Don’t let Kim portray United States as villain in North Korea situation

There are very few sure bets in international relations.

But one is that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has no intention of slowing his headlong drive to become a threat to world peace. In fact, it is highly unlikely Kim will make meaningful changes in any of his domestic or international policies.

Why should he?

Repression at home and aggression outside North Korea’s borders have served the Kim dynasty well for two-thirds of a century. Why change now?

Just hours after threatening to attack the United States with nuclear missiles, Kim this week attempted to drive a wedge between officials in Washington and leaders of South Korea. He reopened a communications channel closed two years ago, and suggested he might send North Korean athletes to the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Clearly, Kim wants both South Koreans and the international community to view him as a peacemaker. Meanwhile, his weapons buildup will continue.

It is a strategy North Korean leaders have used time and time again — successfully. While President Trump and other U.S. officials should not fall for it, they also ought to prevent Kim from portraying this country as a villain.

That means a public offer of negotiations regarding our countries’ differences, while intensifying economic sanctions against North Korea and continuing to prepare for conflict, should it occur.

Make no mistake about it: Kim ranks among the most evil, dangerous leaders in the world. Allowing him to seed doubt about that in anyone’s mind would be an error.

As for the exchange of rants between Kim and Trump regarding nuclear buttons, portrayal of this as evidence of recklessness by the president misses the larger point.

Several presidents have tried doing the soft shoe with North Korea. The result has been the United States pretty much being spat upon in the court of international opinion.

It’s entirely the correct approach for Trump to let Kim know the days of intimidating the United States are over.