Blogs: The Skeptics

North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Test: 12 Lessons from Kim Jong-un's Latest Challenge

The Skeptics

9. The U.S. has different interests than its Northeast Asian allies. Geography forces South Korea and Japan to be concerned about the North. And the DPRK must deal with Seoul and Tokyo. America’s involvement is entirely voluntary. Strong economic, cultural, and personal ties between the Republic of Korea and America do not translate into security interests. More than six decades after the Korean War and a quarter century after the end of the Cold War, Washington’s military guarantee is more an act of welfare for the ROK than defense of America.

10. As Pyongyang’s ability to inflict nuclear pain increases, so does the potential cost to the U.S. of its promise to defend the South. Given South Korea’s ability to take over its conventional defense, Washington should bring home its garrison. There is no reason for America to turn its military personnel, unnecessary to guard a nation with 40 times the GDP and twice the population of its northern antagonist, into nuclear hostages.

11. The U.S. must decide whether extended nuclear deterrence makes sense, that is, whether Americans are prepared to sacrifice Los Angeles for Seoul. An alternative would be for South Korea and Japan to threaten to build countervailing nuclear deterrents—which would have the added advantage of encouraging the PRC to act against North Korea. Obviously there are downsides to such a course, but nuclear involvement in an unstable Northeast Asia could end up being far costlier to America.

12. Whoever wins the election must consider a course change. The Obama administration’s refusal to talk with the DPRK unless it takes steps toward nuclear disarmament has proved to be a dead-end. Washington needs to open communication channels. While expectations should be low, the North might be willing to offer some concessions in order to improve economic growth, one of its stated priorities. And such an approach at least would increase the possibility of inducing China to apply greater pressure on the DPRK.

North Korea is well on its way to becoming a serious nuclear power. The status quo is a wreck. U.S. policy has failed. As President Obama told us eight years ago, it is time for a change. Certainly that is the case when it comes to America’s dealings with Pyongyang.                                                                        

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World and co-author of The Korean Conundrum: America’s Troubled Relations with North and South Korea. You can follow him on Twitter: @Doug_Bandow.

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America's Hypocrisy on Foreign 'Provocations'

The Skeptics

9. The U.S. has different interests than its Northeast Asian allies. Geography forces South Korea and Japan to be concerned about the North. And the DPRK must deal with Seoul and Tokyo. America’s involvement is entirely voluntary. Strong economic, cultural, and personal ties between the Republic of Korea and America do not translate into security interests. More than six decades after the Korean War and a quarter century after the end of the Cold War, Washington’s military guarantee is more an act of welfare for the ROK than defense of America.

10. As Pyongyang’s ability to inflict nuclear pain increases, so does the potential cost to the U.S. of its promise to defend the South. Given South Korea’s ability to take over its conventional defense, Washington should bring home its garrison. There is no reason for America to turn its military personnel, unnecessary to guard a nation with 40 times the GDP and twice the population of its northern antagonist, into nuclear hostages.

11. The U.S. must decide whether extended nuclear deterrence makes sense, that is, whether Americans are prepared to sacrifice Los Angeles for Seoul. An alternative would be for South Korea and Japan to threaten to build countervailing nuclear deterrents—which would have the added advantage of encouraging the PRC to act against North Korea. Obviously there are downsides to such a course, but nuclear involvement in an unstable Northeast Asia could end up being far costlier to America.

12. Whoever wins the election must consider a course change. The Obama administration’s refusal to talk with the DPRK unless it takes steps toward nuclear disarmament has proved to be a dead-end. Washington needs to open communication channels. While expectations should be low, the North might be willing to offer some concessions in order to improve economic growth, one of its stated priorities. And such an approach at least would increase the possibility of inducing China to apply greater pressure on the DPRK.

North Korea is well on its way to becoming a serious nuclear power. The status quo is a wreck. U.S. policy has failed. As President Obama told us eight years ago, it is time for a change. Certainly that is the case when it comes to America’s dealings with Pyongyang.                                                                        

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World and co-author of The Korean Conundrum: America’s Troubled Relations with North and South Korea. You can follow him on Twitter: @Doug_Bandow.

