North Korea claimed on Tuesday it has rockets that can hit the US mainland, in a statement issued just two days after the US pledged to help South Korea extend the range of its ballistic missiles.
Many hawks in Washington suspect that the isolated, authoritarian regime in North Korea is developing a long-range missile with a range of 6,700 km (4,160 miles) or more. While North Korea striking the US is virtually an impossibility, these voices argue the missile development could be aimed at the US.
But North Korea attempted to launch a long-range rocket in April, but it instead malfunctioned and broke apart before even escaping Earth’s atmosphere. Later that month, the regime displayed mock-ups of missiles – fakes – in a parade celebrating the new leader, Kim Jung Un.
These attempted displays of military strength indicate of two things. First, North Korea isn’t nearly the threat that Washington and the media try to make it out to be. And second, U.S. policy has failed to change the status quo in the authoritarian state.
North Korea’s ongoing brutality against its own people, as well as its international bluster, are in part a result of decades of failed US policy, which has bolstered the North’s southern enemy and isolated the regime.
“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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