A breakdown of 10 major takeaways from the Trump-Kim summit and why they matter.
(1) The simple act of talking changes North Korean and American behaviors and perceptions in ways that make conflict far less likely. That’s a big deal.
(2) The joint statement signed by Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim contains polite diplomatic platitudes but is otherwise largely empty. It doesn’t resolve any issues, but it keeps the countries engaged.
(3) Later, Mr. Trump made a concession with significance: The United States will suspend its joint military exercises with South Korea.
(4) Trump may have made the concession on South Korea’s behalf without its consent or advance knowledge which sends the message that South Koreans cannot always count on the United States.
(5) The United States staged the summit meeting in a way that handed Mr. Kim some symbolic but meaningful concessions. For one, the two countries and their leaders were presented as equals.
(6) It costs the United States little to make those concessions. Still, they can be given away only once, and the United States received relatively little from North Korea in return.
(7) The meeting sends important messages to other adversarial states. Mr. Kim appears to have forced Mr. Trump to the table by developing nuclear weapons and missiles that can reach the United States. But Mr. Kim’s human rights record, considered among the world’s worst, did not appear to be an issue.
(8) If the point of the meeting was to bring the world demonstrably closer to resolving the North Korea crisis, then that didn’t happen.
(9) By tearing up the Iran nuclear deal despite sustained indication of Iranian compliance, and by reneging on agreements even with long-term allies, the United States has deepened suspicion that it cannot be trusted to make arms-control agreements. So don’t expect talks to produce much of verifiable substance.
(10) Still, it’s worth reiterating that first point: Almost any talks, even if they elevate Mr. Kim and grant him concessions for little return, significantly reduce the risk of war.
[New York Times]