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Nuclear North Korea
No More “Strategic Patience” on North Korea
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  • ——————————

    Let’s just punch the bully in the face and move on…it works every time.

    I wonder…how many college-educated, deep thinkers did it take for us to get this situation to the point we are at with it now?….

    • D4x

      “how many college-educated, deep thinkers did it take” is the new “how many ____ does it take to screw in a lightbulb”!

      • ——————————


    • RedWell

      It’s true. It only takes one or two short-sighted, ahistorical decision makers to rush to war. No degrees required.

      • Angel Martin

        Philippe Petain is that you ?

      • ——————————


        Okay, let’s continue to college-educated historians, analysts, consultants, and think tanks to over-think this situation for another 20 years and see what happens…and let’s do that for the Iran situation too….


    Clinton had the opportunity to show that he really has the interest and security of America first. He chose not to help Bush during the entire Iraq episode especially concerning Iraq’s possession of WMD’s. Clinton thought Saddam had them too and he chose to let Bush take the blame for everything. Kerry was not the only one who said ” I was for the war before I was against it.” So I would not hold my breath waiting for Clinton to do the right thing even on something as simple as this. And Obama is never wrong. just ask him.

  • lukelea

    It goes back to Bill Clinton’s administration. The list of poor policy decisions grows longer as time passes and we see their long-term consequences: free trade with China, end of immigration enforcement, and failure to nip Osama bin Ladin in the bud (ok, he was distracted by Ken Star’s insane prosecution) are three that come immediately to mind. Are there others?

  • D4x

    No one should hold their breath waiting for former POTI to publicly agree that “strategic patience” has failed. Yes, I know that POTI is NOT plural for POTUS-es, just sounds better: Presidents of the Internationale.

    The timeline is PeyongChang2018 Olympics start Feb. 9, 2018. Best if any final good faith effort be under UN auspices, as was Korean War, technically.

  • Suzy Dixon

    Good. Let’s hope theyre serious – finally. The “six party talks” ended in catastrophic failure with a nuclear blast.
    Talking is just a Chinese and NK diversion and manipulation to do more tests.
    The Chinese are waging economic war on SK right now to help NK.

    • KremlinKryptonite

      Yes, let’s hope so indeed. The regime in Beijing is very delusional.
      They are Kim’s supporters, friends, and enablers, yet pretend to be some sort of neutral observer. It’s the height of mental illness because anyone with a basic understanding of history and current events knows that’s not the case — at all

  • Nevis07

    Mr. Mead, it does finally seem to be coming to the end of the road. You correctly point out that NK learned what happens when they give up their nukes from the Libya debacle. I think it would be prudent then to consider the action or non-action of what Iran would learn from our response to North Korea.

    Would Iran (which is already violating the terms of the nuclear deal) see it as a green light or a red light if the US were to bomb and possibly invade NK?

    There are many dangers in either direction, but I feel like nobody is asking what choice injects stability back into the world order. While I abhor the idea that we may have to take serious military action and will cause many deaths, does does this military action represent a fighting of the smaller war so you don’t have to right the bigger war? Certainly, Iran, China and Russia would all take notice.

    There’s a hundred devil’s advocate arguments that could be made for either choice, but I feel like nobody is asking the repercussions of action versus non-action.

    • Nevis07

      Also, as a proxy debate: if Trump were to decide against military action, would his unpredictability seem much less of an issue for other leaders dealing with them? His unpredictability is at times an asset, just as it is also at times a liability. Military action would probably just further confirm that trait. Just something else to consider.

    • Dog Star

      I’m sure Neville Chamberlain would sympathize. And I evoke Chamberlain not necessarily as an argument for military action right-now-this-moment, but to point out the risks of not taking action at the right moment. People have been asking the question of action vs. non-action vis-á-vis the NK’s for twenty years as circumstances have evolved to the current situation, wherein NK stands on the cusp of having a credible ICBM threat to the continental U.S. Regardless of your question, which is valid, the status quo is intolerable and trending worse. At some point action will become necessary. Wishing it wasn’t so is no answer.

  • Angel Martin

    Instead of everyone in America worrying about what Kim Il Sung will do, we’ve finally got Kim Il Sung worrying about what America will do.

    (It took three generations of Kim Il Sung’s to get here, but Trump is the first President in about 200 years that doesn’t listen to Ivy League foreign policy “experts”)

    • PavlosX

      Yup. He listens to generals who know what it takes to put an end to the problem.

