February 09, 2018

Maximum Pressure: A Clarifying Signal in the Noise of North Korea Policy

By Patrick M. Cronin

At the height of the Roman Empire two thousand years ago, the Stoic philosopher Seneca counseled that any quest for a fulfilling life should begin with a clear objective: “Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbour he is making for, no wind is the right wind.”4

Seneca may as well have been advising policymakers on dealing with North Korea. The objectives of Washington’s North Korea policy run the gamut from the plausible to the unthinkable.

In the main, the Trump administration’s national security team supports the goal of deterring the outbreak of major war, a bedrock of bipartisan national security policy for 65 years.5 Both the Obama and Trump administrations have engaged in various shows of force and enhanced military exercises to underscore deterrence and an ironclad alliance commitment. As America’s top officer in Korea has explained, the purpose of joint U.S.-South Korean exercises is to serve the overriding goal of maintaining “a credible deterrent.”6

Read the full article in The Texas National Security Review.

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