The big talking point of the day, for both conservatives that are skeptical of the peace process and the Left, is the returned salute from Pres. Trump. Some people are already hard at work spinning it to make it appear as if Pres. Trump initiated the salute and, indeed, when the only image accompanying it is Pres. Trump looking at an N. K. officer while rendering the salute, the deception is complete.
Newly released video footage from North Korean state media shows President Donald Trump returning a salute to a North Korean military general during this week’s summit in Singapore, an extraordinary display of respect from a US president to a top officer of a hostile regime. (CNN)
Note that the released footage from North Korean state media itself shows that President Trump was returning the salute. This is actually a rather important detail because, undoubtedly, one of the ideas cooked up is that the real damage of the salute is that it can be manipulated into something that it is not, e.g., Pres. Trump rendering a salute first and showing a sort of submission as opposed to receiving a submissive gesture from a North Korean officer and simply answering it.
Remember that all North Korean males and a significant amount of N. Korean females all have to serve in the military and would be totally familiar with decorum. It would be impossible for civilians to confuse the meaning of this.
CNN fortunately continued to clarify a few other things:
n the military, returning a salute from a military officer of a friendly foreign nation is common practice for US military officers and considered a display of military professionalism. There is no rule that a US president is obliged to return a salute, which is considered a sign of mutual respect.
This caveat of “friendly” is rather interesting to me as I had been taught that rendering a salute to officers, friend or foe, was customary at any kind of meeting. However, it now appears that Army regulations say that it is necessary to officers of friendly nations, but the same regulation notes that saluting is mandatory on ceremonial occasions (Army Study Guide). Presumably, this sort of meeting would qualify as a very officious and ceremonial affair, and this is a distinction quite different from simply coming across a N. Korean officer on the street (lol) and rendering him a salute without any other context.
It should be also noted that there are occasions where one is expected to explicitly salute enemy soldiers:
Prisoners of war, with the exception of officers, must salute and show to all officers of the Detaining Power the external marks of respect provided for by the regulations applying in their own forces.
Officer prisoners of war are bound to salute only officers of a higher rank of the Detaining Power; they must, however, salute the camp commander regardless of his rank. (Article 39, Geneva Conventions, hosted at UMN.)
Yet… There are people who are acting as if it is highly inappropriate to return the salute of a foreign Officer during discussions pertaining to peace negotiations?
Indeed, imagine having a meeting to arrange a treaty and then decidedly not rendering respect or entertaining mutual honor & decorum.
Of course, I will concede this to the Left who are complaining about this: if Pres. Obama had done the same (while doing what Pres. Trump was doing now), it would have been held over his head for the whole of his Presidency and to this very day. That is utterly undeniable. However, I am not sure why the low standards of your political opponents would justify low standards for oneself.
We should also consider that we are experiencing something already a bit unexpected: Pres. Trump is viewed as a potential warmonger, and is from a party that is stereotyped as warmongers, yet he is pursuing peace, and, while doing so, rendering all sorts of honors and treating everyone with dignity and respect.
The reason for the outrage is not actually a real objection to the things being done but comes from deep seated hatred for the President as a person and potentially conservatism in general.
And, perhaps an even more interesting talking point, and one that has a wide variety of applications, the willingness to accept that Pres. Trump is doing this for conservatives is also coming from a sort of base love for their ‘own guy,’ so to speak.
Ultimately, Pres. Trump did the right thing for the circumstances. Whether or not the negotiations will bear real fruit and CVID will actually occur is a completely different story, and people’s skepticism towards this is entirely justified. However, to be angry about participating in the basic rendering of respect between persons in a formal setting would be no different than demanding that nobody ever shakes hands at negotiations between parties with bad blood.