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Trump Cancels the North Korea Summit

After doing their best to antagonize North Korea over the last couple of weeks, the Trump administration is calling off the summit all together:

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday called off a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, even after North Korea followed through on a pledge to blow up tunnels at its nuclear test site.

Referring to a scheduled June 12 meeting with Kim in Singapore, Trump said in a letter to the North Korean leader: “Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it would be inappropriate, at this time, to have this long- planned meeting.”

Trump is responding to North Korea’s vehement objections to Pence’s “Libya model” rhetoric, which was just an echo of Trump’s own reckless rhetoric from last week. Bolton is probably very pleased that the Libya comparison had exactly the provocative and destructive effect that he surely intended it to have when he first started talking about itmonths ago. Having thoroughly poisoned the atmosphere in the weeks leading up to the meeting, Bolton managed to sabotage diplomacy with North Korea with a minimum of effort.

All things considered, it is probably better that the summit isn’t going to happen. It was a mistake to agree to the summit so hastily without doing any of the necessary preparation, and the public recriminations between the two sides over the last two weeks underscore how far apart the U.S. and North Korea remain on the main issues. Abruptly canceling the summit may undermine inter-Korean rapprochement in the short term, but going to the summit and then walking out on it–as administration officials kept promising they would do if their unrealistic demands weren’t met–would have done more damage.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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