June 13, 2018
The world's biggest meeting in decades is a wrap, but the analysis is ongoing. What are people saying about the first president to sit down with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un? Plenty.
While several people don't know what to make about the specifics of the agreement the two men signed, there is one growing consensus -- simply having a face-to-face conversation was a victory for everyone. In successfully arranging this summit, Donald Trump accomplished more with North Korea in one day than any president has in 40 years. On today's "Washington Watch," Senator Lindsey Graham sat down to talk with me about his take on the historic event and what it could mean -- not just for relations with Kim Jong Un, but our dialogue with other tyrannical foes.
"To those who think you can contain North Korea, you're making a mistake. President Trump made a decision early on in his presidency that I'm not going to live under the threat of a nuclear attack from North Korea. I'm not going to allow this man to have a bunch of nuclear weapons and a bunch of missiles -- because he'll sell or give them away. I'm going to bring this program to an end, and I'd like to do it through a peaceful resolution that's a win-win. To those who want containment, you don't understand the proliferation problem, so I applaud the president for reaching out to North Korea... And time will tell if this works."
In the meantime, Senator Graham has a suggestion for his friends across the aisle: do your part. "If we don't convince North Korea and China that the military option is real, we'll never get a good deal." That's why he believes that the next act of Congress should be authorizing the president to go to war -- if, and it's a big "if," diplomacy fails. While minority leaders continue to hammer away at the president, sending letters about how he should handle the situation, Graham says the best thing they could do is communicate that the president has the backing of Congress. "Let [other countries] know that we're serious about going to war to end the proliferation of nuclear weapons." It would help, he went on, if Congress spoke with one voice.
"The Iranians are watching. And if we blink in North Korea, Iran is going to march toward a nuclear weapon because they don't believe we're serious. If Trump can have a breakthrough with North Korea, end their nuclear weapons program peacefully... then you've got Iran in a box. Donald Trump is playing this very, very well. To my Democratic friends: I know you hate him. We've got a lot to disagree on. But help him on North Korea. It will help you politically, and it will help the world as a whole."
Of course, one of our greatest hopes is that this meeting also pierces the North Korean conscience on issues like human rights and religious liberty, which Kim Jong Un has notoriously abused. So it was no small coincidence that yesterday was also the inaugural meeting of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, where I now serve as a commissioner.
The sobering reality is that religious persecution is at historic levels around the globe. While our First Freedom has faced increasing assaults in recent years, the oppression that many face in various parts of the world is horrifying. Religious minorities of every faith are being denied the most basic of human rights, the freedom to believe and live according to those beliefs. But while the magnitude of the situation is sobering, the significance of the opportunity we currently have because of the commitment to protect and promote religious freedom by the Trump administration is inspiring.
I want to invite each of you to join me in seizing this moment in advancing true religious freedom for all people in all parts of the world. I'll be sharing more in the days ahead how you can be a part of the effort by praying for and advocating for prisoners of conscience. And please pray for the commission. It is a bipartisan commission currently comprised of five commissioners appointed by Republicans and two named by Democrats. There will be two more commissioners appointed, one by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and one by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). It was the stated goal yesterday of the seven current commissioners to rise above partisanship for the greater good of religious freedom. As evidence of that commitment, the commissioners unanimously selected Democrat appointee Dr. Tenzin Dorjee, one of just two returning members to the commission, as chairman.
Please join me in praying for all the members of the Commission: Chair Dorjee, Kristina Arriaga, Gary Bauer, Nadine Maenza, Gayle Manchin, Johnnie Moore, and myself.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.