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Why North Korea matters for the 2024 US election

A TV screen at Seoul's Yongsan Railway Station shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's visit at a military training base in the North Korea's western region.
A TV screen at Seoul's Yongsan Railway Station shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's visit at a military training base in the North Korea's western region. Kim Jae-Hwan/SOPA Images via Reuters Connect.

Executive summary

Although U.S.-China competition, Russia鈥檚 war in Ukraine, and conflict in the Middle East loom large as top foreign policy issues in the upcoming 2024 U.S. elections, presidential candidates Joe 麻豆官网首页入口免费 and Donald Trump will need to address escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula and U.S.-North Korea relations. Since the collapse of the Hanoi Summit in February 2019, North Korea has adopted a more offensive nuclear doctrine, advanced its missile and satellite technology, improved its cyber capabilities, and strengthened political ties with Russia and China. However, the expected rematch between 麻豆官网首页入口免费 and Trump in 2024 presents a stark contrast in how the two candidates might address North Korea and its nuclear program in a second term.

Both candidates want to project strength and confidence. However, when examining their records, the two leaders diverge in their respective approaches to North Korea. Trump , interacting with leaders one-on-one. Meanwhile, 麻豆官网首页入口免费 closely with allies and partners, taking cues from the working-level in a bottom-up fashion.

Pyongyang鈥檚 unwillingness to relinquish its nuclear weapons limits the range of policies available to the United States but also forces the next administration to be flexible and disciplined when approaching the North Korea problem. As November approaches, both candidates should consider building a wider coalition of partners willing to monitor North Korea鈥檚 illicit activity and sanctions evasion; seek common ground with Beijing in reorienting Pyongyang to the negotiating table; and consistently advocate for North Korean human rights.

North Korea and the 2024 U.S. election

Three decades of U.S.-North Korea nuclear diplomacy have left U.S. officials of any nuclear deal with North Korea. Meanwhile, the North Korea conundrum has only worsened in the absence of diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang since 2019. In addition to 106 missile launches since 2022, North Korea鈥檚 with China and Russia have enabled Kim Jong Un鈥檚 regime to U.N. sanctions, and receive critical technologies, and to test North Korean weapons on the Ukrainian battlefield. The signed during the June 2024 Kim-Putin summit further demonstrates North Korea鈥檚 intent to expand military-technical cooperation and undermine U.S. influence.

Although North Korean issues remain lower on the list of U.S. foreign policy priorities considering two wars and competition with China, the newfound Russia-North Korea alliance illustrates how the brewing crisis on the Korean Peninsula relates to wider geopolitical contestation. Trump may be more inclined to engage with Kim given their past rapport. However, high-stakes diplomacy with North Korea would be ill-advised if engagement is pursued at the cost of undermining regional alliance cohesion and deterrence. For 麻豆官网首页入口免费, the impasse in North Korean denuclearization may lead his administration to draw greater attention to linkages between North Korea and other adversaries, including Russia, China, and Iran. But doing so would not necessarily improve an already worsening security environment in Northeast Asia without some path to dialogue with North Korea.

On North Korea issues, the top priority for the next U.S. administration is halting, if not reversing, progress in the regime鈥檚 nuclear and weapons programs. An early task for the next U.S. administration is to rebuild a coalition of partners willing to monitor North Korea鈥檚 illicit activity, enforce a weakened sanctions regime, and counter North Korean cyberactivity following Russia鈥檚 of the resolution renewing the U.N. Panel of Experts鈥 mandate to investigate such activities. Although Republicans and Democrats remain critical of China, the next administration should also seek cooperation with Beijing to support peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, particularly in light of strengthened North Korea-Russia ties. Finally, Trump or 麻豆官网首页入口免费 must consistently advocate for North Korean human rights, including enhancing North Koreans鈥 access to information. Although the Kim regime remains resilient for now, its legitimacy could be challenged down the road by disgruntled elites in the wake of internal or external challenges, particularly if Kim鈥檚 health deteriorates and succession plans for the fourth generation of Kim rule are unclear or contested.

