Is Increased Communication the Secret to Deescalating North Korea?

Email a Friend
Pyongyang, North Korea
From and

Here's a recipe for global domination: Insult nearly all of your neighbors, cancel a cease fire, promise to teach lessons to old enemies, and then turn New York City into a sea of fire.

The latest threats from North Korea seem to single out American military assets on Guam, which include B-2 and B-52 bombers and F-22 stealth fighters.

"The moment of explosion is approaching fast…" says the General Staff of the North Korean People's Army in a statement from North Korean state media.

Nicholas Burns served as under secretary of state at the State Department for President Bush. He's currently professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

According to Burns, North Korea’s recent threats are simply a means to more resources: “They are trying to get the attention of the United States, of south Korea and Japan to return to these 6 party talks. They are trying, actually, a form of International diplomatic blackmail in order to get what they want, which is food and fuel and credit to run their state controlled economy. So they make these charges hoping other countries will react.”

Perhaps the answer here is to stop tiptoeing around and snickering about the strange threats and practices of North Korea and just invite them to the White House, or send the Secretary of State to Pyongyang. It'd be diplomacy where you actually talk with your enemies, unlike the United States which does not speak directly to North Korea or its other implacable enemy Iran.

Kishore Mahbubani is the dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore and author of "The Great Convergence."

Mahbubani agrees with Burns that North Korea is acting in a very strange fashion, but he also thinks that the United States is to blame. “If you really believe that you want to avoid a war...for 2,000 years people have discovered the best way to avoid a war is to talk to your enemy. And I’m very puzzled that no American is advocating that today.”