Two months before meeting with Trump in Singapore in June 2018, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un had declared that he was suspending nuclear weapons and missile tests.

However, Bolton seemed intent on sabotaging any accommodation with the North Koreans. A month before he had started to work at the White House, Bolton had written a piece for the Wall Street Journal in which he laid out the purported legal arguments for a preemptive war against North Korea. This would be a redo of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, of which Bolton remained a vocal supporter.

Within weeks of taking up his position as national security adviser, Bolton said publicly that the administration was contemplating the “Libya model” for North Korea.

This referred to the Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who had agreed to abandon his weapons-of-mass-destruction program in the early 2000s in exchange for lifting the onerous sanctions that were then in place on his regime. A few years later, in 2011, US-backed rebels toppled Gadhafi’s regime. The rebels then hunted Gadhafi down and killed him in a ditch.