Bellicose statements by President Trump and the unrelenting progress made in North Korea’s nuclear activities have set the stage for a confrontation between the United States and North Korea– a confrontation that has the very distinct possibility of bringing the United States and China into direct conflict.
Over the past several weeks, I have been collecting interviews with several experts who have unpacked the North Korea’s nuclear program, explaining to Global Dispatches Podcast listeners why North Korea is pursuing nuclear weapons, why sanctions have failed to dissuade Pyongyang, what policy options are available to the Trump administration — and why a World War Three is more probable than we might think.
What follows are three particularly helpful Global Dispatches podcast episodes that help explain the current predicament with North Korea–and how policymakers might navigate away from the brink.
In this interview, Kelsey Davenport of the Arms Control Association offers a clear explanation of the strategic implications of the kinds of missile tests Pygonynang has been carrying out. That is: why Pyongyang is opting to conduct these kinds of tests in particular? She makes a convincing case that these tests are intended to maximize the deterrent value of the North’s nuclear arsenal. It is as clear a 20 minute explanation of North Korea’s nuclear strategy as you can get.
In this interview, MIT professor James Walsh — who has visited North Korea and has conducted informal diplomatic consultations with North Korean leaders — explains why sanctions have so far not been able to dissuade North Korea from expanding its nuclear program. We spoke just after the election of Moon Jae-In in South Korea, and Jim explains how regional political dynamics could affect international diplomacy on North Korea.
In this interview legendary international relations scholar Graham Allison argues that the United States and China are far more likely to go to war than we may think. Using historical data he shows that the United States and China are caught in what is known as “thucydides’ trap” and that North Korea could be the trigger that pits the United States and China at war with each other. It may seem far fetched to think that he United States and China would actually go to war, but it is definitely worth considering this possibility–and the role North Korea plays.