Blogs: The Skeptics

Trump Goes from Afghanistan War Skeptic to True Believer

Trump Doesn't Want the Same Old Options from the Pentagon on Afghanistan

Why U.S. Sanctions Are Unlikely to Deter North Korea

The Skeptics

But one of the biggest reasons why Kim hasn’t been interested in negotiating is because the international community is demanding much, much more than what the North Koreans would even contemplate. Denuclearization, or what Ambassador Haley has expressed as “a stable Korean peninsula, at peace, without nuclear weapons,” sounds great for Americans, Europeans, and even Chinese, but it doesn’t sound particularly appealing to the North Korean officers goose-stepping in the central square of North Korea’s capital or the senior minister in Kim’s government. For a country with a GDP half the size of Vermont, whose conventional military is antiquated compared to its prosperous and ideological rival to the south, surrounded by much stronger neighbors with dynamic economies, North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is about all Pyongyang can boast about. To any other nation, nukes are a deterrent; to North Korea, it’s a deterrent as well as an integral part of its society—something of such importance that nuclear weapons are codified in the constitution.

Combine the emotional and symbolic impact of nukes and ICBM’s with the paranoia and deep appreciation of history that’s ingrained in the Kim dynasty’s psyche, and one needs to question whether the most generous agreement Washington can offer or the tightest economic embargo that the international community can assemble would even be enough to force Kim to dismantle his programs. We may have reached the precipice where negotiations with the North Korean regime about denuclearization is out of question. Although a cap on Pyonygang’s nuclear arsenal, a suspension of its missile development, and a moratorium on its ballistic missile testing could be within reason, there doesn’t appear to be much hope for dismantling every square inch of North Korea’s enrichment and plutonium facilities and a decommissioning of the nukes it already possesses.

The Trump administration was dealt a terrible hand on the North Korean nuclear problem. But it will only get worse if Trump and his national-security team continue to base their policy on denuclearization, which has gone from a realistic option to a mythical unicorn over the past twenty-five years.

Daniel R. DePetris is a fellow at Defense Priorities.

Image: Reuters

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Trump Must Tread Carefully with Preventative War in North Korea

The Skeptics

But one of the biggest reasons why Kim hasn’t been interested in negotiating is because the international community is demanding much, much more than what the North Koreans would even contemplate. Denuclearization, or what Ambassador Haley has expressed as “a stable Korean peninsula, at peace, without nuclear weapons,” sounds great for Americans, Europeans, and even Chinese, but it doesn’t sound particularly appealing to the North Korean officers goose-stepping in the central square of North Korea’s capital or the senior minister in Kim’s government. For a country with a GDP half the size of Vermont, whose conventional military is antiquated compared to its prosperous and ideological rival to the south, surrounded by much stronger neighbors with dynamic economies, North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is about all Pyongyang can boast about. To any other nation, nukes are a deterrent; to North Korea, it’s a deterrent as well as an integral part of its society—something of such importance that nuclear weapons are codified in the constitution.

Combine the emotional and symbolic impact of nukes and ICBM’s with the paranoia and deep appreciation of history that’s ingrained in the Kim dynasty’s psyche, and one needs to question whether the most generous agreement Washington can offer or the tightest economic embargo that the international community can assemble would even be enough to force Kim to dismantle his programs. We may have reached the precipice where negotiations with the North Korean regime about denuclearization is out of question. Although a cap on Pyonygang’s nuclear arsenal, a suspension of its missile development, and a moratorium on its ballistic missile testing could be within reason, there doesn’t appear to be much hope for dismantling every square inch of North Korea’s enrichment and plutonium facilities and a decommissioning of the nukes it already possesses.

The Trump administration was dealt a terrible hand on the North Korean nuclear problem. But it will only get worse if Trump and his national-security team continue to base their policy on denuclearization, which has gone from a realistic option to a mythical unicorn over the past twenty-five years.

Daniel R. DePetris is a fellow at Defense Priorities.

Image: Reuters

Pages

Trump's Crisis of Authority

The Skeptics

But one of the biggest reasons why Kim hasn’t been interested in negotiating is because the international community is demanding much, much more than what the North Koreans would even contemplate. Denuclearization, or what Ambassador Haley has expressed as “a stable Korean peninsula, at peace, without nuclear weapons,” sounds great for Americans, Europeans, and even Chinese, but it doesn’t sound particularly appealing to the North Korean officers goose-stepping in the central square of North Korea’s capital or the senior minister in Kim’s government. For a country with a GDP half the size of Vermont, whose conventional military is antiquated compared to its prosperous and ideological rival to the south, surrounded by much stronger neighbors with dynamic economies, North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is about all Pyongyang can boast about. To any other nation, nukes are a deterrent; to North Korea, it’s a deterrent as well as an integral part of its society—something of such importance that nuclear weapons are codified in the constitution.

Combine the emotional and symbolic impact of nukes and ICBM’s with the paranoia and deep appreciation of history that’s ingrained in the Kim dynasty’s psyche, and one needs to question whether the most generous agreement Washington can offer or the tightest economic embargo that the international community can assemble would even be enough to force Kim to dismantle his programs. We may have reached the precipice where negotiations with the North Korean regime about denuclearization is out of question. Although a cap on Pyonygang’s nuclear arsenal, a suspension of its missile development, and a moratorium on its ballistic missile testing could be within reason, there doesn’t appear to be much hope for dismantling every square inch of North Korea’s enrichment and plutonium facilities and a decommissioning of the nukes it already possesses.

The Trump administration was dealt a terrible hand on the North Korean nuclear problem. But it will only get worse if Trump and his national-security team continue to base their policy on denuclearization, which has gone from a realistic option to a mythical unicorn over the past twenty-five years.

Daniel R. DePetris is a fellow at Defense Priorities.

Image: Reuters

Pages

Pages