Into this near autonomous skid towards conflict blundered Mr. Trump. It did look grim for a few months, the two threatening strikes on each other, missiles flying, and speculation even emerging that the United States might move nuclear weapons back onto South Korean soil.

But then a different course emerged, the denuclearization dream vetoing the national security establishment’s “tried and true” practices. Much of the American activity stopped or slowed at the end of 2017. The navy pulled back and submarines were sent home. B-1 bombers flew elsewhere. After the first summit meeting, some war games in South Korea were canceled. There was even a gap between rotating Army units coming from the United States.

Meanwhile, a new leader in South Korea made significant overtures to the North and the two sides increased their talks and meetings, ratcheting down tensions and creating far better conditions for serious negotiations. And slowly, though this could change on the whims of the illustrators of doom, the ominous maps also pulled back. You know the ones I’m talking about. First Guam and then Hawaii in range of the North’s missiles, then Alaska and California, all culminating with the mushroom cloud and the dotted line moving closer to Washington DC itself.