So much for the “World Peace” that Donald Trump bragged he would create at the June 12 Singapore summit. In a wildly inappropriate letter that veered between a bullying and lachrymose tone, Trump bowed to the inevitable in canceling the summit with Kim Jong-un. He had to do it before Kim did.
Already Kim had the upper hand. Trump’s impetuous decision gave the Supreme Leader, as the administration had taken to calling him, the validation the regime was seeking for decades. Now it will not be back to the future. South Korea isn’t going to readopt a tough posture of “maximum pressure” toward the North. Score one for Kim.
But another winner is national security adviser John Bolton who never wanted a summit in the first place. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who invested a good deal of time and effort, is the loser. Trump is bound to veer back toward his truculent talk about nuclear war. In fact he already did in his letter to Kim.
But Trump’s main campaign of maximum pressure will be directed at the deep state. Originally the summit was supposed to burnish his bona fides as a foreign policy genius à la Ronald Reagan. But Trump has decided to pursue a scorched earth strategy against the FBI and Department of Justice, not to mention protesting NFL players who he says “shouldn’t be in the country.” One way or the other, Trump is going on the warpath.