As of Dec. 26, Kim Jong-un’s “Christmas gift” to President Donald Trump had not arrived. Most foreign policy analysts predict it will be a missile test more impressive than any Pyongyang has yet carried off.
What is Kim’s game? What does Kim want?
He cannot want war with the United States, as this could result in the annihilation of the Kim family dynasty that has ruled North Korea since World War II. Kim is all about self-preservation.
What he appears to want in his confrontation with Trump is a victory without war. In the near-term, Kim seeks three things: recognition of his regime as the legitimate government of North Korea and its acceptance in all the forums of the world, trade and an end to all U.S. and U.N. sanctions, and a nuclear arsenal sufficient to deter a U.S. attack, including missiles that can strike U.S. bases in South Korea, Japan, Guam and the Western Pacific. And he seeks the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead on the U.S. mainland.
Nor is this last goal unreasonable from Kim’s vantage point.
For he knows what became of the two other nations of George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” that failed to develop nuclear weapons.
Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was invaded, and he was hanged and his sons hunted down and killed.
The ayatollah’s Iran negotiated a 2015 nuclear deal with America and opened up its nuclear facilities to intrusive inspections to show that Tehran did not have a nuclear weapons program.
Trump came to power, trashed the deal, reimposed sanctions and is choking Iran to death.
Moammar Gadhafi surrendered his WMD in 2004 and opened up his production facilities. And in 2011, the U.S. attacked Libya and Gadhafi was lynched by a mob.
Contrast the fate of these regimes and rulers with the Kim family’s success. His father, Kim Jong-il, tested nuclear weapons and missiles in defiance of U.S. warnings, and now the son is invited to summits with the U.S. president in Singapore and Hanoi.