Critics of the Obama administration's North Korea policy charge flatly that it is a "failure." They argue that "time is not on our side," sanctions are counterproductive, and "strategic patience" means "doing nothing." They assert that the Obama administration is unwilling to negotiate with North Korea unless it first gives up its nuclear weapons program, that it is foolishly and fecklessly "outsourcing" its North Korea policy to Beijing while waiting for the North Korean regime to collapse, and that, out of incompetence or malevolence, it has irresponsibly refused to respond to North Korean proposals, such as for negotiations to replace the current armistice agreement with a peace treaty. David Straub, associate director of Shorenstein APARC's Korea Program, will explain why such criticisms are ill-founded and not constructive. He will outline the real-world parameters within which the Obama and previous U.S. administrations have formulated and implemented North Korea policy, assess how the strategic situation on the Korean Peninsula is evolving, and forecast how the next U.S. administration is likely to approach the North Korea problem.
David Straub has been associate director of the Korea Program at The Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center since 2008. In 2007-08, he was the Pantech Fellow in the Korea Program at Shorenstein APARC. He retired from the U.S. Department of State in 2006 as a Senior Foreign Service Officer after a thirty-year career focused on Northeast Asian affairs, including service as the director of the Department's office of Korean affairs and participation in "New York Channel" talks with the North Koreans as well as the first three rounds of the Six Party Talks. He also accompanied former President Bill Clinton to Pyongyang in 2009 for the return of two incarcerated American journalists. In addition to Stanford University, Straub has taught U.S. foreign policy at Seoul National University's Graduate School of International Studies and Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.