I think there are essentially two takeaways from this historic event in Helsinki. The first is that Donald Trump is a bold, risk-taking statesman whose demotic style of delivery prevents many from appreciating the beneficently radical nature of his diplomacy. Maybe he will wind up being played by Kim Jong-un. But maybe his astonishing meeting with the tubby tyrant in Singapore is the beginning of the normalization of North Korea. If that happens—and I acknowledge that history suggests it is a big “if”—then President Trump will have achieved a world-historical diplomatic victory. His willingness to meet “jaw to jaw” would then be seen as a gambit of genius.
Maybe Putin is running circles around a gullible Trump. But maybe it is a real, as distinct from an Obama-Clinton merely rhetorical, reset. Then that, too, will be seen as a masterly and peace-enhancing initiative.
As becomes more and more clear as the first Trump Administration evolves, this president is someone who is willing, nay eager, to challenge the bureaucratic status quo, on domestic issues as well as in foreign policy.