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Eli Lake

The Upside of Giving Up on North Korea

It's too late for prevention. Focus on deterrence.
Source: U.S. Department of Energy, via Getty Images

Ambassador Nikki Haley's remarks this week at the United Nations after North Korea's latest missile test sounded like what a superpower should say. If war comes, "the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed." If China doesn't cut off oil to the Hermit Kingdom, "we can take the oil situation into our own hands."

It would have been a great speech in 1997. That was when signatories to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty were loath to violate it. It was before North Korea had tested its first nuclear device. It was before the U.S. cut a deal with Iran to overlook its past nuclear transgressions in exchange for a temporary freeze on its nuclear program and a free pass to test missiles.