Trump’s gambit at the summit seems to have played to Kim’s advantage in other important respects, as well.
North Korea has succeeded beyond its wildest dreams in shutting down defensive (but “expensive,” as Trump described them) U.S.–South Korean joint military exercises. While Trump considers them expensive, North Korea refers to them as “provocative war games.” Trump gave up this card without even asking for a corresponding halt of North Korean conventional exercises, let alone a complete stop to its nuclear and missile programs.
A long-standing goal for the Kim regime has been to enmesh the United States in negotiations over a peace treaty, partly to push for the end of the U.S.–South Korean alliance and U.S. Forces Korea, in Seoul. But it’s unclear if Kim even needs a peace treaty in light of Trump’s emphatic desire to “get our soldiers out.”
One wonders which leader is more motivated to move U.S. troops off the Korean Peninsula—Kim or Trump?