June 8th, 2009
10:22 AM ET

Reining in Pyongyang

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/05/us.northkorea/art.bosworth.gi.jpg caption="State Department representative Stephen Bosworth is traveling to Asia to discuss North Korea policy."]

Henry A. Kissinger
The Washington Post

The Obama administration entered office determined to give negotiations with North Korea every opportunity. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hinted that she was seriously considering a visit to Pyongyang. Stephen Bosworth, a distinguished scholar and moderate diplomat, was appointed principal negotiator

These overtures were vituperatively rejected. Pyongyang refuses to return to the negotiating table and has revoked all its previous concessions. It has restarted the nuclear reprocessing plant it had mothballed and has conducted nuclear weapons and missile tests. It has said the Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953 no longer applies.

The explanation for this may lie in a domestic struggle for succession to the clearly ailing "Dear Leader," Kim Jong Il. North Korea's leaders also seem to have recognized that no matter how conciliatory U.S. diplomacy, its goal of the abandonment of North Korea's nuclear weapons capability cannot be accepted. They apparently have concluded that no degree of political recognition could compensate them for abandoning the signal (and probably sole) achievement of their rule, for which they have obliged their population to accept unprecedented oppression. They may well calculate that weathering a period of international protest is their ticket to emerging as a de facto nuclear power.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Henry A. Kissinger • North Korea
December 5th, 2008
06:54 PM ET

Kissinger's advice to Hillary

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/06/06/clinton.unity/art.clinton.aipac.gi.jpg caption="Senator Hillary Clinton"]
Henry A. Kissinger
The Washington Post

President-elect Barack Obama has appointed an extraordinary team for national security policy. On its face, it violates certain maxims of conventional wisdom: that appointing to the Cabinet individuals with an autonomous constituency, and who therefore are difficult to fire, circumscribes presidential control; that appointing as national security adviser, secretary of state and secretary of defense individuals with established policy views may absorb the president's energies in settling disputes among strong-willed advisers.

It took courage for the president-elect to choose this constellation and no little inner assurance - both qualities essential for dealing with the challenge of distilling order out of a fragmenting international system. In these circumstances, ignoring conventional wisdom may prove to have been the precondition for creativity. Both Obama and the secretary of state-designate, Sen. Hillary Clinton, must have concluded that the country and their commitment to public service require their cooperation.