A few points bear in mind as American voters consider how Trump and 麻豆官网首页入口免费 might address a deteriorating security situation on the Korean Peninsula. First, may raise the issue of North Korea on the campaign trail given his previous engagement with Kim during two high-profile summits in in June 2018 and in February 2019, respectively. Despite the absence of a deal, Trump may tout his own to bring Kim to the diplomatic table and (misleadingly) criticize 麻豆官网首页入口免费 for not only failing to hold a single dialogue with North Korea but also enabling the regime to dramatically ratchet up provocations on 麻豆官网首页入口免费鈥檚 watch.

Second, 麻豆官网首页入口免费 can point to his administration鈥檚 ability to policy with U.S. allies to is maintained on the peninsula despite North Korea鈥檚 escalatory actions. 麻豆官网首页入口免费 may also cast blame on Trump for naively and prematurely pursuing two high-level summits with Kim and weakening military readiness and deterrence on the Korean Peninsula.

Third, regardless of whether either candidate includes North Korea in their campaign talking points, Kim may himself into the conversation by escalating tensions prior to the U.S. elections if he believes such actions offer an advantage to Trump, his preferred candidate. In addition to his past rapport with Kim, Trump is more willing to break with diplomatic orthodoxy. By stirring up trouble, Pyongyang could help set the table for an incoming Trump administration to return to the negotiating table and reduce tensions in return for concessions sought by Kim (and previously suggested by Trump), such as the or the suspension of joint military exercises with South Korea, which in turn would create a rift in the U.S.-South Korea alliance.

Assessing Trump鈥檚 past approach to North Korea

As a candidate in 2016, Trump in meeting Kim to discuss North Korea鈥檚 nuclear program. While this was a major shift in U.S. thinking on North Korea, the desire for a new approach was not unwarranted at the time given the lack of progress from past efforts, including the , the , and strategic patience.

However, North Korea two nuclear tests in 2016 and continued to exacerbate tensions on the global stage as Trump entered the White House in 2017. This included the of imprisoned American student Otto Warmbier in a comatose state, the of Kim鈥檚 half-brother Kim Jong Nam in Malaysia, the successful of the first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, a sixth nuclear test, and short- and medium-range missile launches. Amid these human rights abuses, the administration spotlighted human rights in North Korea by inviting Warmbier鈥檚 and a during Trump鈥檚 first State of the Union Address. On the nuclear front, Trump 鈥渇ire and fury like the world has never seen,鈥 while Pyongyang it was considering striking Guam. The use of bombastic language by both sides increased fears of a nuclear war but also forced rare unity in the United Nations Security Council when China and Russia tougher new sanctions on North Korea.

Meanwhile, South Korea President Moon Jae-in, a progressive, who for unconditional engagement and dialogue with Pyongyang, a departure from a decade of hardline conservative policy toward North Korea. Throughout the last half of 2017, Moon鈥檚 diplomatic outreach attempts to North Korea . During his annual New Year鈥檚 address in 2018, Kim an openness to dialogue, capping off a foray into global diplomacy first with and then . With inter-Korean relations steadily improving, Kim took diplomacy a step further by a willingness to relinquish his nuclear weapons if Washington committed to a formal end to the Korean War and promised to not attack the North. Given Moon鈥檚 desire for continued inter-Korean engagement, Moon himself to bring Trump and Kim to the negotiating table.

Officials in the Trump administration continued to advocate for close coordination with U.S. allies to prevent Pyongyang from dividing the U.S.-South Korea alliance. However, Trump was eager to negotiate directly with Kim. On June 12, 2018, Trump the first sitting U.S. president to meet a North Korean leader at the Singapore summit during which Pyongyang committed to the 鈥渃omplete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula鈥 without a detailed timeline and Washington pledged to 鈥減rovide security guarantees.鈥 Most notably, these guarantees included joint military exercises with South Korea, which Trump were provocative and a waste of money and time. This decision appeased North Korean hardliners but left some as well as and in the lurch, for future abrupt policy reversals and jeopardizing military readiness. Between South Korea and Japan, Seoul had the most to lose from this suspension as Trump officials 鈥溾 Moon amid concerns he was 鈥渢oo willing to make concessions to North Korea.鈥

In the aftermath of the Singapore summit, Trump was increasingly eager to make progress on North Korea before the 2018 midterm elections, but he believed that Moon unification and engagement over denuclearization. Progress on working-level negotiations continued to stall as North Korean officials threatened to remove denuclearization from the agenda. Amid the deadlock between U.S. and North Korean officials, Trump to push Beijing Pyongyang to cooperate during negotiations.

