Finally, accept an imperfect but improved outcome. Obviously, there are good reasons not to trust the North. But then, Kim would be a fool to trust the United States. A North Korea that looks and acts almost “normal,” like so many other states—brutal toward its own people, but without the saber-rattling of yore—would be a major advance for Northeast Asia. That would be more than the president’s recent predecessors achieved.
Trump took a chance on North Korea. Despite the barbs from his critics, he created opportunities for bilateral and regional détente that did not previously exist. However, he must temper his expectations and moderate his goals. Simply turning the North into a responsible international stakeholder would be a major triumph.
Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World and coauthor of The Korean Conundrum: America’s Troubled Relations with North and South Korea .