Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Maduro Looks Longingly at the Trump-Kim Summit

I was talking to someone about why Nicolás Maduro was letting political prisoners out and especially Joshua Holt. My basic and not particularly original answer was that he trying to make some sort of gesture to ease pressure and open the door to dialogue (of whatever sort, if only to gain time).

But after seeing the spectacle of Donald Trump meeting Kim Jong-un, I realized I was missing what was in front of my eyes all along. Trump's foreign policy consists in large part of alienating allies and embracing--even bromancing--adversaries. He famously loves Vladimir Putin and now he loves Kim too (he loves his country!). With them, he openly gives concessions without getting anything concrete in return. This summit was pure gold for an isolated Kim.

So Maduro, who also feels isolated, much wonder: how do I get Trump's love? And indeed, why shouldn't he think that way? Kim sets the standard for being a horrible human being who terrorizes his own population, and Trump loves him. Trump excoriates Maduro and calls him a threat. How is that fair?

So maybe Maduro is thinking that if he gives a little with some releases, just like Kim did, he can be bros with Trump too. Maybe even be invited to the White House. Kim has Dennis Rodman as celebrity go-between, and Maduro can use Danny Glover.

I am authoritarian, I am screwing up my country, and my government is responsible serious human rights abuses, so why don't you love me too?


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