Joshua PollackKorea and the Limits of Coercive Ambiguity

(With apologies to Alexander George.)

North Korea and the Trump Administration turn out to be a pretty heady mix. That blend has been driving Americans to distraction for weeks, and keeping the natsec Twittersphere continuously busy.

With North Korea in mind, I dashed off a thread on some of the basics of nuclear deterrence and the non-use of nuclear weapons. You can find it here:

Now I’d like to offer some observations on Washington’s use of ambiguous threats of force to coerce North Korea. Say what you like about the credibility of such threats; Pyongyang finds them strongly objectionable, and is determined to shut them down.

Here’s the thread, curated a bit for what I hope is coherence.


  1. Steven Hayden (History)

    Wonderful article that considers that DPRK expectations shape their behavior. Their expectations are not what US DOD has controlled. Every hostile act or threat merely reinforced their idea that conflict was inevitable. Sanctions inspired them to weaponize as fast as possible. Hostility was not something that could be avoided and therefor had to be embraced.

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