Truculence reinforced by conciliation guarantees more of the former. But North Korea is no child. Nor should it be treated like one given the catastrophic consequences that war on the Korean peninsula would bring. Yet, analysts tend to exaggerate North's power.
As long as Kim Jong Il's policies remain in force, the North's future remains dismal. The U.S. should watch for glimmers of reform while backing away, allowing South Korea to deal with whatever emerges in Pyongyang.