Applying lessons learned in the North Korean conflict

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Mara Karlin, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy & Force Development and associate director of the Strategic Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University, talks about how looking at America’s past endeavors on the Korean peninsula could inform future policy on the region.


North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has expressed interest in holding talks with President Trump. This unprecedented event could lead to a new paradigm in U.S. foreign policy, but a glimpse at the United States’ history on the Korean peninsula provides some perspective on the situation.

“The United States got some things wrong in the Korean conflict,” said Mara Karlin, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy & Force Development and associate director of the Strategic Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University. “During that war, there was on the whole very little expectation that the Chinese would get involved, it turns out they did, and they were the game changer.”

Karlin said that the effects of the Korean War are still felt today on the peninsula.

“When you go to the border with North Korea, you see a lot of emotion on the part of South Koreans. The views of issues like unification ring louder when they think of the future. Much more loudly than they do in Washington.”