North Korea’s test of a nuclear bomb last week is again testing the resolve of the United States and the rest of the world.
Despite economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations (approved by China and Russia) in for its nuclear test in January, North Korea has doubled down since then, conducting 20 missile tests and last week’s nuclear test. And it says it now has the capability to mount a nuclear bomb on one of those missiles.
President Barack Obama condemned North Korea’s action and dispatched U.S. bombers to fly over South Korea, near the Demilitarized Zone as a show of force. But White House statements military maneuvers and calls for China to exercise its influence on Pyongyang have been tried before, to no avail.
What more can Obama — and his successor — do to stop what so far has been unstoppable?
Preventing Nuclear War with North Korea
Van Jackson – Foreign Affairs
North Korea’s nuclear program is now more accelerated, less constrained, and more openly linked to its missile program than at any point in its history. Pyongyang is rushing to deploy a nuclear force that can ensure the regime’s survival by guaranteeing that any attempt to replace it or invade to North Korea leads to nuclear war. But Washington and Seoul are dealing with North Korea as if it were still the 1980s.
The Korean Peninsula’s best chance of avoiding a mushroom-cloud fate is by adapting to—not downplaying—the unique risks and requirements of deterrence against a second-tier nuclear-armed adversary. The alliance, and the United States in particular, must thread the eye of a tiny needle by fashioning a credible deterrent without igniting a nuclear war. Two steps toward adaptation are in order: reducing the role of nukes in alliance military signaling and planning and curbing the objectives and scope of conflicts that break out.
North Korea Should Be China’s Problem. Here’s How to Make Xi Jinping Solve It.
Fred Kaplan – Slate
China alone is enabling it by keeping Kim’s regime well-stocked and thus protecting it from economic catastrophe; China alone could solve it by threatening to withdraw support.
So the United States should rally the same sort of campaign that revved up the pressure against Iran before those nuclear talks got underway. In other words, the international community should apply sanctions not only against North Korea but also against all institutions that do business with North Korea—an action that would affect some major Chinese banks…
The next president should take steps, especially with China, to prevent Pyongyang from deploying a nuclear missile; but if that proves fruitless, he or she should make very clear that North Korea’s use of nuclear weapons—or even a conventional invasion of South Korea (which might be accompanied by a brandishing of nukes to deter anyone from coming to Seoul’s aid)—will be regarded as an attack on the United States and will be dealt with accordingly.
How the Next President Can Stop North Korea
Joel S. Wit – The New York Times
The next administration must recognize that the United States, not China, is the indispensable nation when it comes to dealing with North Korea. Our allies, who look to us to provide leadership, already know this. So do the Chinese, who insist that only Washington can persuade the North Koreans to stop their bad behavior. North Korean officials have even told me in private that it is true for them, too.
If a new administration understands that the United States must take the lead, it can use the substantial diplomatic, military and economic power at its disposal to manage and potentially resolve this challenge. At the core will be a willingness to take all necessary steps to protect our allies, even measures that can anger China, like the recent decision to deploy advanced missile defenses in South Korea.
Why Kim Jong-Un Tested a Nuclear Warhead Now
Gordon G. Chang – The Daily Beast
The North Koreans know that (China’s President) Xi (Jinping) sees the U.S. as China’s main adversary, blocking Beijing’s ambitions in almost every direction. That’s probably why President Obama and National Security Adviser Susan Rice got a rough reception on Saturday in Hanghzou as they arrived for the G20. Kim, seeing how Xi treated Obama, thought he could get away with delivering his own radioactive-laced snub.
Kim knows that Xi is not about to further goals, like the denuclearization of North Korea, that Washington promotes, and so Pyongyang thinks it has a big green light in its quest to possess the world’s most destructive weapons.
It’s Kim Jong-Un’s World; We’re Just Living in It
Walter Russell Mead – The American Interest
Kim Jong-un is getting away with a nuclear build-up and a murderous dictatorship because he can. In theory, the world’s great powers have the ability to stop him. In practice, they are too divided, too busy knifing each other in the back, to cooperate against even a very small and poor country….
The problem isn’t that the goals of the liberal internationalists are bad goals. They are excellent goals: no war, the spread of democracy and human rights, limits on weapons of mass destruction, strong institutions….
But the difficulty that over and over sinks hopeful efforts by liberal internationalists is this: Liberal internationalist methods won’t achieve liberal internationalist goals. Power, not communiqués, is what makes the world go round.