News Tip: North Korea Missile Test Illustrates U.S.' Inconsistent Foreign Policies

A Duke political scientist says the Obama administration has had a muted response to North Korea's planned nuclear missile test.

North Korea is set to test its long-range missile capabilities sometime this week. The Obama administration's muted response to this news is quite different than its vocal opposition to Iran attaining nuclear capabilities, says a Duke political scientist.

Kyle Scott

Visiting assistant professor of political science at Duke University


Scott is the author of three books, most recently "Federalism" (2011), and dozens of articles and op-eds on a range of issues in domestic and international politics.


"President Obama has not been nearly as vocal and out-front about stopping North Korea as he has been about stopping Iran. The Republicans don't take a strong stand against North Korea, either.

"One reason why our leaders don't take as hard a line against North Korea as they do against Iran is because of China. China backs the North Korean nuclear program and the government. Our elected officials know that if we attack North Korea, we will suffer consequences in our trade relations with China. And when our domestic economy is struggling to come back, politicians don't want China to stop buying our debt or close its borders to our manufacturers looking to set up shop in China.

"This may also be why the U.S. is reluctant to go into Syria when it was all too willing to launch a coordinated attack against Libya. The atrocities committed by Assad against the Syrian people are no less terrible than those committed by Qaddafi against the Libyan people, but Libya did not have the backing of Russia and China on the U.N. Security Council as Syria does."