In the 1960s, John F. Kennedy was facing the threat of nuclear weapons within striking distance of the United States. The Soviet forward-deployment forced America to stop Russia’s advance, just 90 miles from the homeland. Brinksmanship brought Kennedy “eyeball to eyeball” with Nikita Khrushchev. It was the Soviet president who blinked.
Fast forward to 2017. President Trump will not be the one who blinks, but someone else might. If it is Kim Jong-un, then the game of chicken and nuclear confrontation has paid off for this U.S. administration. The real challenge in this crisis, however, faces not Kim but his patron in Beijing.
Indeed, the real question in 2017 is whether Chinese President Xi Jinping will blink.