The dominant media narrative on North Korea hypes fearmongering and plays to critics of the Trump administration.  Ironically, President Donald Trump and his senior officials largely are following a bipartisan script used by previous administrations.

U.S. policy towards the Korean peninsula is remaining steady under pressure, focused on diplomacy backed by force and undisturbed by the summer’s political and military drama.  The Trump administration unwaveringly is standing resolutely beside President Moon Jae-in and the people of the Republic of Korea.

In the face of Kim Jong Un’s saber rattling and significant advances in nuclear and missile technology, the U.S. administration is hewing to a well-established two-track, carrot-and-stick policy that blends hard and soft power and preserves stability while looking for meaningful ways to reduce tensions.

The hard, non-negotiable side of Trump administration policy strengthens U.S. and ROK defenses to ensure that deterrence does not suddenly and catastrophically fail.  It supplements this military readiness and capability with a variety of tools, including sanctions, designed to bring pressure on North Korea.  Some sanctions are aimed at those entities doing business with North Korea and thereby abetting Kim’s weapons of mass destruction programs.  An ancillary benefit of secondary sanctions and shows of force are to ensure that China understands the consequences of its tepid pressure placed on Pyongyang.

The softer, pragmatic side of the current U.S. approach searches for meaningful diplomatic engagement with North Korea.  Quiet, back-channel diplomacy is the main vehicle for this activity, which necessarily receives less publicity than high-level meetings and statements designed to deter aggression and reassure allies.

To successfully deal with North Korea, there is no substitute for seamless coordination and close consultation between Seoul and Washington.  Dispatching General Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to meet with officials in Seoul before heading to Beijing, are just among the most recent attempts to execute a policy of negotiation from strength.

Source: Real Clear Defense

Analysis: The author, Dr. Patrick M. Cronin, Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) in Washington, D.C., concludes, “Steady diplomacy backed by strength will win the day.” We agree, but this wasn’t always the case. The previous administration took a much less forceful approach to foreign policy, North Korea included, and while President Obama was not as openly bombastic with the North Koreans as President Trump is, we also feel like his public willingness to lay down the gauntlet when necessary has also served his “negotiate from a position of strength” strategy very well.

We agree, but this wasn’t always the case. The previous administration took a much less forceful approach to foreign policy, North Korea included. And while President Obama was not as openly bombastic with the North Koreans as President Trump is, we also feel like the current president’s willingness to publicly and forcefully lay down the gauntlet before Kim Jong-un when necessary has also served his “negotiate from a position of strength” strategy very well.