Long Road to Pyongyang

Long Road to Pyongyang - AUTHOR Michael J Mazarr TITLE The...

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AUTHOR: Michael J. Mazarr TITLE: The Long Road to Pyongyang: A Case Study in Policymaking Without Direction SOURCE: Foreign Affairs 86 no5 75-94 S/O 2007 COPYRIGHT: The magazine publisher is the copyright holder of this article and it is reproduced with permission. Further reproduction of this article in violation of the copyright is prohibited. To contact the publisher: http://www.foreignrelations.org/public/ AT FIRST glance, the outcome of the North Korean nuclear standoff might appear to be a positive one for the United States. Under the February 2007 nuclear deal negotiated by the Bush administration, North Korea will freeze its main nuclear reactor, at Yongbyon, and allow the return of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors. The agreement also reawakens the slender hope that Pyongyang is on the road to nuclear disarmament. More broadly, Bush officials have pointed to the outcome of the North Korean saga as evidence that the administration has defied--or, as some would have it, never deserved--its caricature as a bellicose, preemption-obsessed neoconservative clique. After the initial confrontation over North Korea's nuclear program, the diplomacy quickly assumed a multilateral dimension and never lost it. Japan has been a valued partner of the administration, its voice influential on North Korea policy; China was fully engaged. Outright military solutions were never seriously considered, and the process was built around negotiations designed to test North Korea's willingness to surrender its nuclear ambitions. But a look back at the history of the Bush administration's approach to North Korea highlights a somewhat different aspect of the White House's foreign policy. The portrait that emerges is not one of a confrontational, militaristic administration; what instead becomes apparent is an image of a White House with extremely poor conceptual strategies and decision-making processes. From the beginning, President George W. Bush, as the nation's chief strategist, has failed to articulate a coherent policy for dealing with North Korea. The administration as a whole entered office without a clear foreign policy doctrine. The president himself appears to have been attached to a number of basic principles: the importance of strength and credibility, the universal appeal of democracy, a Reaganite belief that dictatorships are morally reprehensible and cannot be trusted. But beyond those core attitudes, in the North Korean case the basic elements of strategy--ends, means, and the balance between them--were not lucidly expressed or rigorously debated at the most senior levels of the U.S. government. The result was a strategic muddle, a swirling debate not guided by any clearly calculated long-term vision. And after six years, the process has wound up almost exactly where it
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course 790 319 taught by Professor Licklider during the Spring '09 term at Rutgers.

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Long Road to Pyongyang - AUTHOR Michael J Mazarr TITLE The...

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