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Why America and China Today Are Like Pre–World War I Europe

The Skeptics

9. The U.S. has different interests than its Northeast Asian allies. Geography forces South Korea and Japan to be concerned about the North. And the DPRK must deal with Seoul and Tokyo. America’s involvement is entirely voluntary. Strong economic, cultural, and personal ties between the Republic of Korea and America do not translate into security interests. More than six decades after the Korean War and a quarter century after the end of the Cold War, Washington’s military guarantee is more an act of welfare for the ROK than defense of America.

10. As Pyongyang’s ability to inflict nuclear pain increases, so does the potential cost to the U.S. of its promise to defend the South. Given South Korea’s ability to take over its conventional defense, Washington should bring home its garrison. There is no reason for America to turn its military personnel, unnecessary to guard a nation with 40 times the GDP and twice the population of its northern antagonist, into nuclear hostages.

11. The U.S. must decide whether extended nuclear deterrence makes sense, that is, whether Americans are prepared to sacrifice Los Angeles for Seoul. An alternative would be for South Korea and Japan to threaten to build countervailing nuclear deterrents—which would have the added advantage of encouraging the PRC to act against North Korea. Obviously there are downsides to such a course, but nuclear involvement in an unstable Northeast Asia could end up being far costlier to America.

12. Whoever wins the election must consider a course change. The Obama administration’s refusal to talk with the DPRK unless it takes steps toward nuclear disarmament has proved to be a dead-end. Washington needs to open communication channels. While expectations should be low, the North might be willing to offer some concessions in order to improve economic growth, one of its stated priorities. And such an approach at least would increase the possibility of inducing China to apply greater pressure on the DPRK.

North Korea is well on its way to becoming a serious nuclear power. The status quo is a wreck. U.S. policy has failed. As President Obama told us eight years ago, it is time for a change. Certainly that is the case when it comes to America’s dealings with Pyongyang.                                                                        

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World and co-author of The Korean Conundrum: America’s Troubled Relations with North and South Korea. You can follow him on Twitter: @Doug_Bandow.

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Should America Be More Willing to Go to War?

The Skeptics

9. The U.S. has different interests than its Northeast Asian allies. Geography forces South Korea and Japan to be concerned about the North. And the DPRK must deal with Seoul and Tokyo. America’s involvement is entirely voluntary. Strong economic, cultural, and personal ties between the Republic of Korea and America do not translate into security interests. More than six decades after the Korean War and a quarter century after the end of the Cold War, Washington’s military guarantee is more an act of welfare for the ROK than defense of America.

10. As Pyongyang’s ability to inflict nuclear pain increases, so does the potential cost to the U.S. of its promise to defend the South. Given South Korea’s ability to take over its conventional defense, Washington should bring home its garrison. There is no reason for America to turn its military personnel, unnecessary to guard a nation with 40 times the GDP and twice the population of its northern antagonist, into nuclear hostages.

11. The U.S. must decide whether extended nuclear deterrence makes sense, that is, whether Americans are prepared to sacrifice Los Angeles for Seoul. An alternative would be for South Korea and Japan to threaten to build countervailing nuclear deterrents—which would have the added advantage of encouraging the PRC to act against North Korea. Obviously there are downsides to such a course, but nuclear involvement in an unstable Northeast Asia could end up being far costlier to America.

12. Whoever wins the election must consider a course change. The Obama administration’s refusal to talk with the DPRK unless it takes steps toward nuclear disarmament has proved to be a dead-end. Washington needs to open communication channels. While expectations should be low, the North might be willing to offer some concessions in order to improve economic growth, one of its stated priorities. And such an approach at least would increase the possibility of inducing China to apply greater pressure on the DPRK.

North Korea is well on its way to becoming a serious nuclear power. The status quo is a wreck. U.S. policy has failed. As President Obama told us eight years ago, it is time for a change. Certainly that is the case when it comes to America’s dealings with Pyongyang.                                                                        

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World and co-author of The Korean Conundrum: America’s Troubled Relations with North and South Korea. You can follow him on Twitter: @Doug_Bandow.

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