The NK News website, to which I contribute articles, carried a news headline on May 31st which one would think would give pause to even the staunchest Trump supporter: “North Korean editorial supports Donald Trump.” (https://www.nknews.org/2016/05/north-korean-editorial-supports-donald-trump/) Yes, the man who killed his own uncle, who regularly tortures and executes his own people, who has threatened to nuke America, and who has unleashed editorials calling our President “a monkey” and the President of our South Korean ally ” a crafty prostitute” — sharing a flare with Mr. Trump for misogynistic labeling — (http://www.weeklystandard.com/north-koreas-hateful-rants-continue-to-get-a-pass/article/791214) thinks Trump would make a fine leader of the Free World. The editorial appeared in DPRK Today which, like everything in North Korea, is an echo chamber for the latest thoughts of the Supreme Leader. It praised the presumptive Republican nominee as a “wise politician” and “far-sighted presidential candidate.”
Kim Jong Un’s bromance with Donald Trump appears to have a lot to do with the fact that Trump’s off-the-cuff Northeast Asia policy statements oddly coincide with much of North Korea’s own vision for the future of the Korean peninsula. I pointed this out a few months ago in an article I wrote for NK News (https://www.nknews.org/2016/04/donald-trump-echoes-kim-jong-uns-vision-for-korea/) so I won’t go into detail here. The North Korean editorial, in any event, concisely summarizes this Trump/Kim Jong Un meeting of minds by noting Trump’s public calls to withdraw U.S. forces from South Korea if Seoul does not pay more for defense costs. The editorial goes on to say: “Yes, do it (withdraw troops) now …Who knew that the slogan ‘Yankee Go Home’ would come true like this? The day that the ‘Yankee Go Home’ slogan becomes real would be the day of Korean Unification.” On Pyongyang’s terms of course. Republican candidates in swing states like Virginia with sizable Korean-American populations should take note that their party’s standard bearer is being praised by Pyongyang for apparently agreeing to sell out the South Korean ancestral homeland of these very voters. (http://www.weeklystandard.com/trump-would-have-trouble-in-the-general-election-in-virginia/article/2001563)
And to make certain there was no misunderstanding, the Pyongyang mouth piece even went so far as to tell American citizens for whom to vote, in apparent violation of Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai’s famous dictum (Bandung 1955) against interfering in the internal affairs of another country: “The president that U.S. citizens must vote for is not that dull Hillary — who claimed to adapt the Iranian model to resolve nuclear issues on the Korean peninsula — but Trump, who spoke of holding direct conversation with North Korea.” Better opposition research by Pyongyang would seem to be required here. As Mr. Trump appears to adhere to the school of thought that “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” North Korea’s researchers should be aware that only a few months ago he was expressing just the opposite view of how to handle the Kim Jong Un problem. In fact, instead of suggesting a willingness to sit down and talk with Kim, he was advocating that the best solution might be to get the Chinese to make him “disappear,” calling Kim a “bad dude” dictator, according to a February 11th report in the Daily Mail. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3442302/Donald-Trump-vows-make-North-Korean-leader-Kim-Jong-disappear-says-bad-dude-dictator-face-fate-worse-assassination.html)
The news of Pyongyang’s editorial endorsement of Donald Trump broke when I was in Rome at the end of last month for a college reunion. That is how Il Duce, Benito Mussolini, becomes a part of the story. Loyola University of Chicago’s Rome Center offered mini-courses for returning alumni and one course, which I took, was titled “Mussolini’s Rome.” Taught by modern Italian history professor Anne Wingenter, it made me realize just how much Mussolini had in common with the “odd couple” of Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump. Slides presented as part of the lecture showed how Mussolini was very big on grandiose architecture with towering structures intended to project an image of the “Second Roman Empire.” The EUR district of Rome, where Mussolini originally intended to celebrate twenty years of fascism with a 1942 world’s fair (the war came along), is one example. Mussolini’s orders for the construction of Via della Conciliazione (Road of the Conciliation) connecting Saint Peter’s Square to the heart of Rome, after the signing of the Lateran Treaty with the Vatican in 1929, is another. Donald Trump, with his towering Trump Towers and his mantra “to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it” is very much in the Mussolini tradition of big building projects. Also both men made use of eminent domain in seeking to carry out their grandiose architectural projects — Mussolini, by displacing many of the working class of the Borgo district to pave the way for Via della Conciliazione, and Mr. Trump, by seeking to use eminent domain in an attempt to oust widow Vera Coking from her Atlantic City home in order to build a parking lot for a casino. Kim Jong Un, in North Korea, under the the juche philosophy of a propertyless society, has no need of any legal justification for his own grandiose architectural projects, including constructing a ski resort and a dolphin aquarium.
The trio also have in common a propensity for large rallies in which overly enthusiatic supporters shout accolades and slogans in support of their chosen leader. And there is the matter of a racial tinge being manifest in some of their underlying philosophies. Professor Wingenter pointed out that there is still debate in Italy over whether the Italian version of fascism included a specific anti-semetic sentiment before the Italian fascists were pressured by the Nazis to publish the Manifesto of Race in 1938 followed by the Italian Racial Laws. However, the diaries kept by Benito Mussolini’s ill-fated mistress, Claretta Petacci, indicated that he was a fierce anti-Semite who had vowed to “destroy” all Jews. (http://www.nbcnews.com/id/33973018/ns/world_news-europe/t/lovers-diary-mussolini-wanted-destroy-jews/#.V2GbR8vmrMM9) The racial purity philosophical foundation of the Kim family regime is fully documented in Brian Reynolds Myers’ 2010 book: The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters (https://www.amazon.com/Cleanest-Race-Koreans-Themselves-Matters/dp/1935554344). And Donald Trump’s statement on Mexicans from June of 2015 is widely known: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/06/16/trump_mexico_not_sending_us_their_best_criminals_drug_dealers_and_rapists_are_crossing_border.html)
Another matter of concern is that both Kim Jong Un and Mussolini represent sworn enemies of the United States. In one case, you have the Kim Jong Un government’s editorial board publicly endorsing Mr. Trump’s presidential candidacy. And in the second you have Mr. Trump quoting enthusiastically from a fascist leader against whom the United States waged a world war. In February Mr. Trump retweeted the famous quote from Mussolini that “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.” When questioned by NBC reporter Chuck Todd as to why he was quoting a known fascist, Trump replied “it’s a very good quote.” (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/02/28/trump_defends_retweeting_mussolini_quote_it_got_your_attention_didnt_it.html)
While most of the World War II “Greatest Generation,” who witnessed the fight against Mussolini and fascism, are now deceased a few, like my mother, are still alive. Being 95 she no longer pays much attention to political news but Trump’s Mussolini quote caught her attention. You see her then fiance, my father, fought with the 88th Infantry Division in the liberation of Rome on June 4-5, 1944. Hearing the news that Donald Trump was quoting Benito Mussolini, Rita Foley Halpin said with disgust “What’s wrong with that guy? Doesn’t he know that we were fighting Mussolini?” I guess that, fortunately for Mr. Trump, few Americans now remember that.