…

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