Acceptance and Cooperation:
The final strategy is a more laissez-faire approach, where the US accepts NK as a nuclear power. After all, America has lived with far greater threats for almost half a century.
Instead of using a aggressive strategy with military, intervention or/and democracy expansion, then USA could adopt a “less destructive” strategy where the key elements are interdependence, cooperation and multilevel governance.
USA could work closely with the other countries and the UN and restrain from the use of force and continue with sanctions to strengthen peace. By punishing NK financially, this may in the long run force them to retreat and stop power projectile.
Following the analysis of the four possible solutions, my recommendation for a re-orientation of the strategy towards NK would be the latter one – Acceptance & Cooperation.
This is the most peaceful and liberal oriented solution that seeks to deescalate the conflict to avoid a very costly war both in terms of money and lives.
As Michael Doyle states in the book named Foreign Policy: Theories, Actors, Cases: “In relations with powerful non liberal states, liberal states have missed opportunities to pursue the negotiation of arms reduction and arms control when it has been in the mutual strategic interest, and they have failed to construct wider schemes of accommodation that are needed to supplement arms control. For that reason, I am of the belief that an invasion or a decapitation of the regime will not benefit the international society nor better Trump’s chances of a re-election for presidency (Hence what happened to President Bush after the Iraq War). So far, the use of military power has not been fruitful and therefore I address the importance to choose rationality over the “realists” desire for power. USA has to accept that NK will become a nuclear power. When said is said, however I believe that USA should work towards not making this happening by following this strategy.
It is a very complex conflict and USA cannot solve it without a strong transnational collaboration with other regional allies as well as continue the multilateral governance with UN as a mediator.
The election of the South Korean President Moon-Jaea together with the strong partnership with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will create opportunities to change the more military approach to a more diplomatic approach where there exists an increased focus on cooperation, sanctions/embargoes and deepen the collective defence towards NK.
I also believe that the administration should encourage China to take more responsibility in solving the conflict with NK. China is after all a super power in Asia. However, USA has to take China’s interests into account. It is not in China’s interest that NK one day could be “merged” with South Korea since this would imply that China would now have a very loyal US-ally as a neighbour.
Regarding the sanctions, I would recommend these to be further strengthened by imposing secondary sanctions upon companies that trade with NK. The sanctions are crucial to force NK to prohibit their nuclear program. This will create a base for future cooperation where other countries including China seeks to increase transparency, cooperation, free trade and economic interdependence – the cornerstones for lasting peace according to the liberal theory. At the same time this will require NK to open up more and slowly democratize. By doing so, it will discourage the involved states from using armed force because it would threaten each side’s prosperity.
To achieve the latter one, it is recommended to create a forum that has the purpose of drawing the Northeast Asian nations together and collectively take responsibility and participate in peace-building measures that deal with security, humanitarian and political issues that concern Northeast Asia. An opportunity to create such a forum would be when President Trump travels to Asia in the upcoming month. Overall, this recommendation will hopefully lead to a more balanced international system and minimize the risk of a nuclear war.
Rosa Sejer Ingstrup Knudsen
Rosa Knudsen is a political science student at University of Copenhagen. Passionated by Strategy and Geopolitics she published a scientific article regarding the dispute in South China Sea.