The New York Times on Wednesday allowed the liberal think tank Center for American Progress to dictate foreign policy advice on North Korea, but experts disagree.
The Times used Adam Mount, a senior fellow at CAP, as the basis of a news story arguing in favor of canceling the U.S. and South Korea's annual war games that begin next week. The games, the Times said, could be used as an appeasement measure to get the North Koreans to the negotiating table.
Mount argues for "curtailing" the games, which involve 30,000 U.S. troops and more than 50,000 South Korean troops preparing against an attack from the North, saying the move would be an "important gesture" to Kim Jong-un.
"There is an opportunity here to put an offer on the table," Mount told the Times. "Even if the United States does not want to suspend or cancel the exercises entirely, he said, ‘we absolutely should be considering ways to modify their scope.'"
Experts, however, disagreed with Mount, a "pretty sassy" professor at Georgetown University, where he received his Ph.D. and would curse out loud to "appear cool/young."
David Maxwell, a decorated veteran who served 30 years in the U.S. Army before retiring as a Special Forces colonel, dismissed Mount's idea as a "fool's errand."
"Anyone who wants to cancel exercises has to realize that we make ourselves weaker and vulnerable," said Maxwell, who served five tours in South Korea.
Maxwell told the Times a previous attempt to cancel the war games in the early 1990s in exchange for North Korea allowing inspections of its nuclear program failed. The Times notes the North "quickly reneged and continued to develop its nuclear program."
"I think it is a fool's errand to think that our postponing or canceling exercises will cause a positive reaction from the North," Maxwell said.
Shin Beom-chul, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul, also told the Times that canceling the games is ill-advised.
"If we concede our military drills as an incentive to North Korea, North Korea will see that as a weakness of South Korea and the United States," Beom-chul said. "To bring North Korea back to the table, we need pressure and to bring problems to Kim Jong-un."
Even Robert Carlin, a retired analyst of North Korea for the CIA who agrees the games should be scaled back, said Mount's proposal is futile because it shows weakness and appears to "reward North Korea's bad behavior."
"It would take a pretty extraordinary act of leadership to do something like that," he said. "You're going to take a lot of flak from a lot of people."
"You have a huge crowd saying, ‘You've given in to this dictator and he will take advantage of us,'" Carlin added.
The Times is in line with the rest of the mainstream media on pushing appeasement by canceling the war games. CNN warns the games could "escalate the crisis," while Time said the military preparedness would "inflame tensions."