It’s pretty hard to argue with their logic. Gadhafi gave up his weapons program, and was overthrown and executed. Saddam Hussein never acquired nuclear weapons, and was overthrown and executed. Meanwhile the Kim family has ruled North Korea since 1948, and everyone seems to agree that no matter how it happened, the fall of the regime would set off a cataclysm, one made far worse by the fact that they now have nuclear weapons. Why wouldn’t Kim Jong Un think that his nukes are keeping him safe? We think of Kim as an inexperienced buffoon, which he may well be, but this is one area where he seems to be acting rationally.

Which is why the quasi-charade of the last few years has been, if not desirable, about the best we can hope for: We press them to give up their weapons, they say no; we continue to press without turning it into a crisis, saying that we’re hoping for things to change but knowing that they probably won’t.