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A Different Kind of Crisis

by Michael Auslin

The standoff over North Korea’s nuclear weapons heads into uncharted territory

At the Passover festive meal, the key question, asked by the youngest child at the table, is: “Why is this night different from all other nights?” The question is asked every year, and every year the set response is designed to highlight why this night really is distinguishable from all the rest.

With similar regularity, North Korea precipitates a crisis over its nuclear and missile programs. And, as at the Jewish seder, the same questions are always asked and the same answers always given. Why is this Korean crisis different from all other Korean crises? This time, the North Koreans will launch a successful intercontinental ballistic missile; this time, the U.S. Navy will shoot it down; this time, China really is upset and will pressure North Korea; this time, Washington will make a grand bargain with Pyongyang or Beijing; and on and on. Like the traditional Passover readings, the questions and answers never vary.

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