The House and Senate have spent the past two years staring down some of the most consequential political events of recent decades: the longest-ever government shutdown; a presidential impeachment; a deadly global pandemic; a deepening economic recession that has led to Depression-era levels of unemployment; a long-overdue national reckoning over race and police brutality; and growing tension with China and Iran and even Saudi Arabia.
North Korea blew up a diplomacy office building in Kaesong, located at the border between North and South Korea. North Korea said those actions were provoked by South Korean activists who had sent leaflets critical of Kim Jong Un across the border.
White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien tells Axios that the Trump administration has "reached out to the North Koreans" to ask them to resume diplomacy that has been all but dead since October.
President Trump entered the new year facing flare-ups of long-burning crises with two old adversaries — Iran and North Korea — that are directly challenging his claim to have reasserted American power around the world.
Before that obsession takes over, it is worth glancing forward into the four most important stories elsewhere in the world to watch in the coming year. These international events will have as much to say about the course of global affairs as will the presidential election here:
President Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, has criticized the administration’s efforts to broker the denuclearization of North Korea, saying they have been “more rhetorical” than real policy.
In his sharpest criticism yet of his old workplace, John Bolton suggested the Trump administration is bluffing about stopping North Korea's nuclear ambitions — and soon might need to admit publicly that its policy failed badly.
President Trump’s transactional approach to foreign policy assumes that everything has a price. The problem for him in his nuclear gamble with North Korea is that Kim Jong Un may not be buying. In a blunt put-down Monday, North Korea rejected what a senior adviser to Kim called another “fruitless” one-on-one with Trump. It was the latest reminder that Trump’s open-door policy for bargaining with authoritarians means those leaders can slam the door in his face.