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The Madera Tribune

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Modern diplomacy: Form and substance

March 17, 2018

Korean Peninsula, Demilitarized Zone (DMZ): Crews from both North and South Korea worked furiously to complete the construction of a modern mini-city, kind of a movie-set portrayal of two luxury hotels, a conventional hall, and several restaurants. The buildings, mostly façades, are connected by wide boulevards that have been paved over the trenches and dirt roads that previously scratched the bleak terrain.


North Korean cheerleaders, fresh from the Olympic games, rehearsed in the “city square” that fronts the new multiplex theater and the Dennis Rodman Basketball Pavilion. Marching bands, jugglers, and unicycle riders practiced in the parking lots that dot the area. A North Korean firefighting unit fine-tuned elaborate pyrotechnic displays. The United States Corps of Engineers from Camp Humphreys set up a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (M*A*S*H) for any accidents that might occur. A calliope played as 20 clowns went through their routine with an old Volkswagen Beetle sedan parked over a manhole cover. Overall, a Rio-type “Carnival” atmosphere prevailed.


DMZ Boulevard, North: A convoy of about a dozen 1981 Lincoln Town Cars entered the new model city, the first one stopping at the red limit line. The rest parked in a queue behind the lead vehicle. Drivers turned off their engines, and security officers from each car got out and took up defensive positions. Otherwise, nothing in the area moved.


DMZ Boulevard, South: A few minutes later, at least two dozen specially-built Hyundai limousines rolled into the area, the first stopping at the blue limit line. Members of the Secret Service scrambled into position. Unit leaders spoke into lapel microphones, and team members responded from their various locations.


Crews that had been putting finishing touches on the props cleared the set, while reporters, videographers, and film crews from around the world swarmed in with their note pads and equipment. The next few minutes, as well as the hours and possibly days that followed, would be historic.

The world watched


At a signal, undetected by any observers, the heads of state exited their vehicles. On the northern side, a squat man, sporting an exaggerated crew cut without sideburns, crossed the red line and stood with his toes touching a dotted purple line. He wore the military uniform of Supreme Leader, replete with rows of gold medals and campaign ribbons.


A loud speaker announced that the man is the Beloved Chairman of the Communist Workers Party of North Korea, author of 1,500 books during his three years as a student at Kim Il-sung University, composer of six full operas, “all of which are better than any in the history of music,” and the world’s greatest golfer, who — on his first attempt on the links in 1994 — shot a 38-under-par round, including 11 holes-in-one, on North Korea’s National Golf Course.


Across from him, the leader of the Free World squeezed out of his limo, advanced forward, and stopped with his toes touching a dotted orange line. The voice on the loud speaker changed to that of Kellyanne Conway who proclaimed the arrival of the President of the United States of America, winner of the popular vote in the 2016 U.S. elections, host of the greatest inaugural in the history of the United States, author of “The Art of the Deal” (which recently surpassed the sale of “The Adventures of Don Quixote” as the best-selling book of all time), the driving force behind the return of steel and aluminum production in his country, and the promoter of “beautiful, clean coal.”


Mr. Trump wore Army-issue battle fatigues with six stars on each shoulder, indicating that he was President General of All Military Forces, a rank that he created by executive order the night before the meeting.

The world listened


A special-edition Kia made its way between the two limit lines and stopped several feet before reaching the national leaders. South Korea’s President Moon and two interpreters got out and advanced to a spot directly between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump. Mr. Moon explained that one interpreter would translate from English to Korean for Mr. Kim and the other would translate from Korean to English for Mr. Trump. Both parties to the meeting nodded their approval.


Mr. Trump opened the conversation with, “All things considered, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.” The translator informed Mr. Kim, “The U.S. President humbly appreciates this opportunity to meet face-to-face with the exalted leader of the freedom-loving people of North Korea.”


Mr. Kim responded, “Tell the fat oaf who is idling in his dotage that I demand all sanctions against my regime be dropped immediately before we discuss his notion of denuclearization.” His translator assured Mr. Trump that “Mr. Kim is delighted that this long-sought meeting can take place under such amicable circumstances because of the good spirit and benevolence of a great leader like Mr. Trump.”


Mr. Trump nodded his head and commented, “I’m glad that Lil’ Rocket Man sees things my way. Tell him that if he doesn’t quit shooting his missiles off all over the place, I’m gonna show him what a real nuclear football can do.” The interpreter informed Mr. Kim, “The president has every confidence that this historic coming together of two great minds can resolve all of the issues that have caused turmoil between our two great countries. And, he is pleased to see that Mr. Kim is in the best of health.”


“Cool,” said Mr. Kim. “Tell the hunk of lard that if he’s a healthy 239 pounds, I’m a 98-pound ballerina. Now, let’s skip this nonsense and get down to negotiations. Have him gather up his goon-squad of advisors and meet me and my team at center court in our basketball gym.”

MSNBC News


“The two leaders are meeting with their teams now in preparation for the most important talks of our times. It is encouraging that Mr. Kim has extended the hand of friendship to our president.”

Fox and Friends


“President Trump warmly greeted the North Korean dictator and complimented him on the professional manner in which these talks will be conducted. No former president could have pulled this off.”


Quebec City, Quebec, Canada: Teresa May, Prime Minister of Great Britain turned off the television set and turned to the Canadian Prime Minister, “What do you think, Justin?” For the first time in his life, Mr. Trudeau was speechless.


• • •


Jim Glynn may be contacted at j_glynn@att.net.

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