Make no mistake, the collapse of this week’s U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi is a win for Kim Jong Un. Trump and his officials are already spinning this as a draw, stating that North Korea has promised to continue its testing moratorium, claiming unspecified progress was made inside the talks and promising the negotiations will continue.
But by securing an extension of the process while giving up nothing on denuclearization, Kim can continue improving his country’s nuclear and missile capabilities, benefit from an ever-eroding sanctions regime and enjoy his elevated status as a newly respected member of the international community.
The real question is: Did Kim plan it this way? Did he lure Trump to Hanoi only to set demands he knew the United States could never agree to, while holding Trump’s hand so he would acquiesce? There’s plenty of evidence that’s exactly what happened.