There appears to be an air of optimism surrounding the summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, set to take place in just a few hours in Singapore. Discussions have progressed “more quickly than expected,” according to an official statement issued by the White House. North Korean state media have reported that in addition to the obvious discussions of denuclearization, Kim would focus on building U.S.-North Korea relations. Indeed, Western news agencies have speculated that the United States and North Korea have made so much progress that it is beginning to worry China, heretofore the designated middleman between the two sides.
The optimism is understandable. Yes, a meeting such as this is unprecedented, so it’s tempting to conclude that a major change is in the offing. But the optimism is a little premature. North Korea and the United States still view the world in fundamentally different terms. In fact, they can’t even agree on the definitions of the terms. To Wash
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