North Korea, formerly designated a state sponsor of terrorism by the United States, emerged as a nuclear-armed enigma under the dictatorship of Kim-Jong Il. RAND’s research on both deterrence and failed states includes expert analysis of the North Korean regime, opportunities for its modernization and democratization, and implications for post–Cold War geopolitics.
The ruthless purge of 67-year-old Jang Sung Taek appears to be the culmination of a power struggle that makes 30 year-old Kim Jong Un the undisputed supreme leader of North Korea.
The US, working closely with its allies, should approach each potential conflict with North Korea in its own context, sculpting policy that draws on experience as well as observations made through research, writes Lowell Schwartz.
The United States, South Korea and their allies would be well advised to factor in the possibility that North Korea could collapse in a fit of revolt and economic decay at any time, just as East Germany did, writes Bruce Bennett.
The U.S.-South Korean Extended Deterrence Policy Committee was setup to deter North Korean threats. The upcoming summit should ratify the progress of this effort, reassuring both the Korean and U.S. people that these threats are being managed.
Obviously it will not always be possible to avoid the use of force and the risk of escalation. But the US and its allies cannot take the possibility of military responses against nuclear regional adversaries off the table without limiting its own strategic options, eroding its influence, and threatening its security.
To preserve and protect the peace and freedom that has seen Asia develop into a third engine of the global economy, the United States and South Korea should take steps to deepen their security cooperation in three areas: bilateral alliance management, defense force modernization, and improved regional diplomatic coordination.
How does Washington signal tenacity to a pugnacious Pyongyang and demonstrate resolve to a jittery Seoul, all without inadvertently triggering an escalatory spiral?
The ROK and the United States should take actions to deter subsequent North Korean provocations while punishing the country for its nuclear weapon test. Such actions could convince it that the ROK/U.S. are serious and able to impose high costs, writes Bruce Bennett.
Kim Jong-Un's regime has placed outsized import on its missile launches—despite the risk of alienating the international community—to offset the lack of success across a wide range of topics, writes Bruce Bennett.
While many observers of North Korea have been surprised by the apparently peaceful ascension of Kim Jong-Un, there are reasons to believe that the situation in the North is not so stable, writes Bruce Bennett.
In light of deeply-rooted policy differences, so clearly on display in China’s treatment of South Korea over the past two years, no amount of tweaking around the margins of policy, inspired by internet polling, is likely to lead to dramatic improvements in the bilateral relationship, writes Scott Warren Harold.
It is notable that North Korea's Politburo made the Ri announcement, suggesting a rise in power of the party relative to the military. The choice of Ri's successor is also curious, writes Bruce Bennett.
War games are especially important as countries prepare to counter adversaries who use asymmetric strategies or weapons, forcing military planners to deal with unfamiliar threats, writes Bruce Bennett.
With his father's support over the last year, Kim Jong-Un has tried to rapidly reshape the North Korean leadership structure, giving him many new subordinates who are untried and lacking experience. Some will clearly make mistakes, writes Bruce Bennett.
Anyone concerned about nuclear proliferation or interested in the world of espionage will want to read Catherine Collins and Douglas Frantz's provocative new book, "Fallout: The True Story of the CIA's Secret War on Nuclear Trafficking," which tells a fascinating story whose characters come straight out of a spy novel, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.
Clearly, it's time for a new strategy, one that North Korea has been loathe to discuss: hasten Korean unification under South Korea's leadership, writes Bruce Bennett.
North Korea's apparent sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan marks a new low in the North's provocative behavior. While some would prefer to respond with carrots rather than sticks, it is time to take action that imposes political costs on Kim Jong-il, writes Bruce Bennett.
Prospects for reuniting South and North Korea may be better than at any time since the demise in 1994 of North Korea's "Great Leader," Kim Il Sung. Several indicators suggest a possible move in this direction, writes Charles Wolf Jr.
In recent years, U.S. commanders of the ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command have been unanimous in stating that CFC could defeat a North Korean invasion. Nevertheless, they have also expressed concern about the catastrophic damage that North Korea could do to the ROK before losing, writes Bruce Bennett.
When the Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago, those raised in the shadow of possible nuclear holocaust felt disbelief, followed by relief and hope that the end of the Cold War would bring lasting peace, and the end of conflict. And in Europe, at least, it mostly did – but not everywhere, writes Christopher S. Chivvis.