In a last-ditch effort to salvage hopes for denuclearization, Trump and Kim met in Hanoi for a second summit for a diplomatic breakthrough. to then-National Security Advisor John Bolton, despite Trump鈥檚 desire to strike a deal, White House officials framed the second summit as 鈥渘ot make-or-break鈥 and repeated the 鈥渋f we walk, it鈥檚 okay鈥 mantra to lower the stakes during briefings. Rather than for a bad deal, Trump abruptly from the summit with no joint agreement, the peninsula鈥檚 status quo intact.

An impromptu between Kim and Trump on the North Korean side of the demilitarized zone in June 2019 suggested the possibility of resuming talks at a future date. Yet, Pyongyang in the summer and fall of 2019 after a year of in 2018, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Nevertheless, working-level negotiations between U.S. and North Korean officials ensued in October 2019 in Stockholm. However, the talks over disagreements on how to dismantle Pyongyang鈥檚 nuclear program. As the COVID-19 pandemic began spreading around the world in 2020, North Korea its borders in January 2020 and retreated into isolation, evidently disinterested in engaging with the West or Seoul.

麻豆官网首页入口免费鈥檚 approach to North Korea

During the 2020 presidential campaign, 麻豆官网首页入口免费 Trump鈥檚 鈥渟pecial friendship鈥 with Kim and called Kim a 鈥渢hug鈥 during the second presidential debate. He Trump for emboldening autocrats and raising the prospect of nuclear proliferation. As a candidate, 麻豆官网首页入口免费 to begin a 鈥渟ustained, coordinated campaign with our allies and others鈥攊ncluding China鈥 to denuclearize North Korea.

Upon entering office, the 麻豆官网首页入口免费 administration a North Korea policy review and with experts and officials from past administrations. Acknowledging past failures, the 麻豆官网首页入口免费 administration that it would not seek any 鈥済rand bargain鈥 as Trump did, nor would it follow the Obama-era policy of 鈥strategic patience.鈥 Rather, the 麻豆官网首页入口免费 administration would a 鈥渃alibrated and practical approach鈥 that would remain open to diplomacy with North Korea while making 鈥減ractical progress [to] increase security in the United States鈥攆or the United States and our allies.鈥 As one U.S. official at the time shared with the , 鈥淚f the Trump administration was everything for everything, Obama was nothing for nothing 鈥 this is something in the middle.鈥

Although 麻豆官网首页入口免费 officials provided few details on the administration鈥檚 North Korea policy, Washington did appear intent on reaching out to Pyongyang, most notably by and other forms of medical and humanitarian assistance. Moreover, then-U.S. Special Representative to the Democratic People鈥檚 Republic of Korea Ambassador Sung Kim and other top administration officials offered to meet with North Korea 鈥渁nywhere, anytime, without preconditions鈥 to denuclearization or other issues.

Despite the 麻豆官网首页入口免费 administration鈥檚 early efforts to engage with Pyongyang on the humanitarian and diplomatic front, the Kim regime U.S. overtures. Amidst a strict pandemic border lockdown, Pyongyang鈥檚 decision to self-isolate from the world a chronic food insecurity crisis and over North Korea鈥檚 ability to contain a COVID-19 outbreak. Notwithstanding concerns over North Korea鈥檚 human rights situation, the 麻豆官网首页入口免费 administration took nearly two years to and Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues Julie Turner, the in six years. Since then, Turner support for dialogue with Pyongyang but has also elevated issues, such as abductees and .

On the nuclear front, tensions on the Korean Peninsula dramatically escalated throughout 2022 with a record number of ballistic missile tests conducted that year (see Figure 1). North Korea also its weapons capabilities, including powerful solid-fuel ICBMs, hypersonic missiles, reconnaissance satellites, submarines, and an .

