trump and kim jong un ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images

Defining Diplomacy Down

Neither South Korea nor the US is anxious to demand from North Korea a full accounting of all its nuclear materials and weapons. But without that, real denuclearization cannot be carried out and verified.

NEW YORK – Some 25 years ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Harvard professor who in the course of his career served as United States ambassador to the United Nations and a US senator from New York, coined the phrase “Defining Deviancy Down.” The phrase was meant to describe a social trend in which behavioral standards declined over time to the point that what was once intolerable became broadly acceptable.

I am reminded of Moynihan’s phrase when I consider the state of diplomacy aimed at bringing about North Korea’s denuclearization. Increasingly, the parties involved, including the United States and South Korea, appear to be relaxing their requirements for what is expected of North Korea. Call it “Defining Diplomacy Down.”

All this has taken on more than a little urgency, because it is now more than four months since the Singapore summit and there is talk that President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un will meet again soon.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

http://prosyn.org/5CV7NKd;
  1. solana105_JUANMABROMATAAFPGettyImages Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images

    The Lost Spirit of the G20

    Javier Solana

    As Japan prepares to host its first G20 leaders’ summit later this month, little remains of the open and cooperative spirit that marked the first such gathering in 2008. But although the United States will most likely continue its protectionist drift, other G20 countries should use the occasion to make a clear case for free trade.

  2. velasco94_YoustGettyImages_headswithbooksstaring Youst/Getty Images

    The Experts We Need

    Andrés Velasco

    Policy gurus spend too much time with others like them – top civil servants, high-flying journalists, successful businesspeople – and too little time with ordinary voters. If they could become “humble, competent people on a level with dentists,” as John Maynard Keynes once suggested, voters might identify with them and find them trustworthy.

  3. benami152_KiyoshiOtaPoolGettyImages_trumpmelaniaeatinginJapan Kiyoshi Ota - Pool/Getty Images

    Don’t Feed the Donald

    Shlomo Ben-Ami

    For Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, appeasing US President Donald Trump is not so much a choice as a necessity: he must prove to Japan’s people and their neighbors, particularly the Chinese, that he knows how to keep Trump on his side. But Abe's strategy won't work with a US administration as fickle and self-serving as Trump’s.

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.