Greetings Venerable Viewers! Welcome to Bob’s ESSAYS page, which lists articles by yours truly that have been recently published. You can use the links provided below to go to the actual articles themselves if interested. As new ones are published, they will be added below. Enjoy!
- June 14, 2017.
U.S. policy towards North Korea won’t have credibility until the message is consistent. Recent missteps by Washington damage its believability. Article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2017/06/why-north-korea-cant-trust-washington/?c=1497472941551
- May 25, 2017.
Some obstructions to a successful U.S. foreign policy are unavoidable but the biggest disadvantage is the one that is the easiest to change – and knowledge is key in doing that. It will require require that the U.S. redefine its goals. Article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2017/05/how-the-u-s-can-develop-a-sustainable-and-successful-policy-on-north-korea/
- May 16, 2017.
Forget demonstrations of military force, negotiations, or sanctions: It’s time to prosecute North Korea’s elites and flood the DPRK with foreign media. Article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2017/05/what-kim-jong-un-really-fears/
- April 25, 2017.
With the extraordinary show of force by the U.S. carrier group Carl Vinson along with South Korean and Japanese warships joining in, the North Korean leadership undoubtedly is feeling the danger. Article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2017/04/is-the-u-s-backing-kim-jong-un-into-a-corner/
- April 19, 2017.
What China really wants for the Korean Peninsula is a unified state controlled, at least economically, by them. Seoul and Washington must not misread Beijing’s objectives. China will not help the United States solve the North Korea problem in the way that the U.S. wants. Article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2017/04/what-china-really-wants-for-korea-a-unified-puppet-state-controlled-by-them/
- March 21, 2017.
Pyongyang wants a sit-down with Washington, which refuses, so now the threat is directed at American ally Tokyo for hosting U.S. forces. South Korea is vulnerable as well, of course. Article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2017/03/why-north-korea-is-aiming-its-missiles-at-japan/
- March 17, 2017.
Both treaty and moral commitments require Washington to defend Seoul – but how far do those duties extend if South Korea makes bad choices? There should be no American lives lost in a second Korean War facilitated by Seoul’s ill-advised decisions. Article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2017/03/the-u-s-obligation-to-defend-the-south-from-north-korea-is-not-limitless/
- March 8, 2017.
Everyone should worry about the ultimate goal of the DPRK when it says it wants a “peace treaty” with the United States. Such a treaty would leave South Korea once again vulnerable to attack. Article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2017/03/what-north-korea-really-wants/
- March 3, 2017.
North Korea’s intransigence puts China in a no-win situation and the two countries are no longer “as close as lips and teeth.” Article for NK News online at
- February 20, 2017.
Pyongyang has wisely chosen to remain quiet on the issue due to some rather awkward behavior of its own in the not so distant past. The North has its own skeletons in its closet when it comes to abductions. Article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2017/02/why-is-north-korea-so-quiet-on-the-comfort-women-issue/
- February 2, 2017.
- January 26, 2017.
A spate of recent articles illustrates why getting closure is important, something easier said than done, given the gravity of unsettled historical grievances. Examining the past is critical to peace on the Peninsula and a united front against North Korea. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2017/01/for-the-sake-of-unity-japan-must-make-amends-for-the-comfort-women/
- January 17, 2017.
A recent article by the Communist Chinese news outlet Global Times identified the Korean Peninsula as the most likely place for war or military conflict in 2017, using the phrase “primary target.” Was this merely a prediction or a warning for the new U.S. president? Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2017/01/will-there-be-conflict-on-the-korean-peninsula-in-2017/
- January 8, 2017.
Changes in North Korea give us hope – but we must take advantage of opportunities for change. Injection of information into the North seems an easy way to facilitate change, albeit a slow process. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2017/01/is-progress-really-happening-in-north-korea/.
- December 29, 2016.
There are no good options left in dealing with North Korea. Diplomacy won’t work, sanctions will take too long, and pre-emptive strikes would result in heavy collateral damage to South Korea. It is time to find a way to bring in China. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/12/the-next-step-in-solving-north-korea-getting-beijing-onside/
- December 9, 2016.