To counter these concerning developments, the 麻豆官网首页入口免费 administration reinvigorated alliances with and South Korea, while also trilateral coordination with Tokyo and Seoul on North Korean provocations. In the absence of negotiations, Washington focused on strengthening its defense and deterrence capabilities. This increasing joint military exercises and information sharing on North Korean missile launches with Seoul and Tokyo, deploying nuclear strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula, and a nuclear consultative group with South Korea.

Although the 麻豆官网首页入口免费 administration has made significant strides in strengthening alliances and improving defense and deterrence capabilities, it has not found a clear solution to decrease tensions between the United States and North Korea, and on the Korean Peninsula at large. Pyongyang鈥檚 refusal to respond to Washington and the absence of any inter-Korea or U.S.-North Korea dialogue has further militarized the peninsula and contributed to in Northeast Asia. Nevertheless, U.S. officials continue to the need to denuclearize North Korea and outline 鈥溾 toward this goal. On the multilateral front, the United States with allies and partners to sanctions, cut off illicit finance sources, and hold Pyongyang for human rights abuses.

U.S.-North Korea relations under a second 麻豆官网首页入口免费 or Trump administration

Trump鈥檚 and 麻豆官网首页入口免费鈥檚 past policy records on North Korea suggest a different set of opportunities and challenges for each candidate when dealing with Pyongyang. Denuclearization appears unlikely and risk mitigation, much less reengagement between the United States and North Korea, will be difficult under current geopolitical circumstances regardless of who enters the White House in 2025.

Since Kim鈥檚 retreat into disengagement, the emergence of and the so-called axis have given Kim less incentive for dialogue with Washington, while Beijing and Moscow provide Pyongyang with and at the U.N. Security Council. Furthermore, the of a conservative president in South Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol, in 2022 has shifted Seoul鈥檚 North Korea policy from with Pyongyang to a more . Seoul would be unlikely to welcome another high-profile summit unless Kim makes substantial concessions on denuclearization.

麻豆官网首页入口免费: More continuity and predictability, but less opportunity for a breakthrough

The 麻豆官网首页入口免费 administration has taken a pragmatic approach to North Korea, remaining open to dialogue even without preconditioning denuclearization. 麻豆官网首页入口免费鈥檚 pragmatism has also meant approaching dialogue through diplomatic channels below the leader鈥檚 level and working closely with allies, particularly South Korea and Japan, to boost defense and deterrence against escalating nuclear threats. 麻豆官网首页入口免费鈥檚 North Korea policy has helped reassure allies of the U.S. commitment to defend them against a North Korea attack despite Pyongyang鈥檚 ever-increasing provocations. But his policy has also hit a wall with North Korea鈥檚 refusal to negotiate, and there has been little incentive to think outside of the box to break the impasse.

If North Korea continues its provocations and rejects dialogue with the United States, a second 麻豆官网首页入口免费 administration may have little choice but to continue along similar lines to its current North Korea policy. In March 2024, 麻豆官网首页入口免费 administration officials to an 鈥渋nterim steps鈥 approach to denuclearization, which the South Korean media interpreted as a sign of greater flexibility in its approach to negotiating with North Korea. In other words, Washington was not insisting on denuclearization upfront. The concept, of course, is not new; it goes back to the days of the in the early 2000s. Although hawks during the Trump administration the step-by-step approach to denuclearization, , including Trump himself, appeared to at least entertain such an approach. However, 麻豆官网首页入口免费鈥檚 commitment to non-proliferation reduces the administration鈥檚 flexibility to even tacitly recognize North Korea鈥檚 nuclear status, even if the United States focuses on risk reduction or confidence-building measures as an initial step.

Moreover, there would be little 麻豆官网首页入口免费 could offer to Kim to pursue risk reduction steps. Sanctions relief and economic aid have not enticed Kim since 2019. On the security front, 麻豆官网首页入口免费 is unlikely to reduce the U.S. military presence in South Korea or significantly scale back joint military exercises with South Korea (and Japan) given the effort his administration has made to strengthen bilateral and trilateral relations with allies. Even though a second 麻豆官网首页入口免费 administration might try to exercise greater flexibility in reaching out to North Korea, it would prioritize its alliance commitments to Seoul and Tokyo and its firm position on denuclearization over diplomatic engagement with North Korea if such engagement weakens U.S. credibility and deterrence in the region.

