Trump and Kim cartoon Pedro Molina

The Day of the Jackals

After months of Sturm und Drang, if not necessarily preparation, US President Donald Trump finally sat down with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong-un. But it is unclear if the two showmen can match the high drama of the occasion with an agreement that serves more than their own personal ambitions.

In this Big Picture, Yoon Young-kwan argues that an eventual deal over the North’s nuclear weapons is indeed possible, but only if both sides can overcome their longstanding mutual distrust. At the same time, Christopher R. Hill warns that for Trump to be able to claim any kind of legitimate victory at the Singapore summit, he will have to juggle the interests of not just the US, but also South Korea and Japan.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Drew suggests that Kim has perhaps come to regard Trump as a kindred (authoritarian) spirit, which could make a final deal of some kind more likely. Yet Bill Emmott emphasizes that there is a third strongman in the mix: Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has much to gain from a Trump-Kim deal. Likewise, Richard N. Haass, thinks the summit could become a defining moment in US-China relations, but only if Xi and Trump are willing to meet halfway.

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