Provocation as a policy is at least as old as the Bible. The Apostle Paul said the blessings of grace devoted to the Gentiles were in part intended to "provoke" the Jews to jealousy. The blessings intended for them were spurned by the Jews, necessitating this unusual tactic.*
The Pauline model is a stark contrast with the typical frontal diplomacy practiced by the nations of the world. Frontal diplomacy is direct and confrontational. It rewards the belligerent country by granting negative attention not unlike that found in the relationship between a parent and a froward** child.
North Korea is not a parent nation. It lacks international standing to dictate terms. It does not possess the power of genesis. It is truly hermetic.
The unfortunate reality of wayward dynamics is the toll it takes of those who do comply. The resources "wasted" on the redemption of the wayward child are resources rendered unavailable to the compliant child. The dynamics are dysfunctional.
The parent shares in the dysfunction of the wayward child. The parent's identity is reshaped as much by the interaction with the child as the child's identity is shaped by the parent.
The United States suffers from a dysfunctional relationship with North Korea.
Frontal diplomacy is not the only option available to the United States. A policy of disengagement and redirection is an indirect approach to diplomacy.
The resources devoted to the conflict in the Koreas might better serve some other humanitarian front.
Take for example Vietnam. The legacy of Vietnam is with us still. Would not a window of opportunity open between East and West if resources were available to redress the economic and psychologic scars of the Vietnam War?
Would not a life-giving catharsis, closure and reconciliation accrue from the interaction of veterans and Vietnam?
It might be claimed third-party talks are another alternative method of diplomacy and China is best poised to influence North Korea.
True, third-party talks are another method of diplomacy. But China has engaged North Korea in the past without substantial progress.
Progress is defined solely as reconciliation of North and South Korea as one land and the official end of the Korean War.
China is "rewarded" for its role as a mediator without the requisite resolution of the war.
It might also be claimed North Korea could be induced by rewards. This has also been tried; and failed. Direct inducements; i.e., bribes, are not disengagement and "provocation to jealousy".
PROVOCATION TO JEALOUSY
There is a time to move on and leave a people to their own chosen fate. Our fate need not be bound to theirs.
There are plenty of places in the world to engage in humanitarian work where the work will be appreciated and bear good fruit. North Korea is not one of them.
If the United States disengaged from the Korean Peninsula, North and South Korea would have no alternative but to come to terms. China would not likely risk the international repercussions of supporting North Korea in a potential conflict for the sake of Communist ideology alone.
Disengagement and example are positive diplomatic options for a new policy toward North Korea.
If all else fails, we could use nuclear weapons to wipe North Korea off the map. A refugee crisis is China's problem; not ours. All wars must end one way or another.
* Romans 11:11.
** "Obstinate, willful, disobedient, fractious, wayward, unmanageable, difficult".