Kim Jong Un’s quest for a nuclear bomb that can hit the continental United States will test President Donald Trump’s deepest instincts and define America’s position in the world.
Will he opt for diplomacy or war? Mr Trump could fall back on deterrence and containment.
- deterrence 威慑
- containment （对另一个国家力量的）遏制
But that would leave American cities vulnerable to a North Korean strike.
Or he could break with the past and use force, risking war and a catastrophic loss of life in north-east Asia.
Mr Trump’s choice will test America’s alliances with South Korea and Japan, while around the world other partners will study how he weighs their interests.
The president’s choice will also shape the century-defining relationship between America and China: the two superpowers could end up working together more closely, or fighting each other.
For 25 years American presidents have been able to avoid choosing between diplomacy and military action.
Mr Trump does not have that luxury.