Isolating North Korea Fails to Improve Security

The "shame and sanction" approach does nothing constructive

by John Glaser, December 12, 2012

The successful test-launch of another missile by North Korea, while the actual threat is markedly exaggerated in the media, illustrates the failure of the US’s so-called ”shame and sanction” approach to Pyongyang.

The Obama administration has taken the approach of his predecessors in isolating North Korea diplomatically and sanctioning it economically. But more of this kind of engagement will not induce North Korea to become less belligerent.

“A policy of not engaging Pyongyang,” writes former CIA officer Paul Pillar, “was tried for several years under the previous administration, without success in preventing North Korea’s first nuclear tests.”

“Wise statesmen learn to abandon obsolete or unworkable policies,” writes Ted Galen Carpenter, senior fellow for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. “President Richard Nixon did so with his opening to China in 1972, and President Bill Clinton did so with his normalization of diplomatic and economic relations with Vietnam in the late 1990s.”

“The results have been clearly positive in both cases” and Obama “needs to show the same judgment and courage by making a sustained effort at the highest level to establish something at least resembling a normal relationship with Pyongyang.”

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