The media and many other observers can’t abide a foreign policy “summit” without an “agreement”, as though the absence of one is a failure of the effort. Not so, as proven many times, most notably with Reagan at Reykjavik with Gorbachev. Likewise, I believe the recent meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un of North Korea was productive and that the President did the right thing in walking away from a deal not in America’s or the world’s best interest. The productivity comes with the message that is left with Kim and heard by our other adversaries, particularly President Xi of China, that the U. S. is serious about ridding the world of the nuclear threat posed by the North Korean regime and will force an expensive price for their failure to take Trump seriously.
Two things, however, need to be done as a follow up. One, China needs to be brought into the nuclear arms treaty mix along with Russia and the U. S. The recent effective repeal of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia was the right move, but as it stands now the U. S. is the only major nuclear power in compliance with any nuclear agreement and this needs to change. Two, President Trump should exhibit much more moral clarity in his relationship with Kim. Ronald Reagan went from designating the Soviet Union as the “evil empire” to the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of the Soviet Union in about eight years because he understood the true nature of the regime with which he was dealing. Taking Kim “at his word” might be necessary to some extent to keep the conversation going, but to deny the obvious crimes of his regime and the culpability of its leader is not acceptable.