The difference between the Kim dynasty and the Godfather family is merely one of scale. Pyongyang’s signing of the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime ought to be taken as a warning of future illegal activities by North Korea. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/12/make-no-mistake-north-korea-is-a-state-level-crime-family/
- December 5, 2016.
Developing another government in North Korea will take time – but mostly execution by qualified interveners. That alone pretty much leaves out the U.S. whose track record in building democratic republics around the world is less than stellar. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/12/what-would-regime-change-in-pyongyang-look-like/
- November 26, 2016.
With the presidential campaign behind him, President-elect Trump has indicated that the U.S. will steadfastly support South Korea in its face-off with North Korea. What will really happen is anyone’s guess at this point since Trump seems to be unpredictable. Even if he does leave Seoul to go it alone against Pyongyang, it is doubtful that there will be much significant change to the status quo on the peninsula. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/11/will-president-trump-abandon-south-korea/
- November 13, 2016.
It is not often that the U.S. gets things right concerning North Korea. This time, there were two steps forward and one step back as the good things were quickly followed by a colossal blunder. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/11/the-u-s-has-finally-got-some-things-right-on-n-korea/
- November 1, 2016.
Recently, there has been too much talk about North Korea. No, this does not mean formal dialog or diplomatic meetings. It refers to all the loose talk about what our specific military targets and our particular objectives are. Such public discussions are irresponsible. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/11/how-to-interact-responsibly-with-north-korea/ for the details.
- October 25, 2016.
The United States has lost whatever bargaining position it might have once had. North Korea now has control over how the Western world turns. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/10/checkmate-n-korea-now-has-control-over-how-the-western-world-turns/
- October 17, 2016.
A recent drive for hard cash in North Korea is hitting the nascent middle class. Bribes or the threat of confiscation of property target the donju and impose a dangerous drain on investment funds. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/10/donju-taxes-n-korea-kills-the-goose-that-lay-the-golden-eggs/
- October 1, 2016.
Kim Jong Un is justified in worrying about knowledge that is damaging his regime, for it is likely to facilitate his downfall. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/09/north-koreas-attempts-to-block-outside-information-will-fail/
- September 12, 2016.
Recent defections by Pyongyang’s slush fund managers, plus some decent detective work, could reveal a lot about how North Korea generates it secret cash funds – and the banks that facilitate the transfers of such caches. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/09/amid-defections-its-time-to-expose-north-koreas-cash-caches/
- September 2, 2016.
South Korea faces a daunting array of missiles and rockets from just across the DMZ. Unfortunately, media focus remains upon intermediate and long range missiles that target Japan and U.S. forces in the Pacific. Analysis article for NK News at https://www.nknews.org/2016/09/all-ready-on-north-koreas-firing-line/
- August 30, 2016.
North Korea’s nukes and missiles complicate some already tense international relationships in Northeast Asia. Various regional states each have issues with others and that prevents full cooperation on dealing with the threats presented by Pyongyang. Analysis article for NK News at https://www.nknews.org/…/u-s-needs-a-long-term-goal-for-no…/
- August 19, 2016.
The stated purpose of sanctions on North Korea is to force dialog, yet when Pyongyang recently hinted that it was willing to discuss its nuclear program, Washington ignored the overture. This is a curious development, given the frequent US claim that it is open to talks at any time. Perhaps the true goal of sanctions is something else entirely. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/08/to-talk-to-north-korea-or-not-whats-it-to-be/
- August 9, 2016.
The current U.S. administration doesn’t recognize the fundamental lessons and truths of war, and fails to understand the basics of negotiation. Obama’s need for a legacy act is a danger to us all, particularly in light of North Korea. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/08/north-korea-makes-obamas-no-first-use-goal-a-very-bad-idea/
- July 29, 2016.
The conventional understanding of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is deeply flawed. Those at the top of the US diplomatic and political bureaucracies often don’t “get” it. This is a disappointing – and frightening – failure. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/07/failure-to-see-things-as-pyongyang-does-holds-back-our-understanding/
- July 15, 2016.
