North Korea Summit to Hinge on Whether Trump Likes Cut of Kim’s Jib

President Deals. Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

What is the plan for President Trump’s June 12 meeting with Kim Jong-un in Singapore? There doesn’t seem to be much of one.

So says National Security Adviser John Bolton, who explained why this is a good thing on ABC’s This Week Sunday morning.

Bolton told Martha Raddatz that there’s a positive side to forgoing the usual groundwork of diplomacy that go into such high-stakes negotiations.

“I think one advantage of having this meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un so soon, in effect, without months and months and months of preparation is that President Trump will be able to size Kim Jong-un up and see if the commitment is real,” he said.

That Trump will be able to discern whether the dictator of a country with a long history of diplomatic deception is bluffing simply by taking the measure of the man is laughable. But the idea that the president’s unique set of skills has accomplished what previous, more cautious presidents could not is now an article of faith on the right. And it’s not completely without merit. Many experts agree that the summit is at least a sign of progress, one that is hard to imagine without Trump’s bluster. And on Saturday, North Korea announced that it had scheduled the demolition of a nuclear test site, the latest sign that it may actually be serious about curbing its threatening behavior.

Still, personal chemistry between Trump and Kim at the June meeting will only go so far in accomplishing either side’s goals. What comes next will be a far heavier lift.

In an interview with Jake Tapper on Sunday, Bolton laid out his nonsensical case for why the Iran nuclear agreement was a nonstarter, wrongly telling the CNN host that it had actually allowed Iran “cover” to keep producing nukes. But coming up with an agreement with North Korea that guarantees anything close to the level of inspections Iran offered the U.S. will be monumentally difficult. And the incentives dangled by the Trump administration for Kim to get rid of its nuclear arsenal underscore how badly the U.S.’s credibility has been damaged. Bolton had previously proposed that North Korea follow the Libyan model for giving up its weapons — a spectacularly unattractive option for any world leader who recalls Muammar Gaddafi’s fate at the hands of an American-backed revolution. And on Saturday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo floated the possibility that the U.S. could help with North Korea’s economy if it gives up its weapons, an agreement that sounds like … the Iran deal the U.S. just violated.

As much as White House officials pretend that President Trump’s supernatural ability to sniff out Kim Jong-un’s true intentions will be the key to peace on the Korean peninsula, June 12 is only the beginning of this story.

North Korea Summit to Hinge on Personal Chemistry Alone