Focus only on Kim’s actions, not promises
President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un are planning a second summit meeting. The date and place have not yet been arranged.
But the question the two will discuss is clear: Is Kim keeping his pledge to dial back on North Korea’s runaway militarism?
North Korea already possesses nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, though Kim’s arsenal is extremely limited in comparison to what the United States has at its disposal. Any such capability in Kim’s hands is dangerous, however.
Alternating between periods of name-calling and chumming it up, Trump and Kim say they are agreed Pyongyang’s buildup needs to stop. Trump himself holds out hope for “denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.
Convincing Kim to do that may fall into the category of fairy tale. But how far will he go?
Trump seems to believe Kim is sincere. But the dictator, like his father and grandfather before him, may be playing the rest of the world for suckers. The entire dynasty has been a continuing story of pledging peaceful intentions, reaping economic aid, then building new weapons.
If Kim is playing the old game, it will come as no surprise.
Events such as summit meetings are beloved by national leaders the world over. But Trump should bear firmly in mind that his next meeting with Kim will have virtually no concrete meaning.
What is important is not what Kim promises — but what U.S. intelligence agencies determine he is really doing.