- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

North Korea and the Futility of Sanctions

While on his misguided Asia trip [1], Pence announced [2] that more sanctions on North Korea would be forthcoming:

Vice President Mike Pence said the U.S. is preparing to announce the “toughest and most aggressive” economic sanctions against North Korea in the coming days, boosting pressure on the bellicose government during the Winter Olympics.

Pence, who is set to lead the U.S. delegation at the opening ceremonies Friday, made the announcement in Japan on Wednesday, following meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“The United States of America will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever — and we will continue to isolate North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs once and for all,” Pence said.

Sanctions rarely succeed in changing the target regime’s behavior, and in the case of North Korea we can say with some confidence that they are doomed to fail. When it comes to halting their development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, we can say that sanctions have already failed. It benefits no one to continue policies that have failed so badly on their own terms, but this is exactly what Pence is boasting about this week.

North Korea is already one of the most sanctioned and isolated regimes in the world, so it is difficult to pressure them more than they have already been pressured. Since North Korea considers its nuclear arsenal to be essential to regime survival, it is extremely unlikely to respond to further punitive measures by yielding to U.S. demands on this issue. North Korea has consistently responded to international pressure by becoming more intransigent and intensifying its pursuit of the nuclear weapons and missiles that the U.S. insists it must not have, so it is delusional at this point to believe that more of the same will produce a different result. The Trump administration’s inflexible pursuit of an unrealistic goal on North Korea will lead only to more failure and dangerously heightened tensions.

5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "North Korea and the Futility of Sanctions"

#1 Comment By b. On February 7, 2018 @ 11:29 am

Ceterum censeo: collective punishment, sanctions as casus belli.

I wonder at the image – is it meant to tell us that all North Koreans are already in underground bunkers, or that their weapons of mass destruction related program activities are performed by unenlightened engineers working in the dark? If they have all gone to bed already, is that the attack window that the Pentagon is so dutifully looking for?

#2 Comment By Fred Bowman On February 7, 2018 @ 12:30 pm

Seems to me the wise course of action in dealing with North Korea is let South Korea, Japan and China take the lead in dealing with North Korea as they’re the ones who have the most to lose. Of course, the imperialistic United States wants to tell the world how to handle things when truth be told the US has more than enough to do in solving problems here at home.

#3 Comment By Anne Mendoza On February 7, 2018 @ 8:17 pm

North Korea is not electrified which is why it appears as a dark void in satellite images when the rest of the world resembles the Milky Way. In North Korea, there are no lights to turn on.

I simply do not understand the continued pursuit of failed policies. So I have begun to suspect that these failed policies are not viewed as failures at all by our foreign policymakers. The Middle East clearly appears to be nothing but one catastrophic U.S. failure after another. But maybe it isn’t if the U.S. goal is to destabilize the region to weaken regional powers for Israel’s sake and to maintain a permanent U.S. presence to thwart Russian and Chinese ambitions in or around the region. I cannot fathom U.S. foreign policy regarding North Korea but something is going on.

#4 Comment By rayray On February 8, 2018 @ 12:11 pm

@Fred Bowman
Exactly. My wife is Korean-born, a brilliantly pragmatic woman with no illusions about China, North Korea OR South Korea, but who nearly said the same sentence as you.

#5 Comment By Paul Bakulski On February 8, 2018 @ 5:57 pm

Putin said the North Koreans “would eat grass” before they would give up their nuclear program.