It’s also worth remembering that when it comes to North Korea, nukes are hardly the only danger. Even if Pyongyang relinquished its entire nuclear arsenal, it would still possess a large stockpile of chemical and biological weapons, and could decimate Seoul, South Korea’s capital, with its conventional weaponry. The real problem is not North Korea’s nuclear arms, but its potential willingness to use them, along with the rest of its weapons, in a way that harms U.S. interests.
A Trump-Kim summit, then, is probably the least bad way to reduce Pyongyang’s desire to harm the United States. By legitimizing Kim through a meeting, Trump could convince him that the United States does not pose an existential threat to his regime. (Washington has a long and rich history of legitimizing awful dictators, from Josef Stalin to Mobutu Sese Seko, when it’s in America’s national interests.) A summit would increase trust between the two nations: Americans could temper their view of North Korea as a nation of brainwashed automatons run by a cartoonishly cruel dictator, and North Koreans could see that Americans don’t crave their destruction.