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Trump’s Lousy Idea for North Korea Policy

Trump’s North Korea policy keeps getting worse [1]:

The United States is imposing further sanctions and penalties against North Korea by designating it a state sponsor of terrorism, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday.

Putting North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism is a bad decision on the merits, and it will also make it more difficult to de-escalate the situation with North Korea. North Korea hasn’t been a state sponsor of terrorism for decades [2], and it was removed from the list of state sponsors in recognition of that fact. Designating them as a state sponsor was a lousy idea when Ted Cruz proposed it [3] a few weeks ago, and it is still a lousy idea today. As I said last month:

It is dangerous to add states to the list just because we see it as a way to lean on their governments, because that makes the designation meaningless and arbitrary.

Imposing additional sanctions on North Korea isn’t going to make their government more cooperative on any other issues. Sanctioning another state for behavior that it doesn’t engage in is an absurd way to get “tough” with them. It is a perfect example of imposing sanctions just for the sake of imposing them. There is no way for North Korea to improve its behavior to get these sanctions lifted in the future, because it isn’t doing what it is accused of doing. Sanctioning them for something they haven’t done creates a perverse incentive for them to start doing just that.

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5 Comments To "Trump’s Lousy Idea for North Korea Policy"

#1 Comment By b. On November 20, 2017 @ 1:53 pm

The same pathetic dynamics can be observed at the UN. Western nations, led by the US, have been eroding international institutions for decades now, for day-to-day contingencies, with no regard for the consequences. The hypocrisy alone is offensive enough, but the damage is severe and lasting.

#2 Comment By Xenia Grant On November 20, 2017 @ 2:31 pm

North Korea has a populace that is full of parasites and the US is punishing them for what? Regardless of what we do Kim Jong Un and the nomenkatura are going to feel the effects. It is the ordinary parasite filled North Korean that will bear this brunt. Never in my lifetime did I ever think my country would be the most dangerous one the world has to contend with.

#3 Comment By ukm1 On November 20, 2017 @ 2:57 pm

DPRK (i.e., North Korea) is now working on the submarine-based missile launch capability.

Once submarine-based missile launch capability will be fully functional, American govt. will start talking on a bilateral basis.

Because, even if American govt. completely destroys the entire Korean Peninsula in an unforeseeable nuclear catastrophe, American mainland will not escape unscathed this time like American mainland did during all of the previous wars such as the WW(I), the WW(II), the Vietnam War, and the Korean War!

American govt. does not militarily attack a country that can inflict similar catastrophe in American mainland.

#4 Comment By One Guy On November 20, 2017 @ 7:23 pm

Trump talked tough about China trade during the election. Now that he’s in a position to do something, China told its vassal, North Korea, to act up, so Trump would have to rely on China for help, and not impose any trade restrictions (my opinion, but it fits).

China has outsmarted Trump. Big shock.

#5 Comment By liberal On November 21, 2017 @ 9:43 am

ukm1 wrote,

Once submarine-based missile launch capability will be fully functional, American govt. will start talking on a bilateral basis.

Not so clear. Recall that during the Cuban Missile Crisis, we came very close to a nuclear war (we would have, except for one Soviet officer on one Soviet submarine, Vasili Arkhipov, who refused to agree to order the launch of nuclear tipped torpedos against US ships). And it was all over the principle that the US had the right to station nuclear missiles close to the Soviet homeland (in Turkey), but they had no reciprocal right.

Of course, if I’m remembering my history right, the US did eventually agree to take out our missiles in exchange for them taking theirs out of Cuba, but not without almost incinerating everyone first.

(Not saying that the USSR or the Cubans are entirely blameless, but the US’s actions seem particularly horrible. Never did understand why Kennedy didn’t do the entirely wrong thing (e.g. “surgical strikes”)—he doesn’t seem like a particularly good guy, and a bunch of people around him were pushing more hawkish responses. Maybe he didn’t want to think of himself as the guy who helped incinerate the northern hemisphere.)