First, such an idea has been floated in the past—and not even by this administration. Back in 2000, then-secretary of state Madeline Albright went to North Korea to meet with then-leader Kim Jong-il to potentially set up an even bigger summit: between Kim and President Bill Clinton.
We should also consider the fact that Trump does not follow any of the conventions of traditional foreign policy thinking. He goes with his gut, and he loves to make a splash, dominating the media cycle every moment that he can, to the point that he even told a recent rally in West Virginia that he and Kim “fell in love,” knowing it would send the media into a tailspin. And nothing would dominate cable news more than Trump’s motorcade going through the streets of Pyongyang, where ICBMs custom-built to strike America traveled down the boulevard just last year.
Then there is the reality that Trump’s North Korea policy is unsustainable, something Trump himself likely understands. Shaking hands with Kim in Singapore back in June was interpreted as a signal to nations around Asia that U.S. policy towards the north is changing, and that while sanctions evasion won’t be encouraged, it won’t spark armed conflict either. Many are now beginning to take advantage of this. When you factor in the brewing U.S.-China trade war and the fact that 90 percent of all of North Korean exports go through Beijing one way or another, China will likely forget about any cooperation with the Trump administration on the north. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that the idea was suspect all along, especially when you consider China’s nearly unstoppable ability to control crude flows into the North. Considering these points together, one sees that maximum pressure is dead and buried.