North Korea caught off balance
For decades, North Korea’s vicious rulers have been able to count on Americans’ fervent, abiding desire for peace. Dictator Kim Jong Un, like his father and grandfather, views that as a weakness to be exploited.
Our presidents, both Republican and Democrat, have been so desperate to avoid conflict with North Korea that they have accepted Pyongyang’s pledges it would reform time and time again. The Kim dynasty has benefited economically, diplomatically and militarily from that attitude, to the point that Kim now has nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
He had no reason to expect President Donald Trump would be any different, despite the current U.S. leader’s tough language regarding North Korea’s ongoing weapons buildup.
So what Trump did Thursday may have come as a shock to Kim: The president canceled a meeting between the two of them that had been planned for June 12.
For months, Kim has been striving to raise hopes among Americans and South Koreans that tensions involving his arsenal could be reduced. But a few days ago, he switched back to the Kim we all know and distrust: He launched another rhetorical assault against U.S. officials.
In response, Trump canceled the June 12 meeting.
He left the door open to talks, however — as long as Kim takes the lead in requesting a meeting.
For once, North Korea may have been caught off-balance. The regime’s strategy for dealing with the United States has hit a roadblock — and, for those who want peace rather than mere promises, that is a good thing.