North Korea’s Nuclear Challenge: P4 Engagement Approach with a Hint of Realism

  • September 17, 2016
  • Lieutenant Colonel Jung W. Choi

The thesis of this paper is that the current U.S. policy toward North Korea has created an imbalance between the objectives and concepts at the strategic level. As a result, the U.S. has not been able to achieve its stated policy objective of denuclearized North Korea. In an effort to secure effectively U.S. national interests, the Obama administration forthwith should reevaluate the policy of “strategic patience” and consider approaches that could ameliorate the imbalance. The strategic environment has changed significantly since Obama took office in 2009. Significant changes in the strategic environment require significant modifications to the current policy. President Nixon in 1972 proactively took steps to seek rapprochement with the communist China—then, and still, a nuclear weapons state—against the Cold War policy of containment. Recently, President Obama made a historic visit to Cuba, once a nuclear weapons proxy state, and made a historic deal with Iran, a member of the axis of evil and once an aspiring nuclear weapons state. The strategic environment is now conducive to a new engagement approach that is proactive, principled, pragmatic, and persistent with a hint of realism.