A North Korea Success Plan for Trump
Rather than walking away as Bolton advises, Trump should make the most of his personal dialogue with the North Korean leader to establish a secure, reliable communications link between Washington and Pyongyang—a channel to replace largely haphazard and issue-specific conversations with a more predictable mechanism. Communicating red lines and intentions clearly and directly benefits us. American and North Korean officials would have quickly troubleshooting in the event of a mishap or a crisis. Dialogue would both help keep a nuclear-armed North Korea in a box and decrease the chances of miscalculating or blundering into an enormously costly war.
As much as we would all like to turn on the television one morning and learn that Kim Jong-un has relinquished his nuclear stockpile, it would be the epitome of foolishness if the administration threw all of its eggs in the denuclearization basket.
A Trump retreat with Kim can be a success if he focuses on attainable and important goals for the United States—decreasing risk, increasing dialogue, and avoiding a catastrophic war on the Korean Peninsula. The creation of a hotline between Washington to Pyongyang would reinforce the one policy that has proven successful with every other nuclear adversary: deterrence; containment; and clear-minded, pragmatic, and common-sense diplomacy.
Daniel R. DePetris, a fellow at Washington-based think tank Defense Priorities. He is a columnist for the National Interest and The American Conservative. Follow him on Twitter at @dandepetris.