North Korea recently ratified the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. In so doing, the regime will gain access to the very law enforcement practices and tools used against it. We have seen before what happens when Pyongyang is allowed to join international organizations and the results are not pretty. Analysis article for NK New online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/07/un-convention-against-organized-crime-the-farce-of-n-korean-participation/
- July 7, 2016.
After decades of failed negotiations and years of dithering, the world now faces a North Korea that is a nuclear power. The time to do something about it is running out. More “strategic patience” is a decision to accept North Korea as a nuclear power. Analysis article for NK News at https://www.nknews.org/2016/07/out-of-time-on-n-korea/
- June 28, 2016.
North Korean exiles in China’s Yanbian Autonomous Region are losing their affinity for their North Korean homeland. However, that does not mean that they are losing their Korean identity. Those Koreans are well aware of the South Korean ‘wave.” Culture and heritage are important in Asia and that, along with the shared historical ancestry, could exert a powerful pull toward South Korea, not the North. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/06/ethnic-koreans-in-china-not-bound-to-n-korea/
- June 21, 2016.
Sanctions on North Korea are having unexpected results. The regime is losing hard currency and has resorted to using slave labor to accomplish Kim Jong Un’s objectives for the country. Yet again, it is the common person that is paying for all this. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/06/n-korean-sanctions-and-loyalty-work/
- June 14, 2016.
The newly-emerging marchant class in North Korea needs infrastructure in order to flourish. Unfortunately, there is very little of that in the North today, and the challenge is how to create it in that totalitarian regime. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/06/can-the-spark-of-capitalism-in-n-korea-catch-fire/
- June 9, 2016.
The Pyongyang regime has long had entry into the world-wide electronic financial transaction system. This has proved to be a mistake. Justified at first by the believe that any such system must be open to all, allowing North Korea to have access has given it the information necessary to hack it for monetary gain in support of the cash-strapped hermit nation. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/06/n-korea-and-hacking-the-financial-world/
- June 3, 2016.
The history of resistance in North Korea is long and blood, and current protests and opposition in North Korea occur in a more tolerant environment. Nonetheless, dissent today will likely not lead to a collapse of the regime or a coup in the foreseeable future. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/06/protests-not-new-in-n-korea-resistance-perhaps-not-futile/
- May 25, 2016.
Just War Theory proscribes pre-emptive strikes; Article 9 of Japan’s constitution prohibits war. How Japan defends itself against threatened North Korean missile launches is a dilemma as philosophical thought regarding the use of force is confronted by real-word self-defense issues. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/05/n-koreas-missiles-and-nukes-create-dilemma-for-japan/
- May 17, 2016.
HUMINT remains indispensable but is often unreliable; politics, incompetence worsen things. This essay discusses recent embarrassing events as South Korean intelligence gaffes have been exposed and clues to future threats have been missed. The piece is a corollary to an earlier one about “The Kim Who Cries Wolf.” Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/05/whats-behind-s-koreas-intelligence-failures/
- May 11, 2016.
Meaningful dialog involving all members of lifeless Six-Party Talks are not only feasible, but necessary. Due to its own security concerns, Beijing does not have “usable” influence on North Korea, and Washington is the one to engage with Pyongyang. Discussions are undeniably in order – and the one country with which North Korea desires talks most is the United States. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/05/sanctions-dont-preclude-discussions-with-north-korea/
- May 3, 2016.
Sanctions on North Korea will not cause it to cease its nuclear weapons and ICBM programs. However, those sanctions may very well lead to unexpected benefits as good that cannot be exported are instead diverted to the North’s domestic market. Analysis article for NKNews online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/05/sanctions-on-north-korea-unexpected-benefits-possible/
- April 27, 2016.
In order to deal with dictators, one has to understand what motivates them, to be in their heads. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/04/to-get-kim-jong-un-sun-tzu-trumps-clausewitz/
- April 18, 2016.
