Global Ethics Corner: North Korea: Engage, Ignore, or Confront?

Jan 6, 2012

With the recent death of Kim Jong-il, the United States is once again wondering what to do about North Korea. Is engagement with the nation's new leader, Kim Jong-un, the answer? Or should the U.S. isolate the rogue state and continue to ignore its threats?

With the December death of Kim Jong-il and the assumption of power by his son, Kim Jong-un, the United States faces an all-too-familiar question: What to do about North Korea?

Relations between the West and the so-called "hermit kingdom" have long been characterized by saber-rattling, nuclear threats, and Western concessions.

In recent weeks, North Korea has resumed its bad behavior. The nation has fired short-range missiles into its coastal waters and promised a "roar of revenge" as punishment for neighboring South Korea's failure to send an official representative on a condolence mission to Kim Jong-il's funeral. The South Korean capital is a mere 35 miles away from the North Korean border.

Now the Obama administration finds itself wondering how to handle this highly belligerent rogue state. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says current U.S. strategy is to ignore North Korean threats. Former president Jimmy Carter advocates engagement with Pyongyang.

The George W. Bush administration sought to isolate North Korea and labeled the regime a member of the "Axis of Evil." Former members of that administration are urging confrontation with the totalitarian state to finally put an end to its demands.

Many believe that the road to a successful rehabilitation of North Korea runs through Beijing. But China's overriding interest in regional stability has led it to support the tenuous status quo on the Korean peninsula.

What do you think? How should the leadership change in Pyongyang affect U. S. policy? Is the time right for a change, even if it risks military confrontation? Or should the Obama administration continue to ignore North Korean bravado in hopes that Kim Jong-un will prove more open to engagement than his father?

Photo Credits in order of Appearance: [also for picture 2]
U.S. Navy
Henrik Hansson/Globaljuggler
Pete Souza/White House [also for picture 13]
Eric Bridiers/U.S. State Department
Presidencia de la República del Ecuador
Eric Draper
Helene C. Stikkel

You may also like

NOV 12, 2021 Podcast

The Doorstep: Reversing Missed Opportunities in Africa, with Howard W. French

By 2030, Africa is projected to be home to 60 percent of the world’s working-age population. Columbia Journalism School’s Professor Howard W. French, author of ...

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) at the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in the Netherlands. <br>CREDIT: <a href="">U.S. Embassy The Hague <a href="">(CC)</a>.

JUL 28, 2020 Article

House Democrats: Ethical Choices and Narratives

With Congressman Eliot Engel having lost his primary election in New York to Jamaal Bowman, the Democrats will need to find a new chair for ...

U.S. representative Zalmay Khalilzad (left) and Taliban representative Abdul Ghani Baradar (right) sign the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan in Doha, Qatar on February 29, 2020. CREDIT: <a href="–present)#/media/File:Secretary_Pompeo_Participates_in_a_Signing_Ceremony_in_Doha_(49601220548).jpg">U.S. Department of State/Public Domain</a>

MAR 10, 2020 Podcast

The U.S.-Taliban Agreement & the Future of Afghanistan, with Jonathan Cristol

On February 29, the United States and the Taliban reached an agreement that could potentially end the longest-running war in American history. Jonathan Cristol, author of "...