  • rheddles

    It’s a box we’re in. Seoul is hostage. There is no action we can take without placing it in jeopardy. So we won’t take action. The ball is in Pyongyang’s court. Our only leverage is trade with China. That’s too big to risk. Glad I don’t live on the west coast anymore.

  • Kevin

    Obama’s Libya intervention against Qaddafi was perhaps the worst action to prevent nuclear proliferation ever undertaken by the US government. The idea that the US will attack regimes that agree to rid he s lives of WMD’s is both dishonorable and insane. What foreign power would ever agree to give up nuclear weapons if we would subsequently attack them?

    • Charles Martel

      Exactly. Punishing a country and a leader who had given up WMD ambitions creates a massive incentive for other countries to never cooperate with anti-proliferation efforts. Time and time again, US pledges have been shown to be utterly unreliable. It’s incompetence on the grandest scale, and it’s been bipartisan, with Clinton, Bush and Obama all guilty.

      • Nevis07

        You guys are spot on. And to add to the irony it was done by the Europeans leaders and Obama who had all been the very ones who had bashed Bush for deposing Saddam. Then they turned around and did the same thing, creating another power vacuum for ISIS. You can’t make this stuff up…

    • Ram Firpo

      That’s the twisted policies you’d get with the Mother of Today’s Libya….”Hillary Rodham Clinton, ladies & gentlemen!”

  • Dhako

    I think this is Tillerson trying to “bounce”, or preemptively force, the new in-coming government of South Korea into a US’s agenda of confronting North-Korea. Furthermore, the “impending tilt” of South-Korea strategical posture on the back of the incoming new government towards China is also what he is trying to forestall in here. Moreover, the soon to be elected government of South Korea, have already “telegraphed” that they intent to “inaugurate” a new “sunshine policy” towards North Korea, with the view of resolving this Nuclear issue with North Korea, in which China will play a role far larger than what the South Korean are planning the eventual role of the Americans should be.

    Hence, it’s patently self-serving attempt to “restrict” the strategical room to maneuver in which that South-Korean’s government would have by the time they come to power after the election in May this year. Consequently, it’s Mr Tillerson way of saying, that the US has a “skin-in-the-game” in so far as the direction in which China and the soon to be elected left-ish government of South Korea will like to take this issue. And therefore, he is making a play for a “seat-at-the-table” once that new “sunshine policy” on the part of the South Korea takes shapes, with the help of China.

    In other words, he is in effect is saying, that it may be alright for China and the soon-to-be new government of South Korea to “cook-up” a deal or a plan to deal with North Korea’s nuclear issue. But do not think for a moment, that, the US will be side-lined from any solution that these powers come up. Least of all, we the Americans have a “strategical skin” in this game, in the form of US’s army that are present in South Korea, as well as the THAAD system that was recently installed in South Korea. Hence, it’s sort of thing I would expect from the US side to say it. And it’s intended to make a legitimate claim to a seat at the “diplomatic table” in which the likes of China and the soon-to-be new government of South Korea will be establishing soon, in-order to deal with this North Korea’s nuclear issue.

    Subsequently, although, that is understandable on the part of the US, but I think the Chinese and the new government of South Korea after the election, will have every reason to simply came up will a suitable kid’s table at the back-room, for the likes of Mr Tillerson, while, they, on the other hand, hush-out a proper deal with North Korea on the next room, with a more intimate table with only “three chairs”. This is how things is likely will go, provided, the new and soon-to-be elected government of South Korea understand that the deal to defang North Korea only comes through with Beijing’s blessings. And Uncle Sam (US) is genuinely superfluous to the requirement of that kind of a deal. And that would be the case, provided, the South-Koreans, are ready to get a bit more generous and imaginative (no less) in dealing with their brethren in North Korea through a new enhanced form of the old “Sunshine policies”, that is generous in spirit as well as magnanimous in implementation.

  • Proud Skeptic

    I’m really enjoying Rex Tillerson. Imagine being dropped down in the middle of a complete career change at this time in one’s life. He’s a bright guy who is still learning his way. Once he gets established he could be truly great.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I would rather we used the “Big Stick” on Iran first. Destroy Iran’s entire energy industry (would take years to rebuild if we let them), bitch slapping them back to the 7th century, on foot and in the dark. And then hold up their scalp as an opening bargaining position with our enemies. With that one brutal act, America might get all its enemies in a more reasonable frame of mind. And it would give a wake up call to the Islamic Culture, by showing them just how fragile modern civilization is, and that it can be taken away from them all (no lights, or cars, or utilities).

