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Introduction Robert A. Wampler 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 not put an end to tensions rooted in the continued division of the peninsula, an unstable situation that has repeatedly threatened regional and world security and stability. Events during the Clinton, Bush II, and Obama administrations have underscored the fashion in which the security situation on the peninsula can swing from the depths of intense mutual suspicion and distrust to renewed hopes for a peaceful resolution of the Korean security dilemma and back again to the familiar denunciations of the United States and its allies issued from Pyongyang. The efforts of the Clinton administration to bring a halt to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, which culminated in the 1994 Agreed Framework, seemed to bring the hope of a wider rapprochement and mark a move toward the longdelayed peace treaty. What followed, however, was the increase in tensions that followed Pyongyang’s admission in late 2002 that it had continued to pursue a nuclear weapons program in violation of the 1994 agreement. The subsequent twists and turns of the ongoing efforts to engage in meaningful negotiations about the nuclear issue and defuse the crisis, which was underscored by North Korea’s successful test of a nuclear device in 2006, as well as continued provocations, such as the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel in March 2010, amply demonstrate the frustrations and sense of déjà vu surrounding talks with Pyongyang as well as the uncertainties marking all efforts to address the North Korean security threat. Complicating efforts to deal with North Korea were the reemergence of tensions between the United States and its South Korean ally over how to respond 1 Wampler text.indb 1 3/27/12 1:42 PM 2 trilateralism and beyond to the North Korean nuclear threat as well as the proper mode for overall political engagement with Pyongyang. President George W. Bush’s inclusion of North Korea in the “axis of evil,” anti-American rhetoric by candidates in South Korean presidential elections, unfortunate incidents involving U.S. troops, opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, and public protests that fed on long-standing popular suspicions about the role the United States has played in South Korean domestic politics, particularly during the period of repressive military government, all underscored a generational push for a more independent-minded South Korea charting its own course.1 As Victor Cha and David Kang have stressed, “Democracy , development, and generational change have given rise to a younger, affluent, and educated generation in their 20s and 30s who see the United States not as a savior in the Korea war, but as an overbearing ally with a burdensome military footprint in the center of the capital city and a past supporter of military-authoritarian regimes in Korea.”2 The studies collected here explore the historical foundations of Korean security relationships, the challenges these relationships have faced and will face in the future. The studies center on the two crucial and entwined trilateral security relationships that have been mutually engaged on the peninsula: U.S.-Japan-South Korea and North Korea-China-Russia. The efforts, centering on these entwined triangular relationships, to deal with the recurring political and military crises that have marked the unstable security situation on the Korean peninsula are a central and critical motif of the cold war and the post–cold war eras. These efforts have moved on parallel tracks, involving the long-standing South Korean security alliances with Washington and Tokyo as Seoul followed its difficult path from authoritarian military rule to democracy and the continued struggle—not limited to the United States and its allies but also plaguing Moscow and Beijing—to penetrate the veils of secrecy, apparent paranoia, and unpredictable behavior that have characterized the Stalinist-style repressive North Korean communist regime of Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong Il. These studies provide a foundation for assessing the record of trilateral security cooperation among the United States and its...


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