Whilst the diplomatic de-escalation of tensions in early 2018 is a welcome affirmation of Churchill’s observation that ‘jaw jaw is better than war war,’ the apparent concessions that North Korea has offered are not particularly damaging to Pyongyang’s interests. The array of concessions that Kim Jong Un has offered do not meet the standard of costly signals. North Korea has, on multiple occasions, offered concessions to U.S. and South Korean interests, only to renege on them with embarrassing haste. It is thus necessary to go beyond a superficial reading of DPRK’s apparent concessions.
It is time that the United States and its allies plan for the long haul of supporting the Government of Afghanistan instead of remaining fixated on the immediate crisis at hand. For far too long the international community has tried and repeatedly failed to create a durable peace on a Western timeline. By dividing the insurgency into smaller manageable groups, pressuring amenable Afghan leaders, and aligning the win sets across all levels, the United States may eventually help the Government of Afghanistan bargain a tenable peace and achieve an honorable exit from its longest war.