25 March 2023

Good Point

I believe that I have noted on a few occasions, the US foreign policy establishment sees unconditional surrender as a precondition for negotiations. 

This has never been particularly effective, and will be even less effective as we move to a multi-polar world. 

It appears that I am not alone in this insight.  One hopes that it is not just limited to Daniel Larison and me:

State Department spokesman Ned Price answered a question on North Korea diplomacy today, and his answer unwittingly demonstrated the folly of the U.S. approach:
On your first question, it unfortunately is a purely hypothetical question. It’s an academic question, because we have been clear and consistent in conveying publicly and through all channels available to us that we are prepared and willing to engage in constructive diplomacy with the DPRK towards what is the goal we share with our allies and partners of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula [bold mine-DL]. And I say it’s hypothetical and academic because at every turn the DPRK has failed to engage meaningfully on these offers. But were that to be the case, were the DPRK to take us up on this, we would look to see if we could devise practical steps that could help to advance what is that longer-term objective of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The goal of the complete denuclearization of the peninsula is at odds with engaging in constructive diplomacy with North Korea. As long as this remains the goal of U.S. policy, there is not going to be constructive diplomacy. When “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” means nothing more than North Korea’s unilateral disarmament, North Korea isn’t going to “engage meaningfully” with a demand for its own capitulation. Of course North Korea has “failed to engage,” because they have no incentive to entertain the terms that the U.S. has set.

It should also be noted that the "Complete denuclearization of the peninsula," does nothing about the nuclear armed aircraft carriers and submarines around the Korean peninsula, so it is unilateral disarmament, i.e. capitulation, that is demanded as a precondition to negotiations.


The U.S. is the more powerful and secure state, and it has the luxury of taking the first step to revive negotiations if it wishes to negotiate. Because it is much more secure, the U.S. has greater flexibility and freedom of action than North Korea, and that means that the U.S. is in a position to break the current impasse. It cannot do that if it remains wedded to maximalism and coercive tactics. 

The US foreign policy "Blob" is a toxic mix of hubris, incompetence, and stupidity.


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