Category Archives: North Korea

North Korea and Climate change

Nothing could be more alien to the debate on North Korea today than to mention climate change. The whole media circus seems to be set up specifically to avoid the topic. Certainly everyone is assuming, at least in South Korea, that the point will be to make North Koreans consumers who eat a lot and waste a lot, use smart phones and live in big apartments. It is often assumed to be fine for South Korean companies to exploit low labor costs in North Korea in order to increase profits.


But the recent interview on Fox News of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by Chris Wallace on Fox News (May 13, 2018) was particularly revealing.


Mike Wallace: I want to go back to the comment – and Kevin just played it – your comment on Friday that if Kim chooses the, quote, “right path,” the U.S. is prepared to work with North Korea to, quote, “achieve prosperity.” What does that mean in terms of direct U.S. investment in North Korea? And are we, as part of this, willing, in effect, to guarantee Kim’s security, that regime change will be off the table?
Mike POMPEO: Chris, here’s what this will look like. This will be Americans coming in – private sector Americans, not the U.S. taxpayer – private sector Americans coming in to help build out the energy grid – they need enormous amounts of electricity in North Korea; to work with them to develop infrastructure, all the things that the North Korean people need, the capacity for American agriculture to support North Korea so they can eat meat and have healthy lives. Those are the kind of things that, if we get what it is the President has demanded – the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea – that the American people
will offer in spades.
We must remember that the Trump administration has pulled out of the Paris Accord and thrown all science out of the Environmental Protection Agency. it is undoing regulation on pollution in the United States and encouraging the massive consumption of oil and coal, in the face of overwhelming evidence of the destruction of the atmosphere which will be catastrophic for all of humanity. Here, clearly the intention is for US corporations to take over the North Korean energy grid, encourage North Koreans to buy American meat (some of the least healthy around and no longer subject to serious inspection). No doubt this also involves the exploitation of North Korean coal (which ought to be left in the ground) to fuel this effort and of course all sorts of deals for the exploitation of natural resources.
Sounds a lot like what was done to Iraq. Perhaps we might suggest that the low energy consumption in North Korea is not entirely a negative and that developing organic farming in North Korea is far more important than importing US beef. In any case, it would not be unreasonable to demand that we know what agreements have been signed.

Korea’s True Security Challenges (Essay)

Korea’s True Security Challenges

 July 20, 2017

Emanuel Pastreich


Decay of the media and of the decision-making process

The Korean peninsula faces a daunting array of security problems that will require tremendous efforts over the long term to overcome.  But the most serious security risk of all is the complete inability of the Korean people to understand what the real threats are that they face. The media, the entertainment industry and a vast culture of denial has combined forces to distract and misdirect the Korean people away from the real dangers of this age.

Koreans are told over and over by their newspapers and TV news that the greatest risk is of a nuclear missile being launched from North Korea which will destroy Seoul. In fact, North Korea’s military posture is entirely defensive and there is no chance that they would launch a missile at South Korea except as a response to an attack.

By contrast, Koreans are all but unaware of the collapse of the ecosystem in Northeast Asia, the death of the seas (and the fish that they depend on for food) as a result of warming waters, the spread of deserts and shortage of water which threaten to engulf the Korean Peninsula in an enormous desert stretching into central Asia. They have not even started planning for the rising oceans, a massive infrastructure project that will leave Korea with no budget to pay for fighter planes, tanks or other outdated military equipment.

 As opposed to the highly unlikely attacks from North Korea that are hyped in the privatized media, the threats to the environment are essentially 100% guaranteed.  So any consideration of the issue of security on the Korean Peninsula should start out by noting that most people in South Korea are fed a diet of fictions that makes it far more difficult for them to grasp what the dangers are. They are often convinced that North Korea is about to rain down nuclear weapons on them even though that it almost impossibility.

Nor is the death of the ecosystem the only threat that the Korean Peninsula faces.

The rising inequality in Korean, and East Asian, society is tearing the fabric of society apart and will lead to serious conflicts domestically and internationally in the next fifteen years. The media covers North Korea in a less objective manner because it is controlled by concentrated capital that makes tremendous profits from military defense systems. Sources for unbiased information about how the world works like newspapers and universities are so deeply linked to the stock market and the secret world of capital investments that they are incapable of articulating an alternative viewpoint.

