How to Deal With North Korea 

Great article by Mark Bowden in The Atlantic outlining the complexities of dealing with North Korea.

It’s a long read, probably about 30 minutes, which is somewhat amusing when you read the first line …

Thirty minutes. That’s about how long it would take a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched from North Korea to reach Los Angeles. With the powers in Pyongyang working doggedly toward making this possible—building an ICBM and shrinking a nuke to fit on it—analysts now predict that Kim Jong Un will have the capability before Donald Trump completes one four-year term.


For all these reasons, acceptance is how the current crisis should and will most likely play out. No one is going to announce this policy. No president is going to openly acquiesce to Kim’s ownership of a nuclear-tipped ICBM, but just as George W. Bush quietly swallowed Pyongyang’s successful explosion of an atom bomb, and just as Barack Obama met North Korea’s subsequent nuclear tests and missile launches with strategic patience, Trump may well find himself living with something similar. If there were a tolerable alternative, it would long ago have been tried. Sabotage may continue to stall progress, but cannot stop it altogether. Draconian economic pressure, even with China’s help, is also unlikely to curb Pyongyang’s quest.

This is the scenario I have feared with a Trump presidency. Does the President (and his administration) have the stomach to not look “strong” and to continue to sabotage and stall North Korea’s progress until an economic and diplomatic solution are reached? Or will they roll the dice on a riskier alternative?

Those alternatives, as the article lays out, all have high likelihoods of significantly worse outcomes for the Korean peninsula, the US West Coast, and the US at large.

Does the President have the patience to make the right decision, even if it’s the one that is the least flattering personally?