While it’s easy to slam Trump for being so complimentary towards a ruthless leader like Kim, none of us know for sure if the glowing rhetoric prevented him from walking away from the table. It may be uncomfortable for us to call Kim “very talented,” but in order for Trump to keep these peace talks alive, he has to earn Kim’s trust. We all know what Kim is capable of. He starves his people, has thousands of them in interment camps, has his own relatives assassinated, and is responsible for the death of Otto Warmbier. Kim is a monster, but he’s also an existential threat to the rest of the planet. And if kind words are what is keeping the possibility of denuclearization alive, maybe we should give Trump a pass.
In a perfect world, Kim would give up his nuclear program and stop the suffering of his people without us giving him anything in return. Since that’s not happening, the Trump administration is walking on a tight rope in order to make a historic peace deal with the regime. Trump and his supporters should not consider this summit to be victory, but it is certainly a positive step forward.
North Korea has acted in bad faith for decades, so it will take time for meaningful change to take place.