The best thing President Obama can do when it comes to North Korea? "Keep American soldiers far, far away," writes Peter Beinart at the Daily Beast. The only way US-North Korea relations will improve is if the North Korean regime loses power and the two Koreas subsequently reunify. China, which provides 90% of North Korea's energy and 80% of its consumer goods, is increasingly "frustrated with its destitute, bellicose neighbor," and thus softening on reunification. Beijing has long propped up North Korea because of lingering fears over reunification, including whether the US military would be stationed on its border afterward.
The Obama administration should be doing "whatever it can, short of war, to hasten North Korea’s end," which means reassuring Chinese leaders that "North Korea’s collapse ... won’t mean American troops north of the 38th parallel" because "America will never station troops on what is now North Korean soil." It's not simple, certainly, "but the point is that the more the US assuages China’s concerns about a reunified Korea, the more likely a reunified Korea becomes," Beinart writes. China will remain a rival, but by working with it, we can topple "the most evil regime on the planet." Click for Beinart's full column.