Kim Jong-un is in a trap, and he knows it. His sabre-rattling has reached its only possible conclusion: shut up or fight.
And you can be sure, he does not want to fight. Neither do his generals. They understand that it will mean their own annihilation. But no prior American president would give him (or his father) what he craves: normalisation. Kim wants North Korea to be a normal, accepted dictatorship, like China or Russia or Myanmar. He wants to be accepted by international banks and corporations and other countries and the UN. They are all so happy to overlook so much. Why can’t he get in on the deal? Why does his country have to be such a pariah? Can’t he come in from the cold?
Until Donald Trump arrived in the White House, he was stuck. No American leader would reward his threats of nuclear terrorism. But Trump is different. He is a sociopath. He is already a criminal oligarch. He likes political dictatorships, and wants to be a dictator himself. Trump would be happy to help Kim, if it could be positioned as a success to his brainwashed followers and to his fellow power-mad Republicans.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump welcomes Kim into the international fold, and without North Korea having to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles (at least for a very long time – meaning for ever). A meaningless promise will be enough. Kim will get his normalisation. North Korea will start opening. It will begin transitioning to the China dictatorship model. And then, over a period of many years, Kim will become a figurehead (he probably already is). And finally, when he is gone, another suitable but this time non-Kim will be chosen to perpetuate the dictatorship. Along the way, investment will start to flood in, which Kim and his top-cronies will steal – they will at last get seriously rich. And in conclusion, through all of this, the political dynasty will be transformed to a totally acceptable plutocracy.
So, why do I say Donald Trump is being played? Because North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Trump will have been outmanoeuvred by “Little Rocket Man”, and the US will not be safe. Secondly, as with everything he has been doing, this was meant to distract the public from Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Trump may even be hoping that Mueller might go easy on him, if his propagandists can generate sympathy by saying that he ended the North Korean crisis. Here, though, he is of course mistaken. Mueller will never stray from his mission, of defending America from foreign interference, including in this case Putin’s conspiracy with the Trump family mafia.