Donald Trump put down his remaining chips on the hope that he could have his way with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and now Trump is probably wishing he could have those chips back. Trump just finished publicly marrying himself to a supposed peace process with Kim, yet now Kim is predictably using Trump’s vulnerability to play him for a fool.
South Korea and the United States held a joint military exercise this week, which is nothing out of the ordinary. But Kim Jong Un is using it as an excuse to cancel his upcoming meeting with South Korea. Kim is also threatening to cancel his upcoming meeting with Donald Trump as well. The North Korean leader is taking advantage of the fact that he doesn’t need these talks as badly as Trump does, and he’s making a point of reminding everyone that he’s the one holding the leverage here.
Trump has few options in response. He’s in the weakest position of any U.S. President since Richard Nixon in 1974, as his criminal scandals continue to undercut his footing, which has been illegitimate from the start. Trump has very loudly pegged himself to the idea of making progress with North Korea, which would be his sole positive accomplishment since taking office. He’s even pushed the notion that the investigations into his numerous criminal scandals are a distraction from the North Korea peace process. But now it’s clear that there never was any process.
Donald Trump is now left having to decide whether to essentially beg Kim Jong Un to go through with the meeting, which would leave Trump on even weaker negotiating ground, or blowing off Kim entirely, which would wipe out any shot at his one big accomplishment. Either way, Trump is Now firmly in a hole with regard to North Korea.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report