Christie: OK, you try measuring expectations for the Trump-Kim summit

President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un of North Korea during a document signing ceremony on Sentosa Island in Singapore, June 12, 2018. The two leaders signed what Trump called a “comprehensive document.” Trump indicated that a process of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula could begin “very quickly. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

UPDATE: President Trump and Chairman Kim signed an agreement to move toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula some time in the next “3-15 years.” Something the North Koreans have agreed to before, by the way. Details are sparse, but Trump apparently wants to stop U.S.-South Korea training exercises — or “war games” — as a precursor to removing U.S. troops altogether. Also, future meetings could be held in Pyongyang and the White House. Bottom line: The only thing historic about this summit right now is a big photo op between a U.S. president and a brutal North Korean dictator.

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By the time you read this Tuesday morning, the long-awaited, much-hyped summit between President Donald J. Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has come and gone.

The days of pomp and circumstance that led up to the hours-long meeting of East and West, socialism and capitalism, ego and ego-prime, young and old, basketball and golf is over. There’s nothing left but the Twitter storm to follow.

Well, actually there was to be a 4 a.m. (ET) news conference on Tuesday with Trump, sans Kim.

Kim is on his way back to Pyongyang; and later to Russia to meet with President and fellow dictator Vladimir Putin, who also happens to be a favorite of Trump. We can speculate that Putin, in fact, could serve as the future facilitator of a summit between Trump and Kim — a la President Jimmy Carter with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Although that didn’t turn out too well in the end for Sadat.

SINGAPORE — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un walks along the Jubillee bridge during a tour of some of the sights on June ahead of his summit meeting with U.S. President Donald J. Trump in Singapore. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

As of 7 a.m. Tuesday (ET), Trump is already on his way back to the U.S. aboard Air Force One. The schedule, as of Monday night, has him back at the White House by 8 a.m. Wednesday.

By the time the meeting arrived Monday night (9 p.m. ET), the expectations for the historic face-to-face had already been set so low it is hard to gauge what would likely happen.

Even NBA great and Kim BFF Dennis Rodman was talking down expectations.

“People should not expect so much for the first time,” Rodman said as he emerged from the baggage claim area at Changi airport around midnight Monday. “Hopefully, the doors will open.”

He told reporters he wasn’t sure if he would meet Kim in Singapore.

http://kutv.com/news/nation-world/former-nba-star-rodman-arrives-in-singapore

White House officials have said Rodman will play no official role in the diplomatic negotiations. Trump said last week that Rodman had not been invited to the summit.

We’re kind of left to wonder then whatever happened to the lofty goals of set for this “historic” summit months ago when it was first mentioned.

SINGAPORE — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo answers questions at a press briefing on Monday. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been saying as late as Sunday that President Trump’s goal is nothing short of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

But try to find one Korea expert that would give that even a remote possibility from this summit. Most said that Kim won’t even entertain talk of such a thing unless the U.S. and other nuclear-powered nations do the same. (Yeah, like that’ll happen.)

Ending the Korean War — basically a paperwork issue — by signing a formal peace treaty was also out there as a major goal. Kim would basically have to do what former North Koreaan president Syngman Rhee wouldn’t do 65 years ago, which is join the U.S. and South Korea and sign the armistice agreement officially ending hostilities.

Of course, it’s not that simple.

The 1953 agreement calls for all sides to hold a political conference “to settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea (and) the peaceful settlement of the Korean question.”

That summit, the Geneva Conference of 1954, ended in spectacular failure. Not only did it not produce a peace treaty ending the Korean War, but negotiations over France’s withdrawal from its colonies in Indochina set the stage for the Vietnam War.

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It still could happen. But since China and the U.S. were both major combatants on both sides of the war, both would need to be there for an official ending. (Right, there’s no China in Singapore.)

Take our poll, and tell us what you would be happy with coming out of the Trump-Kim summit.

Goodman: Syrian gas attack: Should Trump order U.S. strike against Assad regime?

This image released early Sunday by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, shows a child receiving oxygen through respirators following an alleged poison gas attack in the rebel-held town of Douma, near Damascus, Syria. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)

The pictures from Syria are horrific.

President Trump, denouncing as a “barbaric act” the suspected poison gas killing of more than 49 people in a city held by the Syrian opposition, said Monday he will decide within 24 to 48 hours whether the U.S. will respond militarily.

“We’re talking about humanity and it can’t be allowed to happen,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “We’ll be making that decision very quickly, probably by the end of today. We cannot allow atrocities like that.”

The president suggested that Syria’s patrons in Russia and Iran may also be responsible, and seemed to imply that he would take action of some sort to punish them as well.