Resistance is not futile, and some American visitors may not be what they seem. Do we know what is going on and why the U.S. government allows U.S. citizens to got to North Korea but not Cuba? Analysis article for NK News at https://www.nknews.org/2016/04/visitors-to-n-korea-revisited-not-all-cards-are-showing/.
- April 11, 2016.
The recent detonation of North Korea’s fourth nuclear device does not mean that nuclear weapons are the only WMD facing South Korea and its allies. The potential for catastrophe delivered by drones employed by Pyongyang has been downplayed in recent reports. This kind of thinking is dangerously misguided. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/04/north-koreas-nuclear-weapons-are-not-its-worst-threat/
- April 4, 2016.
Restrict tourism with North Korea, not dialogue. Why spend political capital ransoming fools rather than investing in negotiations? Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/04/restrict-tourism-with-north-korea-not-dialogue/
- March 28, 2016.
American foreign policy has been unable to accomplish some rather critical goals in Asia. To achieve its objectives and goals, it could use a decision support system (DSS). Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/03/computers-beat-go-players-can-they-help-beat-kim-jong-un/
- March 22, 2016.
For all its bluster, it is doubtful that N. Korea will attack S. Korea or the U.S. anytime soon. Yet, we must be mindful of the Aesop fable about the boy who cried, “Wolf!” Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/03/the-kim-who-cries-wolf/
- March 15, 2016.
This article explains how muddled thinking on US foreign policy, particularly in Asia, has gotten us nowhere. The piece continues with why things went wrong and what it takes to get it right. It really is a no-brainer. Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/03/what-are-the-wests-long-term-goals-for-n-korea/
- March 8, 2016.
This article discusses the suspected talks between North Korea and the US going on behind the scenes. China is also involved, so can the US rein in China’s territorial ambitions and still expect its help enforcing sanctions? “The US, North Korea, and East Asia Policy: Foggy Thinking at Foggy Bottom?” Analysis article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/03/the-u-s-n-korea-and-east-asia-policy-foggy-thinking-at-foggy-bottom/
- February 21, 2016.
Recent responses by both South Korea and the US to North Korean provocations will likely have significant and unintended consequences. “Not thinking far enough ahead on N. Korea,” Opinion article for NK News online at https://www.nknews.org/2016/02/not-thinking-far-enough-ahead-on-n-korea/
- February 4, 2016.
If one has a good understanding of recent history involving North Korean events, patterns become apparent. Thus, many North Korean events can be forecast – at least to some degree. This article categorizes such events and evaluates their predictability. “Timing is Everything: Why Many North Korean Events Shouldn’t Surprise Anyone,” Forum article for Global Asia online at http://www.globalasia.org/bbs/board.php?bo_table=forum&wr_id=9184&sca=Global+Asia+Forum
- January 12, 2016.
The US pushed Japan and South Korea to hastily resolve their dispute over the young Korean women forced to serve as prostitutes for the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. This was done to serve American interests in presenting a united coalition against Chinese aggression in the East China Sea – at the expense of the so-called “comfort women.” Opinion article for The Hankyoreh at http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_editorial/725832.html
- January 7, 2016.
It won’t be long before the North does succeed in perfecting its road-mobile and submarine-launched missiles as well as a nuclear weapon to ride them. One can’t deny Pyongyang’s goals or its progress, or that it’s time for a more hands-on approach. “Another kind of fallout from North Korea’s fourth nuclear test,” Analysis article for NK News online at http://www.nknews.org/2016/01/another-kind-of-fallout-from-north-koreas-fourth-nuclear-test/
- January 5, 2016.
Following China’s recent incursion into Japanese waters by an armed vessel, the Diaoyu-Senkaku Islands dispute is in the news once again. But who really understands the history and dynamics of this dangerous issue? “Deconstructing the Diaoyu-Senkaku Islands Dispute,” Forum article for Global Asia online at http://www.globalasia.org/bbs/board.php?bo_table=forum&wr_id=9123&sca=Global+Asia+Forum
- December 11, 2015.
