July 04, 2022

Will North Korea make Obama’s trifecta? Don’t bet on it

Obama’s moves to improve relations with Cuba, Iran lead to speculation that North Korea may be next

Recent changes in foreign policy towards Cuba and Iran have naturally led to people wondering, and some urging, that there will be a similar shift in policy towards North Korea, with others opposed to the idea. Two points to start with. Firstly, neither rapprochement is a forgone conclusion and the Iran deal, in particular, under attack from Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Israel and the Republicans, may well fall apart. Moreover, if that does happen it will almost certainly be because of domestic struggles in the U.S., though of course it will be blamed on the Iranians.

Secondly, the fact that these are American initiatives does not mean that America is, or has become in Obama’s second term, a peacemaker enticing hostile and recalcitrant nations to the negotiation table. On the contrary, it is probably true to say that all governments around the world want to have good relations with the United States. That often does not apply to the people in those countries, or non-state actors such as Al Qaeda or Islamic State (though more goes on behind the scenes than we are told).