When you make a promise to someone, it has to count for something. Without your word, you do not have a whole lot to stand on when you are interacting with people. This is a lesson that most children learn very early. They learn not to lie, they learn no to deceive people, and they learn not to break their promises. Of course, when people fail to learn this lesson, bad things start to happen. The whole system falls apart, mistrust and all its insidious cousins managing to settle in and fester. We should, if at all possible, avoid such a situation whenever we are dealing with international relations, the implications of which can mean the difference between life and death, prosperity and destruction, peace and war.
By not meeting with Kim Jong Un, Donald Trump has created a serious danger for the United States and in turn the world. Just as monumental as he claimed the results of his planned talks would have been, the failure to make those talks happen has damaged United States credibility yet again, creating an air of legitimacy around the North Korean regime, which is now in a better position than ever to start a war in Asia that could claims countless lives.
The thing is, the status quo was not good. That much everyone can agree on. Kim Jong Un was set to continue stirring up trouble periodically, making bellicose threats until he received some sort of payment or aid from the global community, basically acting like a pirate on a world scale. What Donald Trump has done is upset that status quo, destroying the pattern as it was set and opening the door to horrors the likes of which no one can accurately predict. By taking North Korea to the brink, promising to hold a meeting and then failing to do so, Donald Trump made it difficult for Kim Jong Un to save face, essentially removing an incentive not to make any real attacks.
Rather than overtures to war, we now stand on the cup of war itself. With the previous status quo, we can now see clearly that war was always two steps ahead of us, and after Donald Trump broke his promise to speak with the North Korean dictator, choosing instead to further antagonize a mysterious and potentially erratic foe, he placed us all within the crosshairs of not a pistol, not a rifle, but a nuclear arsenal, one that we know to exist, one that he knew to exist at the time. To call this reckless would be an affront to those who are able to contain their actions to mere recklessness: what Donald Trump did by not meeting with Kim Jong Un makes him nothing short of culpable should war break out on the Korean peninsula.
Donald Trump had a choice: swallow his pride and stick to his word or play Russian roulette with an autocrat who has proven himself all-too-willing to risk his own people’s lives for his own gain. He chose the latter, and now it is all our heads, every world citizen, up against the barrel of the gun, just hoping that neither his nor Kim Jong Un’s finger slips to the detriment of us all.