There are no easy solutions to pursue in North Korea. This article describes the problem and it offers a solution that might work in the long term. It argues that the US should spend more on programs that raise consciousness in North Korea in order to promote an internal revolution against the repressive regime. US sanctions have been harmful to North Korea's economy. The population suffers from the sanctions but its leaders do not. We should make it more difficult for the leaders to use the funds that they have accumulated through corruption.
In theory, the sanctions which primarily punish the citizens of North Korea, should create the conditions for regime change. The repressive regime has responded by becoming more repressive. It has also used Trump's threat of a military attack as a weapon to bolster the regime. Its leaders, and access to nuclear weapons, provides assurance against military intervention by the US.
The US has been following a strategy for many years that has not worked. It has made bargains with the regime that have been broke . They did not prevent the development of missiles and nuclear capability. North Korea now holds South Korea and Japan as hostages against a US preemptive attack. North Korea would unleash nuclear attacks against them if they were attacked. China has also taken a position against a preemptive attack. It has declared that the first nation to use nuclear weapons would become their enemy.
The Trump administration seems to be promoting a good cop versus bad cop strategy that might give Trump enough leverage to strike a better deal with North Korea. Trump is the bad cop who threatens a military attack and Tillerson is the good cop who will offer a deal that saves them from the bad cop.
Trump can then boast about the better deal that he made. North Korea will give up its nuclear development in response to Trump's threats. Thus far, that strategy has primarily worked in favor of the repressive regime which defends the population from a new devil.
The dilemma for the US, and other nations, is that the risk of nuclear war has been elevated and bargaining with North Korea has not curtailed its nuclear build up. The long term strategy, advocated in this article, does little to reduce the elevated risk and it may not lead to an internal revolution against the repressive regime.
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