President Trump's surprise announcement of a meeting in May with North Korea's Kim Jong Un has led to all kinds of speculation about how things might unfold, and one piece getting attention is by Victor Cha, a former National Security Council director. In the New York Times, he lays out two possibilities of what Trump might offer. One is "incremental" assistance and the lifting of sanctions if Kim agrees to freeze and eventually dismantle his nuclear and long-range ballistic missile programs. But Cha thinks Trump might be more tempted by a "big bang" idea—denuclearization in exchange for a peace treaty and diplomatic normalization of relations. Cha lays out both scenarios and warns that a disastrous meeting could actually "take us closer to war." Other views and developments:
- Like he planned it? The meeting is "a stunning vindication of the president’s strategy," writes Robert Charles at Fox News. He credits Trump's "engaged, creative and blunt approach" for securing the meeting. A denuclearized Korean peninsula is a long shot, but if Trump pulls it off, he would secure global stature on par with Ronald Reagan, writes Charles. "Donald Does It Again!" declared a headline at Drudge.
- Those insults: Trump has referred to Kim as "little rocket man" and "short and fat," while Kim has called Trump a "mentally deranged US dotard." Relive the slams via USA Today.
- A fear: At the Atlantic, Thomas Wright fears Trump will take a deal that Steve Bannon once floated publicly: The US withdraws its troops if the North agrees to freeze (but not dismantle) its nuclear program and allow inspections. This would "legitimize" the North's existing arsenal and "signal that the United States cares little for its friends and is only concerned about direct threats to the homeland." Wright sees this as a "disaster" for the US.
- It's a trap: One common sentiment is that Trump is walking into a trap, the idea being that North Korea has no plans to scrap its nukes but will use the summit to earn legitimacy for its regime's methods. Sure, it's possible Trump comes out of all this with a Nobel Peace Prize, writes Tom Nichols at USA Today, but it's far more likely "that this will all end in diplomatic disaster."
- Kim's gain: Another analysis by Anna Fifield at the Washington Post amplifies the legitimacy angle, saying it is what Kim craves the most. "He wants to be treated as an equal by the global superpower, and a photo opportunity with the most powerful leader in the free world would go a long way to helping him achieve that."
- Thumbs up from Rodman: The American who might know Kim the best is on board. "Well done, President Trump," he tells the Washington Post. The former NBA star praised the decision to take the "historical meeting" and asked Trump to pass along his "regards to Marshall Kim Jong Un and his family."
- Big picture: An analysis at 38 North floats the possibility that this is "the beginning of the end of the post-1990 world order." If so, that means lots of fundamentals need reassessment, including "the US presence on the Korean peninsula, the status of Taiwan, and in a more distant future, the possible prospect of a Korean unification with Chinese backing," writes Ruediger Frank.
- China's hand? A story at the Korea Herald wonders whether China played a role in leading Kim to the table. One professor thinks Beijing let it be clear that it can no longer protect the North given its "nuclear and missile provocations."
- Another theory: Philip Williams of Australia's ABC is skeptical of huge breakthroughs at the summit, but he holds out hope that Trump's "unconventional style yields unconventional results." Maybe Trump has rattled Pyongyang enough that they don't want to risk a military confrontation, he writes.
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