“If it’s Russia, if it’s Syria, if it’s Iran, if it’s all of them together, we’ll figure it out and we’ll know the answers quite soon,” he said. “So we’re looking at that very strongly and very seriously.” (New York Times)

Just days ago, Trump said he wanted U.S. troops to withdraw from Syria. But after the Saturday night attack on rebel-held Douma, White House officials said a missile strike is a possibility. After a similar chemical attack a year ago, Trump responded by attacking a Syrian air base with cruise missiles.

What do you think the U.S. should do?

Christie: Is America losing its standing in the world under Trump?

President Donald Trump’s “America First” strategy is seen as a sign of strength by some and making the U.S. weaker on the world stage by others. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Depending on your “point of view” the United States has either re-asserted its dominance on the world stage or confirmed its conspicuous exit.

To be sure, conservatives would argue the former saying that President Donald J. Trump’s tough talk and “America First” strategy leaves no doubt that American interests are what matters most when it comes to foreign policy. But liberals argue that such a self-centered mindset in an increasingly inter-connected world leaves us not only vulnerable, but looking kind of foolish.

At least, the latter was the gist of the reader Point of View in today’s Palm Beach Post:

Do we realize or care that as the world becomes increasingly one global interdependent economy, America’s marginalization will not only threaten our safety but our partnerships? Americans will feel more isolated and more paranoid, but continue to create more detachment and segmentation amongst us that will harm and change these United States irreparably?” ask Burton and Barbara Halpert of West Palm Beach.

Well, that’s a pretty hard line. It’s also indicative of a philosophical split within the Republican Party, according to an October Pew Research poll. (BTW, the same polled also revealed a similar split within the Democratic Party.)

“On questions of the U.S. role in the world, the country-first group is obvious. Three-quarters consider immigrants to be a burden to society; only 4 in 10 think that involvement in the global economy is good. About two-thirds think that openness to the rest of the world puts America’s identity at risk and believe that we should focus more on America’s problems.”

President Trump obviously plays to this crowd as America will no longer allow other nations to dis us while they are taking our money… Take that United Nations! Take that Pakistan! Take that Palestinians!

But does this present an image to the world of a divided America that is closing itself off?

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks in favor of a resolution at United Nations headquarters. The U.S. government last month negotiated a significant cut in the United Nations budget. Haley said that the “inefficiency and overspending” of the organization is well-known, and she would not let “the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of.” (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

POINT OF VIEW: U.S. is losing its standing in the world

In 2017, America saw the loss of nearly everything we have gained since the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. That is, how we and the rest of the world view how America approaches democracy, inclusion, humanity, and a place where morality, principals and ethics are not only embraced but openly debated.

Our current “leadership” has encouraged divisiveness not seen in this country in many decades. There is so much friction and hatred that friends who do not see eye-to-eye politically may not be able to salvage relationships. Families are urged not to discuss politics at gatherings so as not to create irreparable upheavals.

In the old days, contentious ideas were encouraged to nourish and build upon the foundations of which our country was established — morality, respect for those who are different from us and celebration for how a united country could contain such disparities with grace, dignity. There was an insistence that our elected officials try to promulgate these ideals.

Donald Trump was elected because he was seen as a political outlier and, indeed, he has proven to be so. His attraction for many who voted for him is that he will shake up Washington, and that he is like the common man. Well, he has shaken up Washington and the common man (and woman) will be paying for it for many years to come in terms of loss of health care options, short-term financial gains which after 2025 drastically cost the middle class, and making the wealthiest companies and individual much more so. Is Trump really like the common man who voted for him?

Our country has lost the respect of the world as we lose credibility with allies and foes alike. We are becoming increasingly destabilized in a global world because our leadership has no education of history, and therefore cannot utilize critical strategies to make our country safer without insulting other cultures. The bravado our president spouts about our country being stronger than ever before is “fake news.” Foreign news reporters say their jobs put them more in peril now then ever before because other countries are so hostile towards the United States. Is this what we sought when we elected Trump? Do we realize or care that as the world becomes increasingly one global interdependent economy, America’s marginalization will not only threaten our safety but our partnerships? Americans will feel more isolated and more paranoid, but continue to create more detachment and segmentation amongst us that will harm and change these United States irreparably?

Our leadership uses masterful manipulation to claim that we are victims. Trump models how not to be a victim by shouting, insulting, bullying and keeping a stable of lawyers employed to fight the multitudes of lawsuits that have been waged against him. And all the while doing so with billions of dollars in the bank. Is this really a role model that we can all identify with?

