President Donald Trump has a bad habit of making life hard for his friends. The president is not shy about humiliating the members of his Cabinet and West Wing officials on Twitter. He compels those in his orbit to be self-effacing, to effusively honor him, or to issue embarrassingly hollow claims to spare Trump some minor shame. Despite a laudably confrontational policy toward Russia, Donald Trump seems incapable of stifling his misplaced admiration for Vladimir Putin. The list of indignities visited upon Trump’s defenders goes on, and it is set to expand next month with the president’s apparent decision to move forward with his meeting with North Korea’s criminal despot Kim Jong-un.

The signs have been ominous for months. Donald Trump hastily accepted an offer to meet with Kim after approximately 45 minutes of deliberation in March, thus handing the North Korean dictator an unreciprocated concession that North Korean dictators have sought for decades. In the ten weeks that followed, preparatory work stalled with neither side sending a clear signal as to what this summit of principals was supposed to achieve. The history of similar bilateral summits between adversarial leaders is not encouraging, so it came as a pleasant surprise when Donald Trump took the opportunity to back out.

The cancelation of the summit was no small display of strategic insight. The chances for a successful meeting appeared bleak by the time Trump dictated his letter. Given the prestige that the president and his supporters had invested in the promise of détente between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United Nations, backing out of the summit meant losing face. The president is a prideful man, and this sacrifice was a welcome recognition of reality. Trump earned due praise from his fellow Republicans for making it.

From interventionists like GOP Senator Lindsey Graham to advocates for retrenchment like Senator Rand Paul, the acclaim was nearly universal. Now, said Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio, was the time to resume maximum economic, diplomatic, and military pressure on Pyongyang. America’s only objective in any negotiation with the DPRK should be, as Senator Cory Gardner said in a statement, the “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” True to form, it seems the president has hung all his defenders out to dry.

Donald Trump has not displayed any consternation over the fact that much of the world reacted to his decision to call off the summit as though it never happened. Contrary to the president’s hollow protestations, the White House has signaled to reporters that the logistical hurdles associated with organizing the June 12 summit (to say nothing of what it is supposed to accomplish) are all but prohibitive. And yet, everyone has continued to prepare for it anyway.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in made an ostentatious pilgrimage north of the DMZ to embrace his Communist counterpart and discuss the summit. Kim Yong-chol, a North Korean official implicated in a 2010 torpedoing of a South Korean ship in which 46 people died, traveled to New York City to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. North Korean and U.S. officials have traveled to Singapore to perform advance work. Even Donald Trump has resumed tweeting out his excessively high expectations for the upcoming talks with North Korea. To preserve the integrity of the interminable, meandering diplomatic process, the world has chosen to ignore the American president. More remarkable still, Trump doesn’t seem to mind.

Anyone who expects summitry to produce miracles took an ice water bath on Tuesday in the form of a report from NBC News in which multiple national security and intelligence officials stated the obvious: North Korea has no intention of denuclearizing. Kim is, however, prepared to offer some concessions to Trump in the form of his willingness to open a Pyongyang franchise for a Western hamburger joint. That modestly humorous aside spells real trouble.

Of course Kim is willing to provide Trump with a photo opportunity and a cosmetic “victory” in the form of openness to Western cultural encroachment. The loosening of economic sanctions sufficient to allow a Western commercial enterprise a supply chain into North Korea is a concession. For that matter, a meeting between the leader of the free world and the 30-something tin-pot dynast of the world’s most brutal and impoverished client state is a concession. If Trump isn’t getting denuclearization out of the deal, what is he getting? The illusory and easily reversed rollback of Kim’s nuclear and missile programs? We’ve seen this movie before. The temptation for Trump to accept an ephemeral “victory” in Singapore may be too great for the president to resist.

If North Korea were to disarm unilaterally, it would be the first nuclear state in history to do so without either the character of the regime or the regional threat environment changing radically. North Korean disarmament being therefore unlikely, what is the point of this summit? Increasingly, it seems only to serve as a prestige play to provide the West with the illusion of security while giving a moribund criminal state a new lease on life. The best outcome from this summit would be “failure,” leaving both parties confused and hostile and rendering lower-level diplomatic contacts moot but ensuring that the U.S. still held its bargaining chips in reserve. The worst outcome would be a “deal” in which the U.S. provides Kim with economic assistance and security guarantees in exchange for nothing verifiable or permanent. That is the most likely outcome.

Consequently, this summit is more likely to complicate the problem on the Korean Peninsula than untangle it. Trump was right to call it off when he did. He is wrong to pretend that never happened. Republicans who praised him for making the right call last week should resume forcefully criticizing the president before he does something he cannot take back.

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