Seven years ago in Prague, the President boldly put the pursuit of global zero at the top of his foreign policy agenda. It brought new energy to the decades-long struggle to end the nuclear threat, and held all the promise of being a defining moment for a historic presidency. Today, it is a promise unfulfilled.
Severely sanctioning North Korea appears to create enormous benefits for China's rivals but few advantages for China. Why would any rational leadership in Beijing go along with America Washington must make a compelling case to the PRC. The U.S. should begin by pointing out how unstable the current situation is, with an unpredictable, uncontrollable regime dedicated to creating a nuclear arsenal of undetermined size
The security establishments of Russia and the United States identify the threat of the spread of weapons of mass destruction as sufficiently serious to compel cooperation despite differences on other matters. Once there is the political support for cooperation the diplomats can exercise their skills successfully.
It's no surprise that the powerful both set the rules and break the rules with impunity. The world system isn't presided over by Miss Manners. For small countries like Greece, there's not much room for maneuver between the regulations of the EU and the general parameters established by globalization. There isn't much room for democracy either, as Greek citizens discovered when they voted in Syriza and attempted to vote out austerity in the more recent referendum. Iran, a larger country that plays a strategic role in the Middle East, has considerably more room for maneuver than does Greece. But it too cannot unilaterally remake the rules of the game. It can only negotiate the best deal it can. In the end, it must open itself up to the kind of inspection regime that more powerful countries would never tolerate.