At the end of October, Abraham Sofaer, Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, gave a lucid presentation about the North Korean threat. The good news is the war of words between Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump is just that – words. Sofaer recounted a history of words between the countries for the past 50 years. If actual war was in the wind, he continued, so would be its characteristics of recalling American personnel overseas and the building of armed forces, which has not yet happened.
Sofaer then went on to say that the only “acceptable” resolution is diplomacy, which can only be brought about by a combination of extreme economic sanctions, deals with North Korea and China, and a large buildup of nuclear and anti-nuclear technology surrounding North Korea. This three prong approach constrains North Korea into a mindset for meaningful talks.
The bad news is that the level of cost, diplomacy, deals, and secrecy may be beyond our government. The weak link in this chain is secrecy, as the bitter hatred of Trump from within, and the media from without could frustrate the sensitive and secret talks that must take place if a sound agreement that protects the peace is to be reached.
Sofaer noted that secret talks have frustrated all modern presidents but it can be done noting a case-in-point with Henry Kissinger.
There is a path forward with North Korea that is defined and practical, but it will be challenging.