On February 9, Markus Garlauskas published a blog post, “It’s Time to Get Real on North Korea” on the United States Institute of Peace website. In this piece, Garlauskas argues that the Biden administration should form a new, pragmatic strategy that shifts the focus away from near-term denuclearization toward preventing further expansion of nuclear capabilities and military aggression in recognition of “a resolutely nuclear-armed North Korea and an uncooperative China”.
With consistent effort, the new strategy could blunt North Korea’s challenge to stability and deterrence while leaving allies more confident in U.S. protection, rather than more inclined to pursue their own nuclear weapons. Restraining North Korea’s bellicosity enough to prevent nuclear tests, ballistic missile tests or military aggression would be a goal worth some cost and risk to achieve—less lofty, but more realistic than denuclearization. Without abandoning the “long game” of denuclearization, the new strategy could reduce the risk that a future Korean crisis would either reward North Korean coercion or spiral through miscalculation into a devastating nuclear war.