Confidence in Personal Chemistry Mustn’t Trump Hard Reality

Arms control is, as the British whit Samuel Johnson once said of second marriages, “the triumph of hope over experience.”  The new accord signed today by President Trump and North Korea’s dictator might described as the triumph of confidence in personal chemistry over hard reality.

Mr. Trump has invested before in relationships with foreign leaders, with uneven results. It very much remains to be seen whether his bonding with one of the world’s most ruthless and least reliable dictators will turn out better.

To his credit, though, the President has acknowledged that his press for North Korea’s complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization may not work out. As long as his pursuit of negotiations to that end is guided by the hard reality of our bad experience with previous arms control deals, particularly with North Korea, there may actually be reason for hope.