Unless we believe Kim is a suicidal madman, his goal seems clear. He wants what every nuclear power wants – the ability to strike his enemy's homeland with horrific impact, in order to deter that enemy.
Kim wants his regime recognized and respected, and the U.S., which carpet-bombed the North from 1950-1953, out of Korea.
Where does this leave us? Says Cliff Kupchan of the Eurasia Group, "The U.S. is on the verge of a binary choice: either accept North Korea into the nuclear club or conduct a military strike that would entail enormous civilian casualties."
A time for truth. U.S. sanctions on North Korea, like those voted for by Congress last week, are not going to stop Kim from acquiring ICBMs. He is too close to the goal line.
And any pre-emptive strike on the North could trigger a counterattack on Seoul by massed artillery on the DMZ, leaving tens of thousands of South Koreans dead, alongside U.S. soldiers and their dependents.
We could be in an all-out war to the finish with the North, a war the American people do not want to fight.
Saturday, President Trump tweeted out his frustration over China's failure to pull our chestnuts out of the fire: "They do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem."