96 Foreign Aff. 2 (2017)
Where to Go from Here: Rebooting American Foreign Policy

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Where to Go

From Here

Rebooting American
Foreign Policy

Richard   N.  Haass

       very new U.S. administration
       takes several months to staff
       itself properly, master new and
often unfamiliar responsibilities, and
develop a comprehensive strategy for
American  foreign policy. The Trump
administration's start has been espe-
cially rocky. But the administration has
already executed a noticeable course
shift on foreign policy and international
affairs, exchanging some of its early
outsider rhetoric and personnel for
more  conventional choices. If it can
continue to elaborate and profession-
alize its new approach, it could achieve
a number  of successes. But for that to
happen, the administration will have to
act with considerably greater discipline
and work to frame its policies toward
regional and global issues as part of a
coherent, strategic approach to inter-
national relations that benefits the
United States, its allies and partners,
and the world at large.

THE  CHALLENGE IN ASIA
President Donald Trump  has properly
concluded that the greatest threat to
U.S. national security is North Korea's

RICHARD  N. HAASS  is President of the
Council on Foreign Relations and the author of
A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy
and the Crisis of the Old Order.


accelerating nuclear and missile pro-
grams, which may give Pyongyang  the
ability to launch nuclear-tipped mis-
siles at the continental United States
in a matter of months or at most years.
The president also seems to have con-
cluded, correctly, that several decades
of U.S. policy, mostly consisting of
sanctions and on-again, off-again nego-
tiations aimed at ridding North Korea
of nuclear weapons, have failed. The
challenge now is to choose among the
three plausible alternative options for
moving  forward: acceptance, military
intervention, or more creative diplomacy.
A fourth possibility, that of regime
change, does not qualify as a serious
option, since it is impossible to assess
its chances or consequences.
   In theory, the United States and
other powers could accept a North
Korean nuclear capability and rely on
deterrence to lower the risk of an
attack and missile defenses to reduce
the damage  should one occur. The
problem is that deterrence and defenses
might not work perfectly-so the accep-
tance option means living with a per-
petual risk of catastrophe. Moreover,
even if Pyongyang were deterred from
using the weapons it developed, it
would still be able to transfer them to
other actors for the right price. And
even if its nuclear capability were never
used or transferred, acquiescence to
North Korea's continued possession of
nuclear weapons would further dilute
the nonproliferation regime and con-
ceivably lead Japan and South Korea to
rethink their nonnuclear postures.
   Military intervention could be either
preventive (moving deliberately to destroy
a gathering threat) or preemptive (moving
quickly to head off an immediate one).


FOREIGN AFFAIRS


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