Friday, April 05, 2013

It’s time to stop dancing with North Korea

North Korean soldiers on parade in Pyongyang
The international community’s current approach of arm’s-length talks, sanctions and incentives has failed for a decade 

Once again, we are witnessing an escalation in the Korean Peninsula that we all know has the potential for disaster should things spin out of control. And yet, once again, the major actors in Pyongyang, Seoul, Washington, Tokyo and New York, remain wedded to old practices that are known to have failed, with the result that North Korea today remains the same threat to regional, if not global, security that it was a decade ago. 

It is said that only the insane repeat the same act over and over again with the expectation of different outcomes. In the present case, however, its seems the international community is intent on maintaining policies that have failed with the hope that the outcome will remain the same — that is, a period of escalation, the sting of the stick, followed by the offering of carrots and, finally, de-escalation. 

But given the instability of the regime in Pyongyang, we cannot assume that whoever is in charge — Kim Jong-un or greying militarists, we’re not sure — will keep dancing. In other words, the recurrent cycle of escalation, each time more threatening than the last, is too dangerous for politicians to expect that decision-makers in Pyongyang will act rationally. 

My op-ed, published today in the Ottawa Citizen, continues here.

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