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On a Warpath Paved With Rational Decisions

Jul 17, 2017 | 09:15 GMT
A war between the United States and North Korea is not inevitable, but it is growing increasingly likely — and not because their leaders are crazy.

The United States and North Korea would rather avoid a conflict on the Korean Peninsula, which would be complicated and costly for all parties involved.

(CHUNG SUNG-JUN/Getty Images)

War is rarely the first option for countries trying to preserve or enhance their strategic positions. The United States and North Korea alike would rather avoid a conflict on the Korean Peninsula, which would be complicated and costly for all parties involved. No one wants war; each side strongly prefers an alternative path to resolve the core issues underlying the crisis. Yet their differing strategic imperatives and desired end-states leave them little room for compromise. As North Korea draws closer to achieving long-range missile capabilities, something it sees as a security guarantee, the United States faces mounting pressure to act. But as Washington tries to coerce North Korea to end its quest for more sophisticated arms, Pyongyang feels compelled to accelerate its nuclear weapons and missile development. Each country is merely acting to preserve its interests. But their interests are driving them closer to a physical confrontation....

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