Although Koreans are aware that the concentration of wealth, and the death of a public sector in Korean society over the last thirty years has led to greater inequality, they do not understand exactly how and they are not encouraged to think deeply about this crisis. Even extremely liberal groups do not offer opinions on the profound contradictions of a decadent industrialized society. They do not advocate that banks or telecommunications companies should be highly regulated public monopolies. But that assumption was common sense to liberals and conservatives in the 1950s.

The death of sources of information independent from the stock market and foreign investment banks, the death of local community groups that gave meaning to the lives of ordinary people through regular meetings, cooperative efforts and mutual aid has left many Koreans exposed and profoundly lonely. We can see this fact evident in the high suicide rate for both youth and the elderly.

Life has been taken over by a ruthless consumption- driven culture that holds up as the definition of “happiness” the immediate satisfaction of the individual through the eating, drinking or watching of things that give a short-term thrill. Even politics has been reduced to a popularity show with little interest in the details of policy, or long-term developments and overwhelming fascination with the latest statement on the social media.

Such an environment makes it impossible for citizens to even comprehend what “security” is about and the politicians have become babysitters who tell citizens what they want to hear. As the old saying goes, “the people do not want leaders, they want magicians.”

The careful analysis of social, environmental and economic factors that are destabilizing Northeast Asia has been replaced by sensationalism. The rise of the video game culture has played a role in this grotesque transformation of the public sphere. Many Koreans (and Japanese), including adults, spend their time playing video games that glorify ruthless military conflict and make it appear as if shooting guns and blowing people up is not only good fun, but solves all problems. This gaming culture makes so effort to explain how security has become a more complex problem, nor to draw attention to social inequity or the collapse of the ecosystem.  Video games suggest that it is split-second response that is critical for security. That myth is critical to the military industrial complex.

So the best business is pumping up the stock value of military contractors through articles that suggest that a new nuclear submarine, or THAAD anti-missile system will protect Korea even though there is no evidence that this is the case. The profits from building submarines or anti-missile systems are staggering  but there is no scientific evidence that they do anything but increase the risk of conflict. Sadly, Korea is being pulled in the direction of the United States economic system, a criminal state  in which a large percentage of wealth is siphoned off in the interests of “defense” to pay for useless weapons systems that make the rich richer. The media is happy to play its profitable role. IN fact, because the media in general offers so little of any use to ordinary citizens, this spinning of fantasies may be their only profitable role.

  Read more of this post


Sunday, May 15 2017

2 PM

March for Peace


Front of Sejong Culture Center

Gwanghwamun, Seoul



The Korea Peace Movement and the Asia Institute are holding a March for Peace on Sunday, May 15, starting at 2 PM in front of the Sejong Culture in Gwanghwamun, Seoul.


We live in an age in which conflict and destruction has torn so many countries apart and there is a real threat of world war if we do not make an effort to promote peaceful cooperation and offer up a peaceful model for how we can combine forces to address the tremendous challenges of our age.


Please do join us for this march and show that world that it is not enough to stand by in silence, we must actively wage peace.


“Seoul should be unpredictable” Febuary 20, 2017)

JoongAng Daily

“Seoul should be unpredictable”

Febuary 20, 2017

Emanuel Pastreich



The recent meeting between Shinzo Abe and Donald Trump was a farce. Both men were clearly complete strangers with no common interests other than to push for their own domestic agendas. Anyone watching their forced actions could see that it was a marriage of convenience.

Both politicians make good use of “political unpredictability.” Abe has abandoned Japan’s long commitment to peace as a goal and is moving quickly away from its social welfare system that was so impressive to us in the 1980s. Trump has not only abandoned the free trade stance which was the core of U.S. policy since the Second World War — without even bothering to ask Congress to pass the laws necessary, he is taking steps domestically, such as personal attacks on judges, that undermine the rule of law.

Of course, North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and advanced missile technology is profoundly destabilizing and dangerous. Yet the odds of the North actually using nuclear weapons against the South or the United States is extremely low. Rather the risk is that continued development of nuclear weapons will set off an arms race in the region which will end up creating tensions not only with Pyongyang, but between all the nations of the region, and that process, unchecked, could end in nuclear war.

