Treating North Korea Rough

Photo by John Pavelka | CC BY 2.0

Since entering office, the Trump administration has directed a reckless and dangerous pressure campaign against North Korea that has made life worse for the North Korean people while increasing the likelihood of war.

The pressure campaign includes increasingly stringent sanctions backed by the threat of war. Administration officials say the campaign is necessary to pressure the North Korean government into abandoning its nuclear weapons program.

“My deal was that, we’ve got to treat them rough,” President Trump explained last year.

The Trump administration is directing the campaign despite a growing consensus that it will not work. Over the past year, U.S. officials have largely concluded that no amount of pressure will force the North Korean government to give up its nuclear weapons.

Last year, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats explained at the Aspen Security Forum that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un believed that nuclear weapons were necessary for “survival for his regime” and “survival for his country.” The basic reason is that “having the nuclear card in your pocket results in a lot of deterrence capability,” Coats said.

Over the past few years, many leaders around the world have reached the same conclusion, according to Coats. After watching outside powers interfere in Libya and Ukraine, he explained, heads of state have concluded that they need nuclear weapons to deter invasions. “The lessons that…

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