Scads of analysts and pundits have weighed in on the Trump-Kim summit talks in Singapore, parsing the brief agreement and presidential tweets for signs of just how strongly it actually commits North Korea to total, verifiable “denuclearization.”
Most of them are missing the point. The real threat to U.S., Korean, and Japanese security of late has come not from North Korean nukes, but from threats by President Donald Trump and his closest advisers to launch a regional war to preempt any further North Korean progress on warhead and missile technology. Some experts were giving even odds of a U.S.-initiated war as recently as a few months ago.
So even if the spectacle in Singapore was more theater than substance, even if the president’s effusive praise for a totalitarian leader was hard to swallow, we should applaud Trump for belatedly making good on his 2016 campaign promise to sit down with Kim Jong-un over a hamburger in search of peace.
Throughout most of 2017, the Trump administration instead issued a steady stream of pronouncements warning that it was ready to go to war to stop Pyongyang from perfecting long-range missiles capable of hitting the United States with nuclear weapons.
“Our president has been really clear about this,” said then National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster. “He is willing to do anything necessary to prevent that from happening . . . and so, all of our armed forces are getting to really a high, high degree of readiness for this mission.” U.S.-South Korean war games reportedly included “rehearsals of surgical strikes on North Korea’s main nuclear and missile facilities and ‘decapitation raids’ by special forces targeting the North’s leadership.”
Trump himself warned last summer that he would meet any further North Korean nuclear…