I would like to suggest that Seoul engage in its own version of “unpredictability” by doing something that no one ever guessed it would do: tell the truth.

Not only should Seoul state bluntly that the greatest danger of the North’s nuclear program is its risk of triggering an arms race. It should call on the United States to engage in serious negotiations with the North, China and Russia to create an environment in which we can reasonably expect that the North will first stop testing nuclear weapons and then take steps to eliminate those weapons. Read more of this post

The North Korea table at Kyobo

Kyobo Books has a whole table piled up with books about North Korea.

The woman defector in search of freedom seems to be a popular genre.





money moneyunnamed (5)

“Geopolitical Ripples: Cracking the Code of the North Korea-Japan Diplomatic Game TAI Seminar at Yonsei

Arirang Institute & Asia Institute Seminar



“Geopolitical Ripples: Cracking the Code of the North Korea-Japan Diplomatic Game”


Tuesday, June 30, 2015


4:30-6:00 PM



New Millennium Hall,  Room 701

Yonsei University





Although Japan has consistently postulated North Korea as a security threat and the conservative governments of Japan have taken a hard line on abductee issues and other matters, in fact Prime Minister Koizumi visited North Korea twice (whereas no leader of Korea or the United States had done so recently) and a series of confidential negotiations between Japan and North Korea have been carried out recently. What exactly is Japan trying to achieve through its back channel conversations with North Korea and what might be the larger implications of these actions for the region?


Opening Remarks

Mike Lammbrau , Bureau Chief of the Arirang Institute



Emanuel Pastreich, Director of the Asia Institute



Professor Jin Kai, Research Fellow
Center for International Studies, Yonsei University


Dr. Kim Changsu, Senior Researcher, Korea Institute Defense Analysis


JoongAng Daily

“Is reunification a choice?”

December 19, 2014

Emanuel Pastreich




Recently I led a discussion about the future of Korea and the challenges of unification in my class at Kyung Hee University. When I asked students what the proper road forward for Korea might be, one declared with great confidence that he did not feel those of his generation would chose unification, especially in light of the exorbitant costs reported in the media.

I thought for a long time about that student’s comment after the class and wondered whether perhaps many Koreans assume history offers us such choices. I believe that we have choices in terms of our response to destiny, but we may never have a choice between unification and division.

The best known saying about unification is to be found in the preface to the Chinese historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Samgukji in Korean), an epic relating the competing visions for unification at the close of the Han Dynasty: “Any state that has been divided for a long time will inevitably come back together; any state that has been unified for a long time will inevitably split apart.”

The implication is that the unification and division of nations are phenomena driven by larger historical and geopolitical factors and that they are ineluctable in nature. It would more accurate to say that we have a choice between a successful unification and a failed unification; there is no choice about unification itself.

The process of unification on the Korean Peninsula has already begun. North Koreans are being drawn into the global economy regardless of South Korean or American policies. The privileged of Pyongyang travel to Beijing and Moscow to purchase luxury goods and are entirely capable of acquiring foreign reserves and even opening accounts through which they can invest around the world, including in South Korea, without being easily detected. China also is investing in North Korea on a large scale and making that economy more integrated with the world. Read more of this post


통일은 선택의 문제가 아니다”

2014년 12월 13일

임마누엘 페스트라이쉬


얼마 전 수업 시간에 한국의 미래와 통일에 관한 토론 시간을 가졌다. 통일로 가는 올바른 길이 무엇이냐고 묻자 한 학생은 확신에 찬 듯 “엄청난 통일비용을 감안할 때 우리 세대에는 통일을 선택하지 않겠다”고 대답했다. 수업을 마치고 학생의 말을 오랫동안 곱씹어 봤다. 혹시 많은 한국인이 그 학생처럼 역사가 우리에게 그런 선택을 제공한다고 여기는 건 아닐까. 그러나 분명한 사실은 우리 운명에 대한 선택지는 여러 가지일지라도 통일은 결코 선택의 문제가 아니라는 점이다.