America needs to wake up and realize that gross mistakes have been made; and that it is OK to admit to mistakes because only then can we try and rectify them. Our country is the laughingstock of the world. And if you feel this is what is making America great again, then we can sink only further into the abyss.

May God bless and save the United States of America.

BURTON AND BARBARA HALPERT, WEST PALM BEACH

Christie: No easy answer for fate of undocumented Palm Beach restaurant manager

In this undated photograph Francisco Javier Gonzalez, manager of Pizza Al Fresco, with his wife Tara Gonzalez, and daughter Aviana, left, Bianca, center, and Karina, right. (Photo curtesy Gonzalez family)

The question of what should be the fate of Francisco Javier Gonzalez has made its way onto the Post’s Opinion pages.

In today’s Letters to the Editor, two local readers weigh in. But first a little background:

Gonzalez, the manager of the Pizza Al Fresco restaurant on Palm Beach’s trendy Worth Avenue, is facing the risk of deportation under President Donald Trump’s new immigration policy.

Gonzalez, who before this had routine annual check-ins, got a three-month reprieve Thursday night. He was scheduled to check in at 10 a.m. today with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in Broward County. During a routine check-in earlier this year, Gonzalez was told he would have to return to the Broward County ICE office in three months for another check-in, at which point he could face deportation.

RELATED: Restaurant manager facing deportation gets 3-month repreieve

Because of where the married father of three little girls works, Gonzalez’s case has garnered a great deal of attention from some high-powered folks.

In fact, an online petition had more than 6,100 signatures on Thursday — including some of Palm Beach’s most elite socialites.

But Gonzalez’s case is a little complicated. According to the Post’s Jennifer Sorentrue, “he came to the U.S. to live with his brother when he was 15 years old using what he thought was a valid visa. After high school, he returned to Mexico to visit family members. When he came back to the U.S., he was told at the airport that his visa was not valid. He was deported and ordered not to return for a 5-year-period. Gonzalez didn’t wait. He crossed the border illegally”

And so here we are.

And here are the two letters appearing in today’s editions of the Post:

Undocumented man should have sought legal ways to become a citizen

Oh, how sad, an undocumented, nice person is in danger of deportation. Your front page story, “Palm Beach restaurant manager could face deportation next week,” (July 8), might raise sympathy if you had asked, “Why hasn’t this person become a U.S. citizen after all these years?” There are legal avenues which might have been followed, including marriage to a legal U.S. citizen, as a start. What did Gonzalez do in 21 years other than riding his bike to avoid being caught?

TED TASK, WEST PALM BEACH

Deporting worker, tearing apart his family is wrong thing to do

I am responding to the recent stories about the possible deportation of Javier Gonzalez.

I often hear my fellow conservative friends tout the quote: “If you’re not a liberal when you’re young you have no heart, and if you’re not a conservative when you’re old, you have no brain.” This story about possibly deporting Gonzalez, a productive man married to an American citizen with three young American children is outrageous and, simply, wrong. I challenge people to reflect on the possibility that the heart and the head can work together for the sake of common sense. I don’t think this is what people intended when they voted for a president who said he would get rid us of criminals who are here illegally. Tearing apart established American families is, in a word, “heartless.”

So where do you come down on this sensitive topic?…

Christie: U.S. hypocrisy on human rights shows in Cuba policy ‘tweak’

Nelson Avila, center, joins anti-President Donald Trump protesters, calling for open relations with Cuba on Friday in Miami. Trump thrust the U.S. and Cuba back on a path toward open hostility Friday with a blistering denunciation of the island’s communist government. He clamped down on some commerce and travel but left intact many new avenues President Barack Obama had opened. (Leslie Ovalle/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz… and lest we forget, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

All have been the subject of compliments from President Donald J. Trump during his infant presidency. From their strength in terms of silencing — even through violence — critics to their facility to write billion-dollar checks to the U.S. government, the president has not been shy about lauding these strongmen for their “leadership” in their respective countries.

President Trump has not been as willing to discuss their dark histories — former and current — when it comes to alleged human rights abuses.

That wasn’t the case last week, when the president made the grand announcement to reverse President Barack Obama’s opening of diplomatic relations with communist Cuba.

There, he drew a line of hypocrisy when it comes to what the U.S. will, and will not put up with when it comes to human rights by its partners.

President Donald Trump signs an executive order on a revised Cuba policy aimed at stopping the flow of U.S. cash to the country’s military and security services while maintaining diplomatic relations on Friday in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

“It’s hard to think of a policy that makes less sense than the prior administration’s terrible and misguided deal with the Castro regime,” Trump said.

