A Foreign Enemy is a Tyrant’s Best Friend

The recent Iran nuclear deal represents a thaw in the American cold war against that country. It is a welcome sequel to the Obama administration’s partial normalization with Cuba announced late last year. Hardliners denounce these policies as “going soft” on theocracy and communism. Yet, it is such critics’ own hardline, hawkish policies that have … Continue reading “A Foreign Enemy is a Tyrant’s Best Friend”

Infantilizing North Korea

Political Cartoonists love to portray North Korea as an irrational and infantile force. It’s either a baby with a nuclear rattle or a little truant in need of a timeout. The relative youth of the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, encourages such representations, but the practice predates his ascension to power. According to the dictates … Continue reading “Infantilizing North Korea”

Breaking Out the Bush Playbook on Korea

In the current crisis on the Korean peninsula, the Obama administration is virtually repeating the 2004 Bush playbook, one that derailed a successful diplomatic agreement forged by the Clinton administration to prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons. While the acute tensions of the past month appear to be receding—all of the parties involved seem … Continue reading “Breaking Out the Bush Playbook on Korea”

North Korea Is Like a Misbehaving Child – Ignore It

No doubt exists that North Korea’s recent belligerent and irresponsible rhetoric is kinda scary. The question, of course, is how to respond to it. The usual response of a superpower, which conducts an overly militarized foreign policy, is counter-threats and intimidation. The United States pulled out its most fearsome weapons—the B-2 stealth bomber, the B-52 … Continue reading “North Korea Is Like a Misbehaving Child – Ignore It”

Is War With North Korea Inevitable?

“If you see 10 troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you,” said Calvin Coolidge, who ever counseled patience over the rash response. Unfortunately, the troubles presented by North Korea’s Kim Jong Un seem unlikely to run into a ditch before they reach … Continue reading “Is War With North Korea Inevitable?”

Behind the US-North Korean Bluster

What’s happening between the U.S. and North Korea to produce such headlines in recent days as “Korean Tensions Escalate,” and “North Korea Threatens U.S.”? The New York Times reported, “This week, North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jung-un, ordered his underlings to prepare for a missile attack on the United States. He appeared at a command … Continue reading “Behind the US-North Korean Bluster”

Escalating Korea Crisis Dims Hopes for Denuclearisation

With all sides seeming to climb further up the escalatory ladder over the last several days, defusing the ongoing crisis on the Korean Peninsula — let alone persuading Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arsenal as it once promised to do — looks daunting. Indeed, the latest moves by the major players – the two … Continue reading “Escalating Korea Crisis Dims Hopes for Denuclearisation”

Explaining North Korea

While North Korea’s rhetoric is routinely over-the-top, the propagandists of the ruling Korean Workers Party have really outdone themselves this time. Declaring that the North is now in “a state of war” with the South, they have produced a video supposedly depicting their plan of attack complete with special effects and appallingly bad graphics – … Continue reading “Explaining North Korea”

United States Plays Into the Hands of Despotic Dictators

Recent events surrounding North Korea and Iran and past U.S. pressure on autocratic rulers indicate that trying to isolate such despots is exactly what they want. So why does the U.S. government continue to blunder into these failed policies? The answer is that human nature takes over. If a brutal, authoritarian ruler, such as Kim … Continue reading “United States Plays Into the Hands of Despotic Dictators”

Rodmania in North Korea

Sometimes the common man–or not so common man, such as basketball Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman–can teach elite media, politicians, and diplomats a thing or two. The media largely billed Rodman’s visit to North Korea to see its young leader as "bizarre," or "the weirdest encounter." They also deemed "disastrous" his interview on ABC’s "This … Continue reading “Rodmania in North Korea”