Did fire, fury and insults bring Little Rocket Man to the bargaining table? And are crippling sanctions working on lame North Korea?
The president took a lot of missile heat for taunting North Korea’s pumpkin-headed despot, and as he mercilessly used his Twitter stick to beat some sense into Pyongyang, Rex Tillerson was stroking little Kim with a carrot that created a very confusing dynamic.
If South Korea can in fact bring its petulant neighbor to the bargaining barn to denuclearize and reconjoin, you can credit that confusion and the president's unorthodox approach.
What does North Korea want? The same thing South Korea wants: to knit the Korean peninsula back together again and reunite kissin’ cousins.
That's impossible to do when you're scared the U.S. is going to unleash holy hell, and an even greater impossibility when your people are so hungry they don't have the strength to raise their weapons in defense.
Kim Jong Un and his family have long known fear is a useful tool, as they have scared their people to death for decades, and the U.S. president has used that terror against him.
Strategic patience doesn't instill fear; it buys time so madmen can tinker in garages with hot glue guns and uranium long enough to build a small and effective arsenal.
If there is a method to this unpredictability, if Kim Jong Un responds because he's hungry and scared, it makes strategic patience look really dumb.
There is no reason to trust North Korea on this or any other point as they have lied their way through negotiations and abandoned every scrap of goodwill thrown to them. We will see if chaos brings peace, but it beats the heck out of complacency and bullets.