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To break the cycle of North Korea threats, US must put Kim on his heels (+video)

To break the cycle of threats from North Korea, the United States must take a much more assertive stance. Leader Kim Jong-un must be put on the defensive by sending him a clear warning of preemptive action if America and its allies find themselves threatened.

Kim Jong Un is using North Korea's state-run media to warn tourists in neighboring South Korea to take evacuation measures out of Seoul and South Korea for their own safety.
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The only surprise in the threatening behavior of North Korea is that Americans are so surprised when the North again foments trouble. They wonder if leader Kim Jong-un, like his father, is “crazy.”

But he is simply acting in a way that brings the results he expects from a successful pattern of global extortion. It begins with threats, moves to negotiations, results in economic and political benefits for the North, and is then repeated after Pyongyang spurns agreements.

The way out of this conundrum is for the United States to try a more assertive stance that gives the US the initiative and puts the North on its heels – for instance, by sending Pyongyang a clear warning of preemptive action if America and its allies find themselves threatened.

Of course, putting North Korea on the defensive won’t in and of itself mothball the country's nuclear program or bring a lasting peace to the Korean Peninsula. But it will put the US in a much stronger position to pursue those objectives.

The latest military precautions by Washington are useful to a degree. Welcome, too, are reports that the US and South Korea will respond “in kind” to any military provocations from the North. Still, because these are reactive, proportionate steps, they won’t go far enough to change Pyongyang’s behavior.

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