Trump’s triumph in Singapore was a success for humanity because it precluded war and bought time for the world to accept a nuclear-armed North Korea. While it was not the success that he believes, the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, it was a success. Let me state clearly:

First, North Korea will never give up its nuclear weapons. No state that has actual possessed the technology has ever given it up, the weapons represent an enormous investment of national resources, and they bestow incredible political, diplomatic, and military power. Kim Jong In has already seen the benefits of that power. And, the initiating of war will mean the deaths of tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands.

Second, Trump is dismantling the post-World War II order that the United States built. America’s allies, the British, French, Germans, Japanese, South Koreans, should recognize this and develop new security relationships, technologies, and strategies. Since World War II they have grown too depended on the United States for their security and too passive in world affairs.

And third, the genie is out of the bottle. The proliferation of nuclear weapons will continue, and, as any knowledgeable student of history will know, war is in human nature. Human history is the history of war. We cannot avoid it. Nuclear weapons will be used again against people, but for now, we have a reprieve. 

Adrian Lewis is Professor of History at the University of Kansas. He has taught at the Naval War College and at West Point, and is a retired United States Army Major. He is the author of The American Culture of War and Omaha Beach: A Flawed Victory.


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