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Unformatted text preview: 99 Negotiating Survival: The Problem of Commitment in U.S.-North Korean Relations 7 6 Steven Grunau is a Master of Arts candidate at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University ([email protected]). N EGOTIATING S URVIVAL : T HE P ROBLEM OF C OMMITMENT IN U.S.-N ORTH K OREAN R ELATIONS Steven Grunau Rational accounts of the causes of conFict provide an important framework to examine the dispute between the United States and North Korea over the latter’s nuclear weapons programs. Because North Korea depends on these weapons to ensure its survival, it is unwilling to irrevocably surrender its nuclear potential—and associated bargaining leverage—in exchange for U.S. security guarantees that could be withdrawn at any time. Arguing that neither confrontation nor engagement is likely to succeed in eliminating the North Korean threat, this paper advocates a longer-term strategy of integration as having the potential to alleviate some of the tensions in the bilateral relationship. By establishing alternative sources of economic and political power while simultaneously exposing Pyongyang to the pacifying inFuences of international interdependence, integration policies could gradually reduce North Korea’s threat, and perhaps eventually create the necessary conditions to negotiate the elimination of its nuclear weapons and mis- sile programs. 1 Journal of Public and International Affairs, Volume 15/Spring 2004 Copyright © 2004, the Trustees of Princeton University http://www.princeton.edu/~jpia 100 Steven Grunau I NTRODUCTION For more than half a century, North Korea has presented endemic dif- ¡culties for U.S. policy makers. Relations between the United States and North Korea have been tense, with periods of negotiated peace regularly punctuated by threatening actions from Pyongyang. Neither the policy of engagement employed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, nor the more confrontational approach adopted by President George W. Bush has proven capable of addressing the threat posed by a hostile North Korea in pursuit of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. This paper begins with a discussion of theories of rational con¢ict, arguing that this perspective provides critical insights into the source of the U.S.-DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) dispute—namely, the inability of either side to credibly commit to a resolution. While many argue that Pyongyang’s aggressive behavior is a sign of North Korea’s irrationality, a closer examination of DPRK behavior reveals a rational strategy given the constraints facing the country. After considering the ap- plicability of this model for U.S.-North Korean relations, the implications for U.S. policy are discussed. While neither confrontation nor engagement offers a solution to the roots of the con¢ict, the analysis suggests that a long-term strategy of integration has the potential to substantially increase the security of the United States and its allies by rendering cooperation a...
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.
- Fall '11