    • Josephbleau

      Yes, Iran needs to get it’s mind right.

    • PavlosX

      Trouble is, the NORKS are already there. Take a look at the country from satellite at night.

  • Stephen

    There could still be one last chance for a diplomatic solution, as Richard Haas lays out here. Calling for a final round of direct talks, even if they do not go anywhere, would demonstrate a good-faith effort to negotiate that could rally support for a more intense policy.

    WRM and AI are not seriously arguing that the US needs to demonstrate “good faith” after more than 20 years of good faith negotiations on nukes spanning multiple administrations. Does WRM and AI need more convincing? Why? If not you, then who and why? Would it make even the slightest difference? It is delusional to even suggest that it would. I would argue that if there is any bad faith on the US side, you see it in Hass. His only goal is to restrain the US…for the umpteenth time.

    Only Beijing and Pyongyang are capable of stopping the development of Nork’s nuclear program. But, as you’ve noted, they haven’t and they can’t. It’s time to stop pretending that isn’t the reality. It doesn’t mean we go to war. That is a choice that will be made in Pyongyang. It does mean that we proceed and acknowledge the failure of proliferation and take steps to encourage Japan, South Korea, to take steps in their own self-defense and provide absolute assurances for their security in the event of a Nork attack.

    Does this discomfit China? I hope so. They’ve played a deadly game using the North Korea for far too long. A war on the Korean peninsula would be far more catastrophic for them than for us. We’ve been acting as if it is the other way around and the Chinese have acted accordingly. Why would they do otherwise when despite all the tongue wagging, posturing and occasional sanctions, they profit from it? How are the worse off than they ever have been? China always wags its finger at Pyongyang just enough to get the likes of Hass and the writers of AI up for one more try. And like, ol’ Wiley E. Coyote, they think that the next time will be different.

    • Mark Hamilton

      I tend to agree. China can make North Korea behave. We can only do that at the margins, for a couple years, by paying Danegeld.

      Seems to me the North Korean regime is giving the US the perfect excuse to ramp up our collective security architecture in the Pacific. When China sees this happening, China is likely to reign in North Korea. A war, as devastating as it may be for South Korea, would be much worse for North Korea and create tremendous problems for China. This is a game of chicken we would win.

      It’s unfortunate that things have deteriorated to this point, but it would be nice of US policy makers would recognize that we hold the better hand.

      • Dhako

        Not true. The US has only the “cards” in which Seoul could only tolerate to be used on her behalf by the Yanks, in that “high diplomatic poker game” call the Korean peninsula. In other words, Seoul has a say of how much of a risky adventure the US is allowed to take in the Korean peninsula. And in that sense, all the bluster and the empty braggadocio of Mr Tillerson comes with a “line-item-veto” from the leadership of South Korea, particularly when it comes to making good of that bluster.

        After all, if a shooting war takes place in the Korean’s peninsula, it will be the likes of Seoul, which will be reduced to ashes by North Koreans missiles. Hence, it may be a novelty to any Trump’s supporters, but, other nations don’t mortgage their future destiny or their survival by taking a fancy flutter on the assumption that says the likes of Trump’s administration’s empty bluster is made of solid. Or it’s wise to allow this US government to start a shooting war at your behest, at least nominally. Particularly, considering that fact the current US government effectively told every other nation in the world to look after their own interests, since, Trump’s administration is only in the business for America’s first view of the world.

        Which means, expect the South Koreans to say to Trump’s government, thanks, but no thanks. For we aren’t eager to a casualty of North Korean aggression, if we could find any other way of stopping that than your way of making South Korea the casualty of your agenda of confronting the North Korean. And since China seems to “offering” a better solution than your kind of “gun-blazing-cow-boyish-high-noon-stand-off-sort of-solution”, then if it’s alright with you we will go with the Chinese solution, whatever it will be, when it eventually emerge from our deliberation with Beijing.

        This is reality of that Korean peninsula. Or it will be once this May election in South Korea is out of the way. And if you are half-intelligent enough (although as a Trump’s voter, that is a “dicey proposition”, to say the least) then you will see, that, in strategical speaking, the US has only the “cards” in which South Korea allows them to have in this “stand-off”, and nothing more, indeed.

