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Trilateralism and Beyond

Great Power Politics and the Korean Security Dilemma during and after the Cold War

Edited by Robert A. Wampler

Publication Year: 2011

A new study that sheds light on the history of a critical Cold War flashpoint

The fall of the Berlin Wall more than two decades ago brought an end to the Cold War for most of the world. But the legacy of that era remains unresolved on the divided Korean peninsula, which still presents a clear danger for the United States and its allies. Two triangular alliances—one comprised of the United States, South Korea, and Japan, and the other of Russia, China, and North Korea—lie at the heart of the security challenge and all efforts to pursue a final peace treaty.

Trilateralism and Beyond brings together a collection of essays by leading American, South Korean, and Japanese scholars that probe the historical dynamics formed and driven by the Korean security dilemma. Drawing on newly declassified documents secured by the National Security Archive’s Korea Project, along with new archival resources in China and former Warsaw Pact countries, the contributors examine the critical relationship between the United States and South Korea, exploring the delicate balancing act of bolstering the security alliance and fostering greater democracy in South Korea. The volume expands its focus to include Japan and a look at the history and future challenges of trilateral security cooperation on the peninsula; impending difficulties for security cooperation between the United States, South Korea, and Japan; and the trials that Russia and China have experienced in dealing with an often demanding, unpredictable ally in North Korea. The authors move beyond simple images of ideological support by the two great powers to draw a more complex and nuanced picture.

Trilateralism and Beyond offers an essential historical perspective on one of the most enduring challenges for U.S. foreign policy—ensuring stability on the tumultuous Korean peninsula.

Published by: The Kent State University Press

Series: New Studies in U.S. Foreign Relations Series

Title Page

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p. i-i

Copyright Page

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pp. ii-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

The National Security Archive has been a pioneer among scholarly communities in its persistent and successful efforts to gain access to governmental documents and its sponsorship of international research projects in which declassified material forms the basis of historical inquiry. The present volume is a product of such a project, this time focusing on U.S. relations with the two Koreas. The...


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. 1-10

The year 2010 marked the sixtieth anniversary of the outbreak of hostilities on the Korean peninsula. Pyongyang’s attack on South Korea led to three years of conflict that would return U.S. forces to combat in Asia just five years after the end of World War II and, by the end of 1950, find not just American and Korean forces engaged but also the military of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). While the armistice signed in 1953 concluded the UN-sanctioned “police action,” this did...

Part I: U.S. Policy Toward South Korea—The Base of the Triangle

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pp. 11-12

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Ambivalent Occupation: U.S. Armed Forces in Korea, 1953 to the Present

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pp. 13-49

In his annual report to Congress in March 2008, General B. B. Bell, the American commander in Korea, noted that the U.S. alliance with the Republic of Korea (ROK) continued to serve “its original purpose of deterrence against north Korea.” He added, however, that it was “in our best interest to cultivate and expand the Alliance into one that more fully serves our two nations by contributing to a broader strategy for the promotion and enhancement of regional...

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Balancing Security Interest and the “Mission” to Promote Democracy: American Diplomacy Toward South Korea Since 1969

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pp. 50-88

This chapter examines how several U.S. administrations dealt with the issue of democratization in South Korea since 1969, beginning with the effect of the Nixon administration’s troop withdrawal policy, which had the unintended result of working to harden authoritarian rule in South Korea. It will also examine briefly the response of the U.S. Congress to the deteriorating human rights situation in South Korea, along with South Korea’s efforts to mitigate the criticism through its...

Part II: The Evolving Trilateral Framework

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pp. 89-90

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The Evolution of U.S.-Japan-South Korea Trilateral Security Cooperation: Dealing with North Korea and Diplomatic Policy Coordination—The View from Tokyo

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pp. 91-129

Trilateral security cooperation among the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) developed in the post–cold war period, especially in the 1990s. Japan and South Korea are traditional allies of the United States from the cold war era, but the trilateral security cooperation is not synonymous with what some called the triangular alliance during the cold war years. The three countries share a special relationship, but the post–cold war trilateral relation is not exclusive, nor...

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Future Challenges and Opportunities for Trilateral Security Cooperation

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pp. 130-160

The United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have multiple, common security interests and perspectives, but they are far from uniform. Defense cooperation is an important element of relations for all three countries. Varying degrees and forms of cooperation have been achieved in U.S.-ROK, U.S.-Japan, and ROK-Japan security ties in pursuit of their respective interests. Some level of de facto trilateral cooperation has been achieved through parallel management of these respective sets of bilateral security ties....

Part III: Beyond Trilateralism: The Other Triangle—Beijing, Moscow, and Pyongyang

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pp. 161-162

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Between Ideology and Strategy: China’s Security Policy Toward the Korean Peninsula Since Rapprochement

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pp. 163-188

Any Chinese official looking at the Korean peninsula in 1968 would have likely been extremely troubled about the state of China’s influence there. In 1905, Japan’s annexation of Korea had shattered China’s centuries-old dominance over the peninsula. While the Korean War had created powerful bonds between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the new North Korean state, it had also solidified the division of Korea and left South Korea under American hegemony. By the late...

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North Korea and the End of the Cold War, 1985 to 1991

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pp. 189-212

When, in March 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev took the reins of power in Moscow, Soviet relations with their longtime cold war client the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) were basically good and getting better. By the time he left office in December 1991, the Soviet Union had effectively abandoned North Korea even as its embittered, psychotic rulers faced mounting economic difficulties and stark international isolation. The North Koreans had long lost out...


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pp. 213-228

E-ISBN-13: 9781612775357
E-ISBN-10: 1612775357
Print-ISBN-13: 9781606351048

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: New Studies in U.S. Foreign Relations Series