By Daniel W. Drezner
I think the Obama administration has come up with a novel way of dealing with the North Koreans -- get everyone to talk about something else.
Half-seriously, this is not a bad idea, because I'm not sure that anything else is going to work better (beyond my modest Britney Spears proposal). For this decade, the following facts have held:
The one thing that seems different this time around is that North Korea is really pulling out the stops this time to strip away the "pleasing illusion" that the U.N. Security Council will do something. Paradoxically, this might actually goad China and Russia into doing something -- sanctions that might increase the likelihood of a DPRK collapse but also increase the likelihood of Pyongyang altering its behavior before that happens.
If I, rather than my boss, were advising the Obama administration on this issue, the one other deliverable I would aim for in response to this latest provocation would be to get China to join the Proliferation Security Initiative. China has resisted this for a whole bunch of reasons unrelated to North Korea. If Beijing were to reverse course, it would make it much easier to engage in interdiction activities along North Korea's coast. It would also signal to Pyongyang that, yes, there actually are some serious costs to thumbing one's nose at the U.N. Security Council.
Am I missing anything?
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.