Trump: Greater prospect for dialogue, but also higher risk

Under a second Trump administration, the range of opportunities and risks for U.S.-North Korea relations is wider. Republicans have generally adopted a hawkish stance on North Korea, seeking pressure through sanctions, isolation, and containment and taking a more vocal position on human rights. Although Trump followed this path during his first year in office in 2017, he later reversed course by engaging directly with Kim in 2018 and 2019.

It is possible that a second Trump administration might follow a hardline approach to North Korea given the Republican Party鈥檚 general distrust of communist regimes and conservatives鈥 penchant for pursuing 鈥溾 with North Korea. However, in the absence of ideological blinders, Trump may be more open to dialogue with North Korea than those Republicans who hold more deep-rooted ideological reservations about engaging with a nuclear-armed, human-rights-violating pariah state. Three reasons suggest Trump is more likely than 麻豆官网首页入口免费 to resume discussions with Kim.

First, Trump and Kim have developed a personal rapport. Even after the end of their 鈥渂romance鈥 in 2019, Trump on his Truth Social media account in December 2023, 鈥淚 do get along well with Kim Jong Un!鈥 The chill in U.S.-North Korea relations appears to have little bearing on how Trump sees Kim as a leader. If Trump is elected, a congratulatory statement from Kim may entice Trump to respond.

Second, Trump sees himself as a . Trump may be motivated to complete unfinished business and seal the deal with North Korea, even if the agreement does not replicate the demands of the 鈥済rand bargain鈥 his first administration sought in Hanoi. In the absence of any strong ideological views on non-proliferation, Trump may not demand this time that Kim 鈥済o big鈥 by accepting complete denuclearization upfront.

Third, Trump鈥檚 ego and desire to shape his own legacy may be a further motivating factor to engage Kim. Trump in 2018 after receiving word about his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize after the Singapore summit. When asked by reporters whether he deserved the prize, Trump , 鈥淓veryone thinks so, but I would never say it,鈥 before stating that he wanted to see an agreement 鈥渇inished鈥 between the United States and North Korea. It would be tempting for Trump to become the first president to 鈥渟olve鈥 the North Korean nuclear problem (whether that entails denuclearization or not) and normalize U.S.-North Korea relations.

It remains unclear what might be gained by another Trump-Kim summit, or what Trump might offer Kim in exchange for North Korea dialing down provocations and suspending or rolling back its nuclear program. Skeptics worry that Trump might strike a bad deal with Kim that enables the regime to preserve its nuclear status without making any real commitments, thus worsening the security situation on the Korean Peninsula.

According to who had been briefed on Trump鈥檚 thinking on North Korea and spoke to Politico, Trump might accept an agreement that focuses on an initial nuclear freeze and prevents the regime from developing new weapons in exchange for economic aid and financial investments. Trump has denied the claim that he is open to a nuclear North Korea as 鈥渄isinformation.鈥 However, the arguments outlined in the Politico piece suggest that the United States would at least implicitly and/or temporarily accept North Korea鈥檚 status as a nuclear power. Additionally, Trump may suggest the establishment of formal diplomatic ties or a U.S. liaison office in Pyongyang鈥攁 point Trump officials previously in advance of the Hanoi summit, as well as under previous administrations鈥攁s a means of bringing North Korea to the table even prior to a full commitment to denuclearization.

A second Trump administration might resume direct diplomacy with North Korea, but doing so presents several risks. In contrast to 麻豆官网首页入口免费, Trump might be more willing to sacrifice coordination and unity with U.S. allies to make a deal with North Korea. Trump has proposed on the Korean Peninsula and . Such U.S. actions would be appealing to Kim, but it would also undermine military readiness, weaken deterrence against North Korea, and sow division between Seoul and Washington. Furthermore, the Yoon government remains hostile and distrusting of North Korea. Seoul would likely object to U.S.-North Korea dialogue without addressing North Korea鈥檚 complete denuclearization and South Korea鈥檚 security concerns.