통일에 관한 불후의 문구는 중국의 『삼국지』 서문에서 찾을 수 있다. 나라의 존망이 위태롭던 한(漢)조 말에 쓰인 그 유명한 역사소설의 서문에는 이런 구절이 나온다. ‘分久必合, 合久必分(오랫동안 분열된 나라는 반드시 다시 통일되고, 오랫동안 통일된 나라는 반드시 분열한다)’. 이 말의 함축된 의미는 국가의 통일과 분열은 본질적으로 피할 수 없다는 것이다. 그렇다면 성공적인 통일이냐, 실패한 통일이냐의 차이만 있을 뿐 통일 자체는 선택의 대상이 아니라는 것이다.

한반도의 통일 과정은 이미 시작됐다. 한국이나 미국의 정책과 무관하게 북한은 글로벌 경제 속에 계속 편입되고 있다. 평양의 특권층은 이미 베이징이나 모스크바에서 명품을 구입하고, 외화를 획득하거나 심지어 해외 계좌를 통해 전 세계에 은밀한 투자가 가능하다. 중국의 대규모 북한 투자도 북한의 세계 경제 편입을 촉진한다. 다시 말해 남북한의 경제·금융 통합은 수면 아래에서 꾸준히 계속될 것이다.

남북 간의 이념 장벽도 무너지고 있다. 20년 전만 해도 옷과 표정만 봐도 북한 사람을 분간할 수 있었지만 그런 차이가 갈수록 무뎌진다. 북한 지도자 김정은의 말·몸짓·복장은 베이징이나 서울에 사는 또래들과 큰 차이가 없어 보인다. 공산주의 이념에 지배되던 당과 군이 사익을 추구하는 과두집단으로 변모하면서 문화와 가치관의 차이도 계속 흐려질 것이다.

만일 남북의 통합 과정이 은밀하게만 이뤄진다면 정부나 민간의 정상적인 채널보다는 비정상적인 채널을 통해 통합될 위험이 있다. 이렇게 되면 향후 100년간 한반도를 문화적으로나 정치적으로 후퇴시킬지 모를 비극을 맞을지 모른다. 통일 자체보다 통일 방법이 중요한 이유다.

이처럼 잘못된 통일이 일어날 가능성을 경계해야 한다. 문화적·제도적 통합을 위한 실질적 해결책을 찾아야 하는 우리의 책임도 결코 포기해선 안 된다. 이를 방기한다면 통일은 우리가 어디로 가는지 모르는 매우 위험한 상태가 될 수 있다.남한과 북한은 비무장지대(DMZ)로 나뉘어져 의사소통과 인적 교류가 거의 불가능하다. 그러나 DMZ가 한국의 유일한 장벽이라는 생각은 금물이다. 남한과 북한에는 저마다 경제적·이념적 분열을 조장하는 세력이 이미 등장해 공통의 미래를 방해하고 있다. 이들이야말로 눈에 보이지 않는 위험한 장벽이다. 1960~70년대 한국의 발전을 이끈 놀라운 공동체의식도 허물어지고 있다. 이런 이웃과의 문화적·사상적 장벽은 DMZ 보다 더 무섭다.

최악의 경우 남북은 돈과 재화의 흐름에서만 통합된 나라로 귀결될 수도 있다. 남북이 스스로의 의지에 의해서가 아니라 양국에 투자 중인 중국·러시아 또는 다른 나라의 발전 전략에 휘말려 통합되는 경우도 상정이 가능하다. 그런 식의 통일이 이뤄진다면 스스로 새로운 통일 한국의 구체적인 청사진을 만들지 못한 채 모든 수준에서 여러 세대 동안 갈등을 부추기는 엄청난 분열이 뒤따를 것이다.

 우리 사회 모든 수준에서 통합을 실현해야 하는 이유가 여기에 있다. 이를 통해 남북 모두가 동등한 시민이 되고, 공통의 가치관을 공유하며, 서로에게 책임을 져야 한다. 만일 남과 북이 문화적·사회적 통합을 이루지 못하더라도 현재진행형인 경제적 통합 흐름은 멈추지 않을 것이다. 하지만 그런 통일은 멕시코와 미국의 국경처럼, 지금의 DMZ가 매우 착취적이고 부정적인 양상을 띠게 될 것이다.

