North Korea and South Korea snooker Trump

Moon and Kim have, for their own reasons, snookered the credulous American president into a high-profile summit that is likely to end in disaster one way or another. Kim is evidently willing to suspend his nuclear and missile tests while the talks are under way, but this is a minimal concession that can easily be reversed. He is most likely willing to do even that much only to buy time for his engineers to finish developing a nuclear warhead that can fit on an ICBM capable of reaching the U.S.

The South Koreans claim that the North Koreans are willing to discuss denuclearization, but the likelihood is that they will only do so on terms that the United States should never accept. Kim may offer to give up his nukes if the U.S. will pull its forces out of South Korea and sign a peace treaty with the North. Trump, if confronted with such a scenario, may imagine it is a big “win” for him, but that’s only because he knows nothing of North Korea and has no one at a senior level in his administration who does. Victor Cha was supposed to be the ambassador to Seoul, but his nomination was withdrawn by White House hardliners, while Joseph Yun, the top State Department envoy to North Korea, just announced his retirement.