Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Are U.S. Diplomacy and Deterrence Working at Cross Purposes With North Korea?

Ellen Laipson, worldpoliticsreview.com

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[P]oor Mr. Tillerson was slapped down publicly this weekend by his boss, who conveyed disdain for the niceties of diplomacy by tweeting that trying to talk to North Korean leader Kim Jung Un was a waste of time. It’s worth examining how diplomacy can serve such a fraught situation, and how it can sometimes be marginalized or deemed unhelpful in others.
But first let’s distinguish between diplomatic work that is used to convey information between governments, and more activist diplomacy that is part of a coordinated policy initiative to achieve an outcome through negotiations. That latter process is often accompanied by other policy tools, such as signaling through public diplomacy, economic carrots and sticks, and military exercises to contain an adversary or remind it of the risks and dangers of not engaging.
One would think that the North Korean crisis called for that integrated approach, of which diplomacy is a vital part, to convey formal messages and begin a process of de-escalation. It was important that Tillerson made his recent remarks about diplomatic channels in China, which is able, in theory, to play a parallel role in persuading Kim Jung Un to back down.
Taking away diplomacy from the U.S. toolbox seems very risky. Trump, however, is not alone in believing that the psychological effects of denying contact could play to the result he seeks. For deterrence to work, the adversary must believe that the United States is willing to use force. Sometimes actions—the movement of naval vessels, exercises with allies, tests of anti-missile systems—speak louder than words. ...

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