June 8, 2009

Failure to Contain North Korea Not Surprising

RAND Corporation, RAND Corporation

AP Photo

North Korea's latest misbehavior highlights an uncomfortable truth: the failure of the United States and the international community to deter North Korean actions.

Unfortunately, this failure was predictable. Deterrence is based on the costs a country perceives it will face versus the benefits it expects to obtain. In this case, it is pretty easy to see why North Korea has not been deterred.

Consider the benefits:

The appearance of power: North Korea's leaders are trying to overcome their appearance of weakness. Kim Jong Il's health has been poor. He allowed the development of markets to help distribute food -- markets that have undermined the regime's ability to control who gets fed. North Korea's recent nuclear test and "space launch," in contrast, make Kim...

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TAGGED: North Korea, United States, South Korea, Kim Jong Il, food

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