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North Korean Endgame: Is The Regime Rational or Not?

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2016 was the year of the most missile tests conducted ever by North Korea, a total of 24. Since the beginning of 2017, the regime in Pyongyang had ratcheted up the tests, currently at 17, with the promise to reach a new all-time high, and surpass the last year’s record. The last test, conducted symbolically on the 4th of July, marked a new milestone by introducing an intercontinental capability to the Pyongyang’s ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with a range that could reach Alaska and potentially Seattle. It is now believed that North Korea will soon be able to develop and mount miniaturized nuclear warheads to its ICBMs and become an even greater threat to its neighbors, and the United States. The urgency of the current developments, fast outpacing the expected timetable for acquiring such capabilities, has raised the stakes at Washington, Seoul, Tokyo, Moscow, and Beijing, prompting for fast new policies targeting the military belligerence of the rogue state. What are the main policy op…

Trump's NATO Debacle: Elephants on Glass Flooring

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Why Trump's Refusal to Commit Unconditionally to Article 5 is Such a Blow to the Alliance
In international politics, talk is cheap, deception is a virtue, naiveté and missed opportunities cost dearly. These are among the lessons I learned years ago from my professor of IR, John Mearsheimer of University of Chicago. Certainly, Hobbes or Machiavelli would agree with such statements. But, unlike in the anarchic balance of power world, the micro-cosmos of collective security systems and is built on unconditional common commitments and mutual trust. Security alliances’ deterrent power rests, among other things, on the Musketeerian doctrine of “all for one and one for all,” as well as on the mutual resolve to apply it. NATO’s Article 5 plays that precise role and it has been the cornerstone of the alliance’s deterrence power for near seven decades. That is why Donald Trump’s speech on May 25th in Brussels to the heads of the member-states of the alliance, and his failure explicitly and …

Why North Korea's Nuclear Bullishness Is Good News for US Foreign Policy

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North Korea tested a nuclear device this past Memorial Day weekend in attempt to call the US bluff. The Great Powers rushed to condemn the test, which was expected, and the UN's Security Council is expected to deliver a strong resolution against N. Korea. South Korea, frightened and frustrated, agreed to back the US plan to search N. Korea's boats for weapons. Pyongyang has warned that such a move would be considered an open declaration of war. Now South Korea must call the North's bluff.  But the real victims of the Dear Leader's power game will be Russia and China, along with his tacit supporters. Conversely, he US actually stands to benefit from this escalation. Here is why.

Before looking at the implications of this new situation, and the possible ways to respond, we must address: a) why the escalation happened and b) why it happened now. There are at least two possible scenarios as to why Pyongyang tested the nuclear devices, and launched the missiles. The first…