President Trump is right to sideline North Korean human rights, right to flatter Kim Jong Un in their personal meetings, and right to pursue a grand bargain to end North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile-enabled nuclear threat. But all his efforts will go to waste if he copies South Korea and embraces a concession-based strategy towards Kim.
Sadly, that’s exactly what Trump did on Friday, in suspending sanctions that were about to be introduced on Kim’s regime.
It’s not just a mistaken action, it’s one with amazingly bad timing: As Trump gifted Kim this undeserved relief on Friday, Kim abruptly ended his participation at a North and South Korean forum. Kim’s action is designed to intimidate Seoul and break U.S.-South Korean alignment. Trump should have responded resolutely, at least ensuring that the now-canceled sanctions took effect.