Pyongyang envisions itself as the David to Washington's Goliath, the righteous underdog taking aim at the U.S. behemoth with an ICBM for a sling and a hydrogen bomb warhead for a stone.
(KEVIN FRAYER/Getty Images, iStock, Stratfor)
The path toward dialogue with North Korea looks fainter by the day. Washington is calling for increased isolation of the North Korean government, announcing expanded arms sales to South Korea and Japan, and promising to deploy additional strategic assets in and around the Korean Peninsula. Even the South Korean government has said that dialogue may have to wait, since North Korea's latest nuclear test and rapid-fire missile launches threaten to destabilize the security balance in East Asia.
Beijing, meanwhile, has kept up its calls for talks, though it also has advocated stronger sanctions on Pyongyang. The most important thing, China insists, is that the United States and North Korea sit down to talk -- whether in a multilateral, trilateral, bilateral or whatever possible format. From Beijing's perspective, dialogue is the only way to ease the heightened tensions in Korea, while excessive sanctions or coercive tactics are largely ineffective, if not counterproductive....