The Singapore summit has come and gone, and though the fact that it was convened at all is important in its own right, the bigger question is whether anything can come from it. North Korea has devoted substantial resources to its nuclear weapons program, apparently stopping just short of successfully testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that could strike the U.S. mainland. In other words, Washington’s red line has yet to be crossed. Considering the U.S. response – war – would have been costly and inconclusive, this was an enormous relief to the United States.
And so a sort of stalemate has emerged. North Korea has a regional nuclear capability that the United States will not destroy militarily. The U.S. retains its own massive military capability, along with forces in South Korea, Japan and the waters near North Korea. If North Korea acts aggressively, it forces a U.S. response. If the U.S. acts aggressively, it forces a North Korean response. Neither response is