“The previous administration’s easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people. They only enrich the Cuban regime,” Trump said. “We will work for the day when a new generation of leaders brings this long reign of suffering to an end. And I do believe that end is within the very future.”
Trump said Obama’s policy has helped Cuba’s Castro regime rather than ordinary Cuban citizens. Of course, this is all about helping the Cuban people. Hard to argue against that. And the fact that the U.S.-Cuban thaw begun by Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in 2014 hasn’t noticeably resulted in less human rights abuses — jailing of dissidents, imprisoning political opponents, etc.

A little more impatience about democracy isn’t such a bad thing.

But Trump joined a chorus of Cuban hardliners during his speech on Friday on stage at the Manuel Artime Theater who don’t bother drawing a distinction between our approach to Cuba’s Castro regime versus others of the same ilk.

Truthfully, Trump’s so-called “reversal” of Obama’s policies normalizing of relations with Cuba after 50-plus failed years of isolationism was little more than a “tweak.”

In this file photo, a tour bus along Havana’s Malecon. As President Donald Trump outlined a stricter policy toward Cuba on Friday travel industry representatives scrambled to decode new prohibitions and reassure clients that the island was not off limits. (Daniel Berehulak/The New York Times)

What remains: full diplomatic relations, including an embassy in Havana; reduced immigration favoritism for Cubans, otherwise known as the “wet foot, dry foot” policy; restored commercial flights and cruise-ship visits; enhanced cash remittances and visitation by Cuban Americans; and even removal of Cuba from the list of state terrorism sponsors.

What changes: tightening restrictions on tourist travel to Cuba — technically illegal already — and instituting a broad prohibition on financial transactions with companies significantly controlled by the Communist government’s military holding company.

The rest is mostly rhetoric. Questionable rhetoric that, while it sounds good on a campaign stump, won’t amount to much in terms of helping the Cuban people.

So why bother? Especially given how hypocritical it all sounds when compared to what he administration seems fit to put up with from other de facto dictatorships when it comes to human rights abuses.

Why didn’t we here the same compassion from the Trump administration for the Turkish people who are having their rights trampled on? Would the U.S. be wrong to demand the right to a fair trial for hundreds of alleged drug dealers shot down in the streets in the Philippines? Why didn’t we here the same for the thousands of Egyptians jailed and killed by el-Sisi? And was a $100 billion buy of U.S. military hardware enough to buy our silence on Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women?

Such selective ire makes the righteous indignation from Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Jose Diaz-Balart ring all the more hollow.

Human rights are human rights. You either care about them everywhere, or you don’t care about them at all.

Christie: Other child victims also deserve President Trump’s attention, Post reader says

In this April 4 photo, Abdel Hameed Alyousef, 29, holds his twin babies who were killed during a suspected chemical weapons attack, in Khan Sheikhoun in the northern province of Idlib, Syria. France’s foreign minister says chemical analysis of samples taken from a deadly sarin gas attack in Syria shows that the nerve agent used “bears the signature” of President Bashar Assad’s government and shows it was responsible. (Alaa Alyousef via AP, File)

A few weeks ago President Trump, quickly reacting to 22 children being gassed, ordered a missile attack on a Syrian airfield. Because the use of gas is universally unacceptable, the president generally received bipartisan support for his action. Although the attack was somewhat knee jerk in nature, most people gave him a pass because children were involved.

A week later, 40 children were among the scores of people who died in Beirut while trying to find something to eat. A bomb explosion may not have the same visceral effect as gas, the carnage described in graphic detail. Unless I missed the coverage, there was no reaction from the White House, although, obviously, dead children are dead children, regardless of the cause.

With so many children dying in a relatively short period of time, I wonder whether anyone thought back to the tragic killings of 20 first-grade pupils in Newtown, Conn. One life is certainly as important as another. Yet all that was asked of our Congress was to pass more comprehensive regulations  on the sale of guns. Congress, or at least the Republicans in Congress, either have no conscience or have sold them to the NRA.

According to a Huffington Post article, “There Have Been Over 200 School Shooting Incidents Since The Sandy Hook Massacre,” (Dec. 14) and Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization of more than 3 million mayors, moms, cops, teachers, survivors, gun owners and everyday Americans working to end gun violence, there have been more than 200 school shootings since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, averaging about one shooting per week.

These shootings resulted in approximately 94 gun-related deaths and 156 injuries.

I find it difficult to comprehend why President Trump who campaigned for “America First” chooses as his first aggressive action an attack in Syria, rather than addressing the obvious problems at home. This is only one example of poor judgment our president has exhibited during his first 100 days in office.

BURT EDELCHICK, HOBE SOUND