Donald Trump has given North Korea’s Kim Jong-un – a rogue dictator the American president says he loves, respects, and trusts – a striking number of concessions. The Republican gave the North Korean leader the bilateral talks he wanted. And the international legitimacy he wanted. And the cessation of military exercises he wanted. And the propaganda opportunities he wanted.
What has the United States received in return? One year ago this week, Trump said he’d scored three major accomplishments: a North Korean agreement to denuclearization, the closure of North Korean nuclear sites, and an end to North Korean weapons testing.
The first point turned out to be wrong; the second turned out to be backwards; and while the third was largely true for a while, that’s no longer the case.
…North Korea said that it had test-fired a new type of “tactical guided weapon,” its first such test in nearly half a year.
The test, which didn’t appear to be of a banned mid- or long-range ballistic missile that could scuttle negotiations, allows Pyongyang to show its people it is pushing ahead with weapons development while also reassuring domestic military officials worried that diplomacy with Washington signals weakness. […]
NBC News could not independently verify North Korea’s claim, and it wasn’t immediately clear what had been tested. The White House said it was aware of the report and had no comment.
North Korean state-run media also said yesterday that officials in Pyongyang no longer want Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to participate in nuclear talks, instead calling for someone who “is more careful and mature in communicating.”
Remember, it wasn’t long ago that Donald Trump had effectively already declared “mission accomplished” with regards to his policy in North Korea. “We’re very happy how it’s going with North Korea,” he told reporters in November, adding, “Nobody else could have done what I’ve done.”
But what is it, exactly, that Trump thinks he’s done? After all of his concessions to the rogue, nuclear-armed dictator, what does he have to show for his efforts?
It seemed obvious from the outset that Trump was making a mistake by prematurely claiming a triumph on North Korea. Despite the circumstances, though, as regular readers know, the American president assured the world that he’d “solved” the problem posed by the rogue nuclear state, to the point that North Korea is no longer a threat.
“President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem,” Trump declared last month. “No longer – sleep well tonight!”
All of this rhetoric seemed misguided at the time. It seems a little worse now.