Trump made history by meeting with Kim (not the Kardashian, the other one) to discuss denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The reaction to this event has been mixed. As would be expected, people tend to respond along their party affiliations and pundits have tended to stick with their usual lane.
One interesting counterfactual question is to ask how people would respond if Obama had been the one to meet with Kim during his presidency. Presumably, people would divide up by their party affiliations and pundits would stay in their usual lanes. For example, Fox New would probably have run harsh criticisms about Obama being a buddy to a tyrant and being weak. There would presumably also have implied that Obama was a secret communist.
Speculation about the reaction to a hypothetical meeting between Obama and Kim can be grounded by considering the response to a nuclear deal actually conducted by the Obama administration, namely the Iran deal. Trump harshly criticized the deal as did many of the pundits and politicians on the right. While a deal more favorable to the United States is imaginable, more objective observers tended to agree that it was a decent deal and was generally positive in its consequences. It is also important to note that Iran, as far as all the evidence showed, was sticking to the deal. As such, Trump broke a deal in which the other party was sticking to the terms. While this is the way of Trump, it certainly undermined the credibility of the United States and violated a basic principle of agreements, namely that they should be followed unless there is adequate justification to break them.
Trump and his supporters did allege that the deal was a bad one but tended to be short on evidence-based details regarding exactly why the United States should break this agreement. Breaking the deal was, of course, consistent with Trump’s generally approach of undoing what Obama did. It was also consistent with his vision of himself as the master deal maker. This leads to the obvious question of whether Trump’s deal is better than Obama’s deal. If Trump secured a better deal, then it would be reasonable to consider Trump’s claims that he is a skilled deal maker and that he needed to break the old Iran deal—presumably because he can get a better deal.
While it is better that Trump and Kim are talking and not engaged in war, the deal Trump has worked out seems to be worse than the Iran deal. This point is, obviously enough, a contentious one: Trump’s supporters will assert that Trump got the better deal; his most devoted detractors will simply insist on the opposite. However, it is possible to compare the deals point by point to see were they differ and Trump supporters need to argue why the attacks on the Iran deal would not also apply to the North Korea deal and show it to be as bad (or as good). As with all matters political, it could be contended that whether the deal is better or worse does not matter, what matters is the perception of the base and how it impacts upcoming elections in the United States. However, the possibility of a nuclear conflict should make this a matter of greater concern that transcends the scoring of short-term political points. Sadly, the Iran deal shows that this is not the case. A possible reply is to point out that perhaps the meeting will result in North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons.
The obvious concern here, one that is always raised when a country is asked to give up a nuclear weapon program, is that the country is well-aware that its nuclear program is the reason it is being offered a deal. I will look at this matter using two different analogies.
One way to look at it is analogous to a person who has something of great value, like money. Other people want to make deals to get that money (or just take it). However, if the money runs out, then there is no longer any reason to make deals. Or stick to past deals. Unless, of course, that person was able to get more money in the future.
The same would seem to apply to a nuclear program—if North Korea gives up its weapons, then there would no longer be any reason to make nuclear deals with them—or keep past deals. Unless, of course, North Korea was able to get more nuclear weapons in the future. Given the past references to basing the North Korea deal on the Libya model (in which Kaddafi ended up being sodomize with a bayonet and then killed), perhaps this is Trump’s plan—to play Kim until he can bayonet him.
Another way to look at the matter is analogous to a person who has a drug or alcohol addiction—they have something bad that makes them terrible. In this case, the point of a “deal” is to get them to be rid of the drugs. In this case, the person making the deal has an incentive to keep dealing to keep the addict from going back to the drugs. The addict thus has an incentive to stay clean, assuming the deal is better than the drugs. This deal might, for example, involve being able to stay in a relationship or keep a job.
In the case of North Korea, perhaps Kim wants something that he is willing to give up his weapons for, such as membership in the international community. That is, he is like the addict who wants to go and stay clean to get into a relationship that requires him to be clear.
As a closing point, it is worth noting that Kim might simply be playing Trump and the United States and that he has no intention of yielding anything of value. Other than stroking Trump’s ego, of course.