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Defining Diplomacy Down

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NEW YORK – Some 25 years ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Harvard professor who in the course of his career served as United States ambassador to the United Nations and a US senator from New York, coined the phrase “Defining Deviancy Down.” The phrase was meant to describe a social trend in which behavioral standards declined over time to the point that what was once intolerable became broadly acceptable.

Oct 12, 2018 Jacek Rostowski shows that there is no viable path to a politically and economically acceptable withdrawal from the EU.

I am reminded of Moynihan’s phrase when I consider the state of diplomacy aimed at bringing about North Korea’s denuclearization. Increasingly, the parties involved, including the United States and South Korea, appear to be relaxing their requirements for what is expected of North Korea. Call it “Defining Diplomacy Down.”

All this has taken on more than a little urgency, because it is now more than four months since the Singapore summit and there is talk that President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un will meet again soon.

As is always the case with diplomacy, the question arises as to how to define success. Peace is one possible answer. And to be sure, peace is well worth preserving on the Korean Peninsula, given the enormous human and economic costs that any war would........

© Project Syndicate