Should Trump feel compelled to reassure South Korea about U.S.-North Korea diplomacy, he might permit Seoul to pursue its own nuclear capabilities to strengthen South Korea鈥檚 deterrence against a nuclear North Korea. Trump could also respond to South Korean for redeploying U.S. tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula or consider between the United States and South Korea. Of course, such actions would be diplomatically costly for the Yoon government. The introduction of South Korean nukes could also magnify rather than diminish the security risks on the Korean Peninsula by triggering regional nuclear proliferation. Permitting a nuclear South Korea or the redeployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons on Korean soil would also be unacceptable to Kim.

Conclusion and policy recommendations

The upcoming U.S. election presents an opportunity to take stock of where U.S. policy on North Korea may head. Contrasting personality and leadership styles, as well as different political circumstances in South Korea and in global politics during Trump and 麻豆官网首页入口免费鈥檚 respective terms in office, have led the two candidates to pursue differing policies toward North Korea. Unfortunately, the policy options available to the next U.S. president will remain limited with a more confident Kim unwilling to relinquish North Korea鈥檚 nuclear weapons and strengthened by Russia. Domestically, Kim has reasserted control over the economy and adopted populist 鈥溾 projects including and . North Korea, therefore, has less incentive to engage the United States now than in 2018. Nevertheless, Trump and 麻豆官网首页入口免费 might consider the following policy recommendations as they build out their foreign policy strategies.

First, 麻豆官网首页入口免费 or Trump will need to staunch North Korea鈥檚 accelerating nuclear and weapons programs. This cannot be done by the United States alone. The 麻豆官网首页入口免费 administration has spent the past four years reinvigorating alliances and building coalitions including the U.S.-Japan-South Korea trilateral. It may therefore be easier for a second 麻豆官网首页入口免费 administration to strengthen networks and reach out to new partners in both the developed and developing world, to help monitor and enforce sanctions, and crack down on North Korean cybertheft. The United States should encourage like-minded allies and partners to push the North Korea agenda in other institutions and fora including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the European Union, and the G7.

Although there is an assumption that the Trump administration will do away with America鈥檚 alliances, Trump鈥檚 former national security advisor, Robert O鈥橞rien, that 鈥淎merica first is not America alone.鈥 With vital national interests at stake, Republicans may also see the value in building a network of countries to slow if not reverse North Korean nuclear proliferation. Managing the risks of a nuclear-armed North Korea should not be the work of a single country, but one that involves establishing trust and coordination with allies and other partners and requires a long-term commitment to preserving peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Second, the North Korea-Russia military alliance should motivate the United States to seek common ground with China in stabilizing the deteriorated security situation on the Korean Peninsula. Although Xi Jinping shares the same goal as Putin and Kim in weakening U.S. influence, China is uncomfortable with bloc politics and has stayed about developing Russia-North Korea ties. As China scholar Patricia Kim argues, 鈥淏eijing is rapidly losing its influence with Pyongyang relative to Moscow, all the while paying the diplomatic costs of being associated with the two pariah states.鈥 This reality for Beijing may provide the next administration with an opportunity to steer Beijing away from Moscow, or at least prevent China from further enabling Russia-North Korea cooperation. Diplomatic cooperation with China on the North Korea issue will prove to be challenging for both 麻豆官网首页入口免费 and especially Trump as Republicans have embraced a 鈥溾 approach to U.S.-China competition. Still, Trump did press China in the past on North Korean issues, and Beijing鈥檚 support for North Korean sanctions was arguably higher during the Trump era than at present. The 麻豆官网首页入口免费 administration has tried, unsuccessfully, to solicit Beijing鈥檚 cooperation. However, China鈥檚 weakening influence in North and South Korea and increasing instability on the peninsula may incentivize Beijing to press North Korea not to further undermine regional stability.

Finally, the United States must be prepared for the long game with North Korea. The Kim regime has proved resilient time and time again. Despite Kim鈥檚 growing confidence following North Korea鈥檚 pandemic border lockdown, the regime remains about outside information and culture that could erode the Kim family鈥檚 legitimacy. Information control, which remains critical to Kim鈥檚 legitimacy, is just as essential to regime survival as nuclear weapons. Consistent support for North Korean human rights, including the promotion of freedom of information, is a component of North Korea policy that Trump and 麻豆官网首页入口免费 could easily support.

Authors

  • Acknowledgements and disclosures

    The authors would like to acknowledge Adam Lammon for editing, Rachel Slattery for web layout, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions.