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The Trump Administration’s Foolish Maximalism on North Korea

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Earlier today at the U.N., Rex Tillerson said that North Korea must dismantle its “nuclear missile program” as a precondition for negotiations:

This is the same unrealistic, maximalist demand that Pence issued last week, and it is still not going to have the desired effect. No government is going to make concessions of this magnitude in exchange for the mere possibility of future negotiations, and North Korea’s certainly won’t. Tillerson and Pence don’t seem to grasp that the North Korean government perceives its weapons and missile programs as a way to ensure the regime’s survival, and so demanding that they give them up in advance before talks even begin is an obvious non-starter. Given Washington’s unfortunate habit of attacking and deposing governments that have already disarmed, North Korea is bound to be even more suspicious of our intentions when our officials make demands like this.

The Trump administration is demanding something from North Korea that it will never get, and by making this the precondition for negotiations it demonstrates that the administration has no real interest in pursuing a diplomatic solution to tensions with North Korea.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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