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The Right Way to Coerce North Korea

Ending the Threat Without Going to War

From Pyongyang with love: a North Korean ICBM test, July 2017 KCNA / REUTERS

When it comes to North Korea, U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies have been whiplash inducing. On February 23, he appeared to be gearing up for a conflict when he said that if sanctions against Pyongyang didn’t work, Washington would have to move to “phase two,” which could be “very, very unfortunate for the world.” But just two weeks later, Trump abruptly changed course and accepted an invitation to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un—a decision that caught even his own White House and State Department by surprise. 

Trump’s newfound enthusiasm for diplomacy has temporarily lowered the temperature on the Korean Peninsula, but it also underlines a bigger question: Does the United States have a strategy for North Korea, or are these twists and turns merely the whims of a temperamental president? In the past, rash and uninformed decisions by U.S. officials on the

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