        • Mark Hamilton

          Thanks for sharing your Trump fetish. The next four years are going to provide you plenty of opportunities to get off on it.

          As for the substance of your post, the South Koreans don’t hold the “trump” card (no pun intended). We guarantee their independence. They do not guarantee their own. If the US wanted, we could simply pull out our troops, remove the protection of our nuclear umbrella and leave South Korea to its fate.

          I’m not advocating any of this. I’m just pointing out to you that the “say” that South Korea has is hemmed in by the bottom line analysis that ultimately their fate is not in their own control.

          They have 2 choices at the end of the day: Team USA or Team China. If the US pulls up stakes, we make that decision for them.

          • lichau

            I fine with letting South Korea to its fate. How long do we have to pay for saving their bacon in the early 50’s?
            Same goes for Japan & Germany. These are all wealthy, first world nations with large trade surpluses with the US.

        • Dog Star

          “Seoul has a say of how much of a risky adventure the US is allowed to take in the Korean peninsula.”

          Not necessarily. And the ongoing development of NK’s ICBM capability diminishes any “say” the SK’s have in our own strategic calculations in direct proportion, more so with each passing day.

  • mf

    it is interesting to observe the “realists” turning, within the space of couple of months, into “war mongers”, or if one wants to be charitable, “war hawks”. This reinforces my view that the “conservative movement”, particularly as represented by the Republican party, is a one trick pony: cut taxes (for the richest of the rich), increase defense spending, start couple wars to keep the spirits up.

    The Soviet Union had thousands of warheads with ballistic missiles pointed at the US head during the cold war. MAD worked then, it will also work for North Korea. The problem with past three presidents making any statement encouraging military belligerence towards North Korea is that we have double crazy in power now: Republicans, and a mentally unstable President to boot. If one wants to talk about crazy, it is no longer clear who to fear more.

    For the assessment that “time is running out” and “something needs to be done” is based on an assertion that North Koreans are crazy. Really? Their fear of being overthrown by force seems pretty rational to me. This is not to say that I personally would not want them overthrown. I would, but they are not crazy. North Korea is an example of hereditary Stalinism. If Stalin was slightly less unhinged and embraced, rather than despised, his own children, the same could still be going on in the Soviet Union. We narrowly dodged that bullet, didn’t we?

    The best way to contain North Korea is to patiently work within the framework of international collaboration, engage China, rather than threaten the war with China. The only military option is to test in practice what all the billions (trillions?) spent on missile defense actually accomplished and shoot one of these missiles down in international airspace. And before one does that, China better be on board.

  • brian_in_arizona

    Nuclear proliferation is as much a threat to China as it is to the US.

    We must work with China and SK to defuse NK.

    Invasion is unthinkable. A “capitation strike” against NK’s leadership and its nuclear forces can only work if China and SK support it behind the scenes. Not likely. Who knows who the successor will be? SK fears that NK would immediately retaliate with the full force of its military against SK and Seoul in particular, which is within range of NK artillery.

    If Tillerson thinks the US should be worried, how do you think the leadership of China must feel about the nuclear-armed madman on their border?

  • longlance

    Patience is a virtue. That’s Biblical. War-mongering USA needs to get out of Korea.

  • stefanstackhouse

    Since it is the South Koreans who have the most at stake and the most to lose in anything we do, we need to pay close attention to them and really follow their lead here. Military action should only be taken if and when the ROK is ready for it and has come to the conclusion that there are no more good options available. We might very well come to that point, but if we move against the DPRK, it truly is going to be “we” – the US and the ROK. There must be absolutely no distance at all between the two of us on this one.

    The only exception to this might be if we conclude there is a credible threat that the DPRK has the capability to launch a nuclear-tipped ICBM against US territory and is preparing to do so. Even then, we still need to make every effort to get the ROK on board with whatever pre-emptive action we take if at all possible.

  • Dog Star

    The destruction wrought by the naivete and geopolitical/strategic incompetence of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and later, John Kerry, cannot be overstated. Expecting Obama to join with former presidents in admitting his own policy was anything but an unqualified success and to come together in support of a Republican administration is wishful thinking, at best.



    • Dog Star

      Gee, I’m sure no one has thought of that. Perhaps you should type more loudly so that they will finally hear your wisdom. Try bold-type to go along with your all-caps next time. Perhaps that’ll do the trick.

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