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Trump’s North Korean Road to Nowhere

Less than a year after his unprecedented face-to-face meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, US President Donald Trump is planning to hold another summit to discuss denuclearization. Judging by the outcome of the first meeting, US allies in the region have good reason to be deeply concerned.

ATLANTA – When US President Donald Trump meets again with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un next month, he will be staging the second act in a comedy of manners that now passes for US foreign policy on the Korean Peninsula. Between Kim’s billets-doux to the White House and Trump’s gushing praise of Kim, the script could have been written by Oscar Wilde. Like any drawing-room farce, the plot is simple enough: Kim will pledge to abandon his nuclear weapons someday, while coquettishly concealing any details about the program that produces them, and Trump will promise to shower wealth on the Kim dynasty if he does.

But, of course, this play is more tragedy than comedy. Like Trump’s threats to abandon longstanding alliances, withdraw US forces from strategically important regions, and tear up trade deals, the prospect of more presidential shooting from the hip is unnerving US allies, soldiers, diplomats, and even some politicians.

There is good reason to worry, given the outcome of the two leaders’ summit in Singapore last June. Trump’s naive acceptance of Kim’s empty promises over the past eight months has done nothing but erode the US’s leverage in South Korea and beyond. The North has continued to pursue its ballistic-missile program; and through his overtures to South Korea and China, Kim has succeeded in weakening the sanctions on his regime.

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