Charles Lister was a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center. His research focused on terrorism, insurgency and sub-state security threats across the Middle East, especially in the Levant. Recently, his work has been nearly exclusively focused on assessing the status of the conflict in Syria, especially the makeup of the anti-government insurgency and its various jihadi components. This has included a significant program of face-to-face engagement with the leadership of over 100 opposition groups from across the entire Syrian spectrum.
Countries like Brazil and Ethiopia have shown the dramatic progress that can be achieved through multipronged efforts. Successful strategies have included measures like targeted investments to help small farmers boost crop yields—which can bring a double-barreled gain of increasing farmers’ incomes while increasing food availability for others—to social support programs like school meals, cash transfers and seasonal employment initiatives that ensure even the poorest people can afford food during lean times.
[William] Perry's proposal—'talk first and get tough later'—puts the cart before the horse. North Korea has long maintained a singular obsession with its nuclear weapon and missile capabilities, and has repeatedly made clear it will not negotiate an end to its weapons programs.
Kim Jong-un appears to believe that he can sustain and enhance his weapons programs without major impediments or severe consequences. The United States must impart to Kim that his beliefs are objectionable and wholly contrary to U.S. interests, and that they will be opposed in word and in deed.