North Korea does what it does, what it’s always done. The Hermit Kingdom develops weapons to ensure it isn’t attacked by the outside world. It’s RATIONAL! They’re completely isolated in a shrinking world with no real friends – like a bi-polar, schizophrenic, street person they seem dangerous and scary but if you leave them the hell alone (which is what they want) they’re no danger to anybody but themselves.
In that context, like other nations that don’t want to be fucked with, their desire for nuclear weapons is completely rational. They’re not attacking anybody themselves because that would mean complete annihilation for them, they get that. China and Russia deal with them but wouldn’t actually go to war to save them if they did something offensive – what? China wants to sacrifice their future to side with a wacko country? No. North Korea has but one hand to play, no bluffing or some other bullshit: leave us the hell alone or we’ll go crazy on you.
For decades the international community has worked to slow them down by making deals to give them goods they need. The martial mutants among us call that appeasement and always want to take physical action against nascent threats the way Rudi Giuliani-types thought the best way to stop crime was by hassling young black and brown men. It’s intervention for the sake of intervention that achieves more alienation and makes more enemies than it alleviates (for other examples, see Bush administration anti-terrorist policy for well meaning fat head fail).
So there’s no North Korea crisis here, except that which our equally crazy president and his excessively macho administration makes with the help of an alarmist media.
If we just went along our business and pooh poohed their tests we’d be no less safe, without the market rattling language. Saying that “all options are on the table” (Trump) or threatening a “massive military response” (Mattis), or asserting that they’re “begging for war” (Haley) are ALL self-defeating rhetoric. All of that talk gets to the North Koreans and puts their backs against the wall, which is why they want the nuclear weapons in the first place.
Like with our friend the wildly angry street psycho, the best policy is to say nothing directly to them, do not make eye contact, and stay far enough away that they can’t pee on you or swing at you. They are not rational actors, except for that shiv they keep in their sweatpants waistband, and getting in their way is equally irrational and completely unnecessary. Probably true for Trump too, just exchange shiv for Twitter.