September 24, 2023

The limits of “strategic patience”: How Obama failed on North Korea

A belief in regime collapse has prevented any meaningful engagement with North Korea

During Obama’s administration first term electoral campaign in 2007, his declared willingness to meet leaders of so-called “rogue states” created some expectations in North Korea that the U.S. might pursue direct talks with the Kim regime and open a “new course” in their bilateral relations. Pyongyang had made efforts toward compromise when dealing with progressive American policies, indeed, while increasing tensions in response to conservative ones.

The President's inaugural address in January 2009 let those hopes down. Obama promised that he would offer an outstretched hand to dictatorial states who will unclench their fists.