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Countering North Korean Brinkmanship

by Scott A. Snyder
March 29, 2013

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) visits the Wolnae Islet Defence Detachment in the western sector of the front line, which is near Baengnyeong Island of South Korea March 11, 2013. (KCNA/courtesy Reuters)


I have an op-ed on that explains North Korea’s historic patterns of brinkmanship and analyzes whether the current, more extreme round of threats is par for the course or is something new.  My original title for the piece was “What is Behind North Korean Threats,” but CNN named it “Why the North Korea Regime is Scary?”

The new title seems to anticipate North Korea’s bellicose and anxiety-filled declarations that its missile sites are now on alert following a U.S. B-2 practice bombing run to a bombing range in South Korea.  The B-2 bombing run is the latest in a series of U.S. steps intended to deter North Korean aggression while assuring South Korea that the United States is committed to South Korea’s defense. The run appears to have fixed North Korea’s attention.  These actions have made credible the U.S. assertion to North Korea that Pyongyang’s nuclear activities are making it less secure, not more secure.  But now that this message has been delivered, there is a need for the United States and South Korea to offer some clear diplomatic gestures of reassurance toward the North that can help the North Koreans climb down, calm down, and “change course.”

Post a Comment 1 Comment

  • Posted by A. Reader

    I wonder if it might not be wise to simply ignore the DPRK’s leadership, and deliver food aid to the people of North Korea via hot air balloons floated over. Something along the lines of the Berlin airlift only without risking any lives. Send over rice, beans, flour, sugar, cooking oil, dried meats/fish/chicken, propane tanks and burners, short wave radios along with “A free world sees your suffering, and is moved to help.”

    Not sure what will work but it’s obvious that working through their government doesn’t do much good long term. It may be best to work through China, and pay them to send the aid.

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