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As Chinese President Xi Jinping's first summit with U.S. President Donald Trump takes place at Trump's luxurious Florida estate Mar-a-Lago, at least part of the discussion will invariably focus on one of the world's most impoverished places: North Korea. Despite more than two decades of on-again, off-again negotiations, North Korea's nuclear weapons program is pushing the world toward a strategic watershed much like the one that the West faced 60 years ago, when the United States and the Soviet Union faced off against each other in Europe.The U.S., with its monopoly on nuclear weapons, could launch a nuclear strike from Europe on the Soviet homeland.Was it credible that, in response to an attack on Western Europe, the U.S. would make war on the Soviet Union, thus inviting a nuclear attack on its own territory?As the Soviet nuclear arsenal grew, the U.S. government ruled out defense against a missile attack: Because it could not deflect every incoming nuclear explosive, it would be safer if neither side tried to build ballistic missile defenses.The U.S. and its Asian allies have the same four options as the Atlantic Alliance had 60 years ago.They can attempt to live with North Korean long-range nuclear missiles, relying on deterrence. An East Asia in which several countries possessed nuclear weapons would not necessarily be stable.
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