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THREE FAILURES OF THE PAST, THREE STRUCTURES OF PEACE* J. J. Suh Today the Six Party Talks stand at a critical juncture between sliding back into an insecurity dilemma and moving toward a security community. It is thus critical that we understand what has contributed to the current stalemate and what may help us move forward. This commentary critically analyzes the past efforts to denuclearize the Korean peninsula in order to identify the root causes of their failure and a way to overcome them. The first section identifies the three failures of past efforts that led to North Korea’s nuclear tests in 2006 and 2008, and suggests that if the three mistakes are repeated, the region will slide back into insecurity. In order to create a peaceful, denuclearized Korean peninsula, therefore, a prescription is needed that tackles the three failures. The second section suggests that such a solution must entail three structures of peace. The commentary concludes by proposing concrete measures that can be adopted in * This commentary is a revised version of a talk presented at the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies, The City College of New York, New York City, on April 23, 2010. I thank the conference organizers for giving me the opportunity to give a talk and Mel Gurtov, editor of Asian Perspective, for inviting me to turn it into a commentary. I also gratefully recognize the research support provided by the World Class University program through the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (Grant Number: R32-20077). ASIAN PERSPECTIVE, Vol. 34, No. 2, 2010, pp. 201-208. Commentary the immediate future in order to jumpstart the stalled negotiations and move forward to building the three peace structures. Three Failures of the Past What are the three failures of the past that led to Pyongyang’s nuclear tests? The first one is the failure to recognize that the North’s nuclear problem is part and parcel of the interdependence of security concerns . The George W. Bush administration adopted a preemptivestrike doctrine in response to the sense of insecurity created after the September 11, 2001 attacks, but its new strategic posture exacerbated Pyongyang’s sense of insecurity.1 Pyongyang sought to restore its security by turning to what it called a “nuclear deterrent ,” but its response ended up exacerbating Washington’s proliferation concerns. The North Koreans’ insecurity interdependence is the structural cause of the nuclear problem, and its solution requires a symmetric approach that equitably addresses the insecurity of both parties. Just as Washington desires a resolution of its nonproliferation concerns, Pyongyang seeks to have its security concerns addressed. A one-sided solution that fails simultaneously to address the other’s concern only exacerbates the situation because it gives all the more reason for the undercut party to take countermeasures. The second failure is the failure to acknowledge that it is because they are caught in the state of war that Washington and Pyongyang are concerned about the other’s means of violence. Washington does not worry about British nuclear weapons; nor does Pyongyang worry about Chinese weapons.2 It is the state 202 J. J. Suh 1. Jae-Jung Suh, “The Imbalance of Power, the Balance of Asymmetric Terror: Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) in Korea,” in John Feffer, ed., The Future of US-Korean Relations: The Imbalance of Power (London: Routledge, 2006), pp. 64-80. 2. Alexander Wendt makes a similar argument about the cold war in Social Theory of International Politics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999). of enmity that is generating the security concerns that Washington and Pyongyang have about each other. Likewise, the state of enmity that exists between the two Koreas and between North Korea and Japan is the root cause of the security concerns they have about each other. While it is possible to put in place a stopgap measure that deals with a particular symptom, an enduring solution would have to confront the political cause of their insecurity. Finally, the third failure is the failure to address the region’s power politics that complicates Pyongyang’s and Washington’s strategic calculations. North Korea, for example, test fired the Taepodong missile...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2288-2871
Print ISSN
0258-9184
Pages
pp. 201-208
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-22
Open Access
No
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