There are several reasons for why the initiative on North Korea might collapse. And the already existing arsenal of nuclear weapons in North Korea presents greater challenges than Qaddafi’s nascent nuclear program. But a major reason for failure is how Trump has addressed the problem: impulsively and unilaterally, without adequate assessment and preparation, and evidently without a well-founded idea of what sort of agreement is feasible. He approaches the problem in a manner less designed to advance international security quietly than to make a public show out of how he supposedly is a better deal-maker than his predecessors—while trashing their accomplishments, flummoxing important allies, and damaging U.S. credibility in the process.
Paul R. Pillar is a contributing editor at the National Interest and the author of Why America Misunderstands the World .