The surreal made-for-TV diplomacy that was the Trump-Kim summit has now officially drawn to a close. Going by a simple accounting of what was given up, Kim emerges as the clear winner in US-DPRK rapprochement – at least for now. President Trump has handed over the PR coup of a high-level summit and now the long sought-after concession of halting US-ROK military exercises (apparently without even warning his allies in Seoul). He has received nothing in return but a vaguely worded commitment to denuclearization from Kim Jong-un, which President Trump’s gut tells him is legit despite ample evidence of past duplicity from the DPRK. In the president’s words, he just “knows when somebody wants to deal.”
Will the summit be looked back on as the bold ice-breaker that rebooted US-DPRK relations, or will it be President Trump’s version of the 2001 Slovenia Summit where George W Bush famously looked into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and “got a sense of his soul”?
Only time will tell, but smart money is still on the latter.