US ‘No Exit’ North Korea policy

A reader of ‘GuamDiary’ submitted a commentary of Sung yoon Lee’s opinion piece ‘Why North Korea’s Rockket Matter’, published in the ‘New York Times’ Saturday edition [14 April 2012].

‘GuamDiary’ suggests searching for the ‘NYT Online’ to read Lee’s analysis. As adjunct lecturer at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, he is an unrelenting critic of the DPRK.

We thought we would share his thoughts with our readers.

In parsing Mr. Lee’s grumblings, one gets the impression of seeing yet another recitation of America’s version of Sartre’s “No Exit,” in the case of North Korea. In fact, one also gets the impression that the failure of sanctions and other diplomatic instruments offers only one option–the military. 

And yet, absent from all commentary on North Korea is the 800-pound gorilla that casts its large shadow over America’s North Korea policy: the US is technically at war with the DPRK since 1950.
A bird’s eye view of that long policy reveals more failures than successes. The US has stitched North Korea into a tight corset militarily, economically and politically, and yet, “Lilliputian” North Korea has eluded Washington’s grasp, even to the point of testing a nuclear device, which makes any American administration think twice about attacking it.
As Asia Foundation’s representation in Seoul Peter Beck and former State Department North Korea expert Joel Wit suggest: the US has to find a way of talking to North Korea, an alternative it has steadfastly shied away from with trepidation. 
The Bush and Obama administrations have violated the advice Tallyrand offered two centuries ago: in diplomacy, “surtout pas trop de zele!” Excessive passion has locked US North Korea policy in a hell of its own making, with an exit.

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