Rethinking Our North Korea Strategy

The greatest strength of the US—and of western capitalism in general—is shared economic prosperity. Yet when faced with real or imagined enemies, our first response always seems to be to remove that strength from the playing field by imposing economic sanctions. We need new thinking if we ever hope to shake up the status quo.

This is the deal that President Trump should offer to North (and South) Korea. I call it Use Our Strengths (or maybe Let’s Be Grown-Ups.) I think there’s a chance they’d accept this deal, and everyone in the world would benefit.

Welcome to the nuclear club. Now join the nuclear non-proliferation treaties. Do not sell nuclear technology to terrorists or other non-nuclear states. Agree to independent audit of your nuclear processes. Agree to a moratorium on all nuclear weapons testing. Pre-announce any future missile testing, including missile flight paths, which must not traverse any other nation’s territorial borders.

The formal state of war between the US and North Korea, which has technically existed since the 1950s, is now ended. Both sides accept that we are now at peace. Full diplomatic relations will be established as soon as possible. The US continues its existing commitments to the defense of South Korea, including normal training and readiness exercises in and around the Korean peninsula.

The US rescinds its support for economic sanctions against North Korea, and requests international partners to agree. We look forward to working with our new trading partners. Private citizens of the US, South Korea, and North Korea, along with international corporations, are encouraged to engage in enterprises of mutual advantage.

To stimulate the North Korean economy and reward its hard workers, the US hereby purchases the following surplus military equipment from North Korea: [whatever conventional weaponry we’d like them to get rid of] at a price of: [whatever cash they’ll accept to start converting arms factories to civilian economic prosperity.]

All parties accept and respect the existing borders and territories of the sovereign states of North Korea and South Korea, and each revokes any claim to territory held by the other.

The question of reunification of the Korean peninsula shall be determined by a democratic process and timeline agreed to by the people of both Korean nations. The US will recognize the outcome of such a process.