With North Korea perilously close to becoming a nuclear-weapons state and Pyongyang declaring invalid the 1953 armistice agreement with South Korea, the already-fragile security situation in the region is hanging by a thread -- hostilities have commenced on paper, even if no attack is actually undertaken. By now, the Obama administration must realize that the UN Security Council is unlikely to impose measures sufficient to change the thinking in the North, and a potential attack on the Korean Peninsula risks involving 27,000 US troops pledged to come to the aid of the South. It’s time for significant actions by the Obama administration to restore the region to stability and turn North Korea, which cannot open up and survive -- as the Kim regime itself well knows -- away from its current perilous trajectory.
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Sen. John McCain echoed comments made over the weekend by former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates that Crimea is essentially lost. Even after ticking off a list of things the Obama administration could do to pressure Vladimir Putin, McCain had to answer in the negative about whether any such actions could reverse the Crimean invasion.
In the past there were excuses for those inclined to ignore or deny the horrors the Democratic People's Republic of Korea routinely visits upon its subjects. Defectors have an ax to grind, we were told. American intelligence is making up stories, and Pyongyang's foreign enemies stand to profit from these tales. There is nowhere for North Korea's apologists to hide now.
The American strategy of first resort is dialogue, on the theory that “it never hurts to talk to enemies.” Seldom is conventional wisdom so wrong. Engagement with rogue regimes is not cost free, as Michael Rubin demonstrates by tracing the history of American diplomacy with North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, the Taliban’s Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
A striking feature of North Korean communism has been the remarkable measure of physical security enjoyed by the uppermost reaches of this brutal and repressive regime.