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Detente May Be an Option With North Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un signing the order to carry out the test-fire of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 at an undisclosed location (STR/AFP via Getty Images)
(STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Detente May Be an Option With North Korea

Walter Russell Mead

Pity the Biden staffers charged with developing a North Korea strategy. After 30 years of U.S. diplomacy and escalating sanctions, Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal continues to grow, North Korean missiles get better, and the day when the Kim dynasty can reliably strike targets on the American mainland with nuclear-armed ICBMs comes inexorably closer.

During those 30 years, U.S. policy makers have pursued an enticing goal: the abolition of North Korea’s existing nuclear arsenal and a verifiable North Korean commitment to remain nuclear-free. It is politically impossible for an American president to abandon this goal; it is impossible as a practical matter for an American president to achieve it.

In foreign policy, an unshakable commitment to an unreachable goal is neither a sign of wisdom nor a harbinger of success. During the so-called unipolar moment of the 1990s, when the U.S. faced no serious rivals or competition around the world, American policy makers could indulge themselves in impossible dreams and vainglorious posturing with few immediate real-world consequences. Today, a rising China aligned with a hostile Russia poses the greatest threat to vital American interests since the height of the Cold War, and U.S. foreign policy needs to be more grounded.

Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal

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