Before predicting its collapse, North Korea must be seen for what it is: a failed state. “A disgraceful definition of dereliction of duty by the DPRK,” Opinion article for NK News online at http://www.nknews.org/2015/12/a-disgraceful-definition-of-dereliction-of-duty-by-the-dprk/
- November 29, 2015.
Diplomacy, negotiations, and sanctions have not worked in solving Northeast Asia’s most pressing problems. Progress in resolving serious problems in Northeast Asia requires a new way of thinking. “A remedy for head-in-the-sand thinking on N.Korea,” Opinion article for NK News online at http://www.nknews.org/2015/11/a-remedy-for-head-in-the-sand-thinking-on-n-korea/
- October 26, 2015.
Issues leftover from World War II have crippled Japan’s ability to move forward concerning its relations with other nations in Northeast Asia, and the United States is complicit in this. “Japan and the Unfinished Business of the War in Asia,” Forum article for Global Asia online at http://www.globalasia.org/bbs/board.php?bo_table=forum&wr_id=8900&sca=Global+Asia+Forum
- September 26, 2015.
With all the discussion about the possibility for a collapse of North Korea, the question arises as to what nations are ready for such an event. “Who is prepared for a North Korean collapse?” Op-Ed article for Korea Observer online at http://www.koreaobserver.com/who-is-prepared-for-a-north-korean-collapse-50665/
- August 30, 2015.
The successes and failures of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are discussed before turning to how nuclear ambitions surprisingly play out in Northeast Asia.
“Nuclear Affairs: Present Tense and Past Imperfect,” Forum article for Global Asia online at http://www.globalasia.org/bbs/board.php?bo_table=forum&wr_id=8624&sca=Global+Asia+Forum
- July 27, 2015.
The tense and dangerous period of the mid to late 1960s on the Korean peninsula is analyzed. “Lessons From the ‘Second Korean War,” Forum article for Global Asia online at http://www.globalasia.org/bbs/board.php?bo_table=forum&wr_id=8562&sca=Global+Asia+Forum
- June 2, 2015.
Japan’s refusal to confront its own brutal history from the late 1890s up to the end of World War II has led to some long-lasting problems in Northeast Asia. “Japan’s Wartime Past: How Short-Term Thinking Creates Profound Long-Term Pain,” Forum article for Global Asia online at http://www.globalasia.org/bbs/board.php?bo_table=forum&wr_id=8163&sca=Global+Asia+Forum
- May 29, 2015.
Published through syndication with NK News, this article is a highly edited version of the following essay. Be advised that this version does NOT conform with my thinking. “The art of North Korea’s nuclear brinkmanship,” article for The Guardian online at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/29/north-korea-nuclear-brinkmanship
- May 8, 2015.
An explanation of why negotiations with North Korea have failed to prevent the rogue nation from developing nuclear weapons reveals a highly effective North Korean game plan. “Doing ‘the Dance’ with a nuclear North Korea,” Opinion article for NK News online at http://www.nknews.org/2015/05/doing-the-dance-with-a-nuclear-north-korea/
- March 25, 2015.
A straightforward look at the different historical perspectives of the participants in the Six-Party Talks clarifies why progress in dealing with North Korea has been hard to come by. “In Northeast Asia, History Matters,” Feature article for Global Asia print edition Vol. 10 No. 1 Spring 2015, and online at http://www.globalasia.org/bbs/board.php?bo_table=articles&wr_id=8006
- January 29, 2015.
A brief outline of the historical failures by the United States in dealing with problems on the Korean peninsula is not a confidence builder for the future. “U.S. Ability to Deal With North Korean Collapse Questionable,” Forum article for Global Asia online at http://www.globalasia.org/bbs/board.php?bo_table=forum&wr_id=7809&sca=Global+Asia+Forum
- December 1, 2014.
With little to lose and much to gain, leveraging the recent United Nations Committee of Inquiry report on North Korean human rights violations might elicit change in North Korea. “UN Report May Turn North Korea,” article for Asia Times online international newspaper at http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Korea/KOR-01-011214.html