Since North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006, the United States’ overarching strategy toward North Korea has been one of pressure through isolation. By imposing strict sanctions and avoiding sustained diplomatic dialogue with North Korea, US policymakers have sought to pressure the country to unilaterally denuclearize. Dr. Van Jackson argues that this strategy has failed, is analytically flawed, and condemns the United States and North Korea to never ending nuclear crises. Rather than forge forward with a failed approach, Van proposes a new strategy of diplomatically engaging North Korea with the goal of freezing their nuclear weapons program and stabilizing our bilateral relations. In this episode, I speak with Van to explore why he thinks US strategy toward North Korea has failed, and what he proposes as an alternative.
Van is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Van is also an Adjunct Senior Fellow with the Indo-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). From 2009-2014, Van served as a strategist and policy adviser in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), where he worked on issues ranging from defense planning for U.S. Asia strategy to nuclear negotiations with North Korea. Van has written two books on U.S.-North Korea relations–On the Brink: Trump, Kim, and the Threat of Nuclear War (2018), and Rival Reputations: Coercion and Credibility in U.S.-North Korea Relations (2016). He is also the host of the hilarious and informative “undiplomatic podcast” . I hope you enjoy this episode of the Hopkins podcast on foreign affairs.
Van’s work on Engaging North Korea:
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