NBC Obama Flack Refuses to Credit Trump for North Korea Talks

Despite previously warning that President Trump’s tough stance on North Korea could lead to war, on Friday’s Today show, NBC National Security Analyst and former Obama administration official Jeremy Bash refused to credit Trump for agreeing to peace negotiations with Kim Jong-un. Instead, Bash claimed that the President had allowed himself to “boxed in” by the dictator, and had given up a “huge concession.”    

Co-host Savannah Guthrie began the segment by teeing him up to slam the potential diplomatic breakthrough: “I read it was a ‘breathtaking gamble,’ according to one report. Do you agree?” Bash was quick to slam the proposed talks:

 

 

I do. It is a roll of the nuclear dice. In some ways, the President kind of got boxed in here, he couldn’t say no to this invitation. And the risk, here, Savannah, is that he elevates Kim Jong-un, puts him on a stage next to him, which is a huge concession, basically elevating the dictator without the dictator having to do really anything, he doesn’t give up his nuclear program at all.

It’s beyond ironic that someone who worked for an administrations that gave major concessions to authoritarian regimes in Iran and Cuba with little in return would make such judgments.

Skipping over Bash’s hypocrisy, Guthrie attempted to describe Trump’s approach to North Korea as a success: “On the flip side, the White House says this is Mr. Trump’s diplomacy at work. The hardline rhetoric, calling him ‘Little rocket man,’ essentially threatening nuclear war. Perhaps is it this hardline rhetoric and the tough sanctions that got Kim Jong-un to the table?”

Bash immediately rejected the notion: “Well, there have been elements of American policy like the tougher sanctions that I think undoubtedly drove this moment, but the threats, the taunts, the tweets, it’s also possible that that actually accelerated Kim Jong-un’s drive to obtain nuclear missile programs, it alienated South Korea, and actually made the situation a lot more dangerous.”

On the morning show two months ago, January 3, Guthrie similarly asked Bash if Trump’s rhetoric against the brutal regime was part of a diplomatic “strategy”:

Let’s say this is all part of strategy by the President. You know, earlier in the – last year he talked about unleashing fire and fury, the likes of which the world has never seen.” Now this about the nuclear button. If this is strategy to deter Kim Jong-un, is it working?  

Bash responded at the time:

I don’t think so. Because in the last six months, Savannah, you’ve seen Kim Jong-un engage in five highly provocative actions. He’s flight tested, twice, an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit the United States with its range. He’s done an underground test of a two-stage thermo-nuclear hydrogen bomb. And he’s twice overflown our ally, Japan. So if this is a strategy, Savannah, I think it has backfired.

Earlier in that exchange, the analyst feared that Trump’s latest tweet criticizing Kim Jong-un could lead to war: “...these juvenile and immature and destabilizing tweets kind of suggest that, than Kim Jong-un is far more likely to lash out, to attack South Korea, to attack Japan, to use his chemical weapons, maybe even to fire a missile at our base in Guam....this is a tweet that could lead to confrontation and maybe even war.”

When the President took a hard line against the dictator, Bash called it “destabilizing,” when the President announced on Thursday that he was willing to sit down with the North Korean leader, Bash derided it as a “huge concession.” In his eyes, Trump can’t win.

Even when journalists on CNN and MSNBC praised the President for the move Thursday night, the line-up of Obama administration officials on both networks were in meltdown mode and, like Bash, refused to give Trump any credit.

Here is a full transcript of Bash’s March 9 exchange with Guthrie:

7:05 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Let’s turn to NBC’s National Security Analyst Jeremy Bash. Jeremy, good morning.

JEREMY BASH: Good morning, Savannah.

GUTHRIE: We just heard no American president has ever done this, sat down with a North Korean leader. I read it was a “breathtaking gamble,” according to one report. Do you agree?

BASH: I do. It is a roll of the nuclear dice. In some ways, the President kind of got boxed in here, he couldn’t say no to this invitation. And the risk, here, Savannah, is that he elevates Kim Jong-un, puts him on a stage next to him, which is a huge concession, basically elevating the dictator without the dictator having to do really anything, he doesn’t give up his nuclear program at all.

GUTHRIE: On the flip side, the White House says this is Mr. Trump’s diplomacy at work. The hardline rhetoric, calling him “Little rocket man,” essentially threatening nuclear war. Perhaps is it this hardline rhetoric and the tough sanctions that got Kim Jong-un to the table?

BASH: Well, there have been elements of American policy like the tougher sanctions that I think undoubtedly drove this moment, but the threats, the taunts, the tweets, it’s also possible that that actually accelerated Kim Jong-un’s drive to obtain nuclear missile programs, it alienated South Korea, and actually made the situation a lot more dangerous.

GUTHRIE: You mention one thing that Kim Jong-un badly wants, and that’s legitimacy. He wants to sit across the table from the President of the United States and say, “Hey, I’m a global leader just like you.” This notion that he is ready to talk about denuclearization, giving up his nukes, is that reality or should that be treated with skepticism?

BASH: I would be very skeptical that the North Koreans are gonna be prepared to do that. They also want American troops off the Korean peninsula. This is gonna be a very dicey and difficult negotiation.

GUTHRIE: Jeremy Bash on the big news on the global stage. Thank you so much, appreciate it.


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