The obvious risk is that Trump could shift very rapidly back into his bellicose posture of last year. He could threaten a first strike against North Korea’s facilities if progress did not speed up, or even demonstrate the accuracy of American missiles somewhere that Kim could see it. And with John Bolton running the National Security Council, Trump will likely have someone whispering in his ear who would be more than happy to see such provocations provide justification for an actual attack.
But would the president actually give the order for a strike? The evidence that he wants to get into a war of anything more than tweets is so far thin on the ground. It’s just as plausible that, if talks stalled, Trump would gin up a crisis, threatening fire and fury, only to announce some new large concession — whether symbolic or substantive — and proclaim himself a peacemaker once again. That, after all, is precisely what he has already done.