The Great Debate

North Korea’s very bad year and China’s role in it

By Andray Abrahamian
July 22, 2015
File photo shows a picture of North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung on a building in the capital Pyongyang

A picture of North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung decorates a building in the capital Pyongyang in this October 5, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/Files

North Korea could double its number of nuclear warheads by next year

By Sharon Squassoni
May 11, 2015
A woman from an anti-North Korea and conservative civic group attends a rally marking the fifth anniversary of the sinking naval ship Cheonan in central Seoul

A woman attends a rally in Seoul marking the fifth anniversary of the sinking of the South Korean naval corvette Cheonan, by what is thought to have been a North Korean torpedo, March 26, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

How far is Japan willing to go to back the United States?

By Peter Van Buren
April 27, 2015
Handout photo shows U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships steaming in formation during their military manoeuvre exercise known as Keen Sword 15 in the sea south of Japan

U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships steam in formation during their military manoeuvre exercise known as Keen Sword 15 in the sea south of Japan, in this November 19, 2014 handout provided by the U.S. Navy. REUTERS/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Cavagnaro/U.S. Navy/Handout

Building the perfect leader: North Korean propaganda’s secret sauce

By Andray Abrahamian
April 23, 2015
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un greets Korean People's Army pilots during a visit to the summit of Mt Paektu

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un greets Korean People’s Army pilots during a visit to the summit of Mt. Paektu, April 18, 2015, in this photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 19, 2015. REUTERS/KCNA

Years after the famine, here’s how North Koreans really get by

By James Pearson and Daniel Tudor
April 13, 2015
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during a visit to the November 2 Factory of the Korean People's Army (KPA)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiles as he gives field guidance during a visit to the November 2 Factory of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, August 24, 2014. REUTERS/KCNA

Options for the U.S. if Iran breaks a nuclear deal

By Bennett Ramberg
April 1, 2015

lbj & mac President Lyndon B. Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara in the White House in Washington, July, 27, 1965. LBJ Presidential Library/Yoichi Okamoto

The success of any nuclear framework agreement negotiated by Iran and the P5+1 (United States, Britain, Russia, Germany, France and China) this week ultimately will be determined not by the signing of a final accord in June but by Tehran’s fidelity to nonproliferation in the years and decades to come.

U.S. sanctions fail two-thirds of the time. And allies are often to blame

By Bryan Early
January 5, 2015
Handout photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guiding the multiple-rocket launching drill of women's sub-units under KPA Unit 851

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides a multiple-rocket launching drill in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, Dec. 30, 2014. REUTERS/KCNA

How to bring North Korea to its cyber-knees

By Matthew Gault
December 23, 2014

North Korean leader Kim gives field guidance at the Kim Jong Suk Pyongyang Textile Mill in this undated photo released by KCNA in Pyongyang

President Barack Obama, during his year-end news conference,  promised a proportional response to North Korea’s cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. “They caused a lot of damage,” Obama said, referring to the theft and exposure of corporate records and private emails. “And we will respond. We will respond proportionally, and we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose.”

How to pay North Korea back for Sony hack? Hit Kim’s cronies where it counts – their wallets

By Kent Harrington
December 18, 2014

North Korean leader Kim visits the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to mark the 61st anniversary of the victory of the Korean people in the Fatherland Liberation War

Moviemakers strive to outdo themselves with fantastic plots, super-heroes and special effects. But the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment this month proves that, even in Hollywood, reality is still stranger than fiction.

Relax, North Korea isn’t going to nuke the U.S. over a movie

By Paul French
December 17, 2014

A security guard stands at the entrance of United Artists theater during the premiere of the film "The Interview" in Los Angeles

Okay, it’s official. Some people may be getting a little overwrought about North Korea’s possible reaction to the release of “The Interview,” that much-hyped movie where Kim Jong Un is (fictionally) assassinated by the CIA, via bumbling patsies played by James Franco and Seth Rogen. Since news of the comedy’s plot leaked, there have been some typically, and not all that surprising, strong words from Pyongyang.  Then Sony Pictures got hacked, possibly by North Korea or possibly by someone else entirely. Incidentally, a major corporation being hacked by an unknown assailant that’s either a dictatorial rogue state, or some teenagers who want to watch movies for free, is a much better plot idea than that of “The Interview.” Cue much outpouring of punditry and comment (this commentator and pundit included) on what’s going on.