June 11, 2009

No Illusions: Regaining the Strategic Initiative with North Korea

Pyongyang has spoken: North Korea has chosen the path of confrontation. Despite a series of agreements orchestrated by the Clinton and Bush administrations, North Korea has made no progress toward engagement and denuclearization, and has abdicated its commitments to the international community. While President Obama has reaffirmed the inevitability of progress over the “long arc of history,” the history of negotiations with North Korea looks more like a frustrating “rinse and repeat” cycle than anything resembling a clear trajectory. The Obama administration should be under no illusions – the turbulent cycles of North Korean denuclearization negotiations have put the United States and the international community in a disadvantageous negotiating position. It is becoming increasingly clear that this dynamic is unsustainable. Therefore, the Obama administration should pursue a strategic management approach that provides a bridge between short- and medium-term strategic objectives and long term aspirations of denuclearization through negotiation. This framework is designed to enable America to regain the strategic initiative and defend our allies while guarding against North Korean provocations.


  • Abraham M. Denmark

  • Lindsey Ford

  • Michael J Zubrow

  • Nirav Patel

  • Zachary Hosford

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