Diplomacy is impossible without diplomats. Who is Trump’s James Baker? Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is a trumped-up — no pun intended — Tea Party congressman, an impatient saber rattler. John Bolton is a living meme who owns the libs by breathing, which is not the same thing as, you know, convincing an unstable authoritarian man-child not to shoot missiles in the direction of his neighbors. By all accounts Rex Tillerson was not a good fit for the Trump White House, and John Kelly should have been chased out long before his resignation. The personnel, whoever they are, are not in place and never have been. Maybe they don’t exist.
Meanwhile, the news of Kim’s belligerence comes amid an apparent breakdown in the trade talks between China and the United States. There are good reasons — moral and economic — for Trump to be recalcitrant on the subject of Chinese imports. But the reality of the situation on the Korean Peninsula is that it will not be resolved by Washington and Pyongyang unilaterally. Any lasting agreement between the two will have to involve China, which will use the American desire for stability in Pyongyang to demand trade-related concessions that Trump appears unwilling to make, at least for now.