Trump should aim small on North Korea


February 27, 2019 - 10:48 AM

This week’s summit meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offers an opportunity for the sort of spectacle Trump loves — starring himself as the wizardly negotiator who wins huge concessions that eluded his inept predecessors. He’d be wise to resist the temptation, and to concentrate on progress not theater.

A real grand bargain with North Korea is, at this point, virtually impossible. It would ask too much of both sides —for North Korea to eliminate its nuclear and long-range missile arsenals and production facilities, which the regime sees as essential for its survival; and for the U.S. to end sanctions and possibly withdraw troops from the Korean Peninsula, which would undermine its alliances and strategic position in Northeast Asia.

Even if such pledges were made, neither country could expect the other to honor them.