Why threatening Kim Jong-un is futile

Kim Jong-un tells the people of North Korea that they live in the most advanced and admired nation in the world, but that they are under threat by the United States.

Threatening North Korea reinforces the message that they have to unify behind their Supreme Leader.

Isolating North Korea helps shut out the knowledge that not everybody in the world is as regimented and poor as they area.

Recent history shows Kim that there is no safety in renouncing nuclear weapons.  Saddam Hussein renounced nuclear weapons,   Muammar Qaddafi renounced nuclear weapons.   That didn’t save them from being killed like animals following the U.S. invasion of Iraq and proxy invasion of Libya.

Kim Jong-un surely knows that a nuclear attack on the United States would be suicidal.   His nuclear weapons tests and missile demonstrations make sense as an attempt to deter attack.   Bear in mind that the United States  conducts military exercises in South Korea as if rehearsing for an attack on North Kora.

The real danger is if Kim Jong-un comes to believe that his country is going to be attacked, and that he has nothing to lose by firing nuclear missiles (assuming he actually has nuclear missiles).

I don’t think there is anything that can be done about the North Korean regime in the short term.   I think the only way to change North Korea in the long term is to end its isolation.

Offer to negotiate a peace.   Try to open up North Korea to the outside world.   For example, ask the government to allow reunification of divided Korean families that have no contact since the division of Korea 70 years ago.


Undercover in North Korea: “All Paths Lead to Catastrophe”, an interview of Suki Kim for the Intercept on her experiences teaching English in North Korea.

America on the Brink of Nuclear War: Background to the North Korean Crisis by William R. Polk for Counterpunch.

America on the Brink of Nuclear War: What Should We Do? by William R. Polk for Counterpunch.

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One Response to “Why threatening Kim Jong-un is futile”

  1. halbauer Says:

    I agree. Right on, why threatening Kim Jong-un is futile, Phil.


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