Kim Jong Un pulls off a magic trick

It’s almost a magic trick, what Kim has accomplished: He has obtained Trump as a partner in rebranding his poor, brutally autocratic country as a modern condo-resort investment project. He has offered a vague promise to “work toward complete denuclearization” and somehow persuaded Trump to describe the thin, half-page summit communique as a “very comprehensive” agreement.

Perhaps this deal will lead eventually to the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization the president had proclaimed was his goal. But for now, Kim has given up very little militarily, in return for a public embrace from the world’s most powerful nation. Most important, Kim has received, again at minimal cost, a pledge that the United States will halt joint military exercises with South Korea, undercutting the most significant check against his regime…

It was a breathtaking piece of mutual audacity for Kim and Trump to push each other to the edge of the cliff and then walk back. But by Tuesday, it was clear that Kim was getting more than he was giving, and that Trump wanted the summit so badly, he was prepared to swallow some of his earlier demands. This seems like the sort of deal — opening the door for Pyongyang in exchange for unanchored promises — that national security adviser John Bolton has been warning about for 25 years.