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By restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba, President Barack Obama clearly admitted that Washington’s five-decade-old strategy of isolating the Caribbean nation had failed. So why is the White House doubling down on a similar policy toward North Korea?

On Jan. 2, the U.S. president levied additional sanctions on Pyongyang for the alleged hacking of Sony’s computer network. The new measures are largely symbolic, targeting 10 officials and three state organizations the U.S. says play key roles in cyber attacks, weapons proliferation and other illicit activities. Yet there’s little reason to believe even stronger sanctions might unseat North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un — any more than they did his father Kim Jong Il or, for that matter, the Castro dynasty in Cuba.

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