The good news is that U.S. President Donald Trump has walked away from a potentially disastrous deal with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. The bad news is that Trump is unlikely to change his leadership style, downplay his negotiating prowess, or stop relying on his instincts to guide him through very treacherous waters.
More about what happened during the February 27–28 Hanoi summit will trickle out over the next several weeks. Trump’s national security team will assess lessons learned and strategize their next moves. Regardless of how Trump’s team opts to handle future negotiations with North Korea, however, Pyongyang has already made gains that will last through the end of Trump’s first term. What’s more, the actions of Trump and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, have likely weakened South Korea’s security posture.
Three moments reaffirmed Trump’s signature tendencies. First, he continues to take autocrats and dictators at their word, which means there will always be inherent limitations in his dealings with them. He did this with Russian President Vladimir Putin when he accepted Putin’s word that Russia didn’t intervene in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And Trump also believed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman when he claimed the royal family had nothing to do with the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Read More