What the Bolton Memoir Tells Us about the Future of DPRK Nuclear Negotiations
Policy Briefs

What the Bolton Memoir Tells Us about the Future of DPRK Nuclear Negotiations

APLN Policy Brief 65

The following is a summary. Click on the adjacent link to download the full brief.

Ambassador John Bolton’s memoir, The Room Where It Happened, offers something counterintuitively useful to those who wish for progress in nuclear negotiations with North Korea. As Trump’s national security adviser, Bolton not only witnessed and played a role in the most high-profile diplomatic gambits ever wagered between the United States and North Korea—he confesses with self-satisfaction that he helped sabotage them.

What follows is an attempt to mine Bolton’s rendition of US North Korea policy, and especially his take on summit diplomacy in 2018 and 2019, for lessons that might actually improve the prospects of future nuclear negotiations. It identifies and corrects a number of “Boltonisms”—that is, problematic beliefs or assumptions about North Korean nuclear diplomacy that acted as barriers to improved relations and threat reduction.

About the Author

Van Jackson, PhD, is a professor of international relations at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, a senior fellow at the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation & Disarmament, and an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). He is the author of two books on U.S.-Korea relations, On the Brink: Trump, Kim and the Threat of Nuclear War. Previously, he served as a strategist and policy advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and as a Korean linguist in the U.S. Air Force.


Image: Wikimedia Commons.

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