환경적인 문제도 생각하지 않을 수 없다. 북한은 이미 과도한 경작과 삼림 파괴로 토양이 피폐해지고 있는 데다 기후변화까지 겹쳐 상당한 면적이 끔찍할 정도로 사막화되고 있다. 이 건조지역이 DMZ를 넘어 남한 땅에 영향을 미치면 가뜩이나 부족한 물 부족 사태를 부채질할지도 모른다. 남한 정부가 아무리 노력해도 한반도의 사막화를 막기엔 역부족일 것이다. 결국 긴밀한 협력밖에 없다.

이제 우리는 통일의 불가피성을 받아들이고, 그 과정을 성공적으로 만드는 데 필요한 구체적인 정책을 수립하는 일에 전념해야 한다. 만일 지금 이 순간 한국 사회의 내적 통합에 신경 쓰지 않는다 해도 경제적 통합은 계속 이뤄질 것이다. 그러나 그런 무책임한 통일은 우리 사회에 분열을 초래할 수 있으며 눈에 보이지 않는 그런 분열은 DMZ보다 훨씬 더 비극적이고 위험하다.

Read more of this post

Foreign Policy in Focus

“East Asia: A Farewell to Arms”

With climate change upon us, it’s time to bury the hatchet in one of the world’s most volatile regions.

Emanuel Pastreich & John Feffer

September 25, 2014



East Asia faces an enormous number of challenges. The countries of the region clash over territory, argue over history, compete for diminishing natural resources, and dispute the balance of power along the Pacific Rim.

In response to all these challenges, the United States has offered a one-size-fits-all approach: free trade and more arms. Ratification of the free trade agreement the United States is pushing in the region, known as the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), remains a long shot. In the meantime, Washington has fallen back on arms peddling and burden sharing.

The Pacific Pivot of the Obama administration is only the latest version of a militarized U.S. response to regional conflicts. For many years, Washington has been pushing its allies in the region to buy high-priced U.S. weapons systems and spend a larger percentage of their GDP on defense. Tragically, the final denouement of Washington’s military evangelism could be catastrophic conflicts that end American influence in the region.

East Asia’s thriving economy is the envy of the world. But the recent growth in military spending makes analogies to the Europe of 100 years ago no longer seem so far-fetched. The region is home to top military spenders: China is number two in the world, Japan weighs in at number eight, and South Korea has risen to number ten. Russia, the number three in military expenditures, is a significant player in the region by dint of its far east and its expanding relationships with China and North Korea. And number thirteen, Australia, is increasing its presence in the region.

The United States, which spends more on the military than the next eight top spenders combined, is thoroughly enmeshed in the region. Although the Pacific Pivot involves only a modest increase in the U.S. military footprint – primarily in the form of naval power – it has brought with it a more confrontational approach toward China and a push to significantly increase the military spending of U.S. allies.

Hawks inside the Beltway want the United States to be even more confrontational. For example, CSIS’s Michael Green and Victor Cha have argued that the United States should double the number of nuclear attack submarines that are based at Guam, increase amphibious forces in Hawaii, station littoral combat ships in South Korea, permanently base a bomber squadron on Guam, and increase manned and unmanned surveillance throughout the region. The increase in provocative surveillance flights along China’s borders has already done much to raise tensions.

The region desperately needs a plan for responding to serious security threats such as climate change and the widening disparities in wealth. Instead, U.S. engagement is driven by campaigns to convince South Korea to purchase an expensive missile defense program called THAAD (Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense) when Seoul’s official position is that it does not need the program. Similarly, China’s entirely legitimate concerns about the stationing of such equipment at close proximity have been dismissed without even a minimum effort at dialog.

Even more troubling is the emerging nuclear breakout in East Asia. China, which traditionally maintained a modest arsenal, is engaged in a serious modernization effort aimed at enhancing survivability, increasing striking power, and countering missile-defense programs. North Korea is expanding the capacity of its nuclear weapons, though the size and reach remains unknown, and that move is increasing pressure on its immediate neighbors to go nuclear. We now hear voices in Seoul and Tokyo urging a repeal of the prohibitions against nuclear weapons in order to counter the programs of their neighbors – with some analysts in the United States urging them to do so. And the Obama administration, despite its advocacy of nuclear abolition and its negotiations of new ceilings with Russia (whose utility have been drawn into question by recent events), has green-lighted a multi-billion dollar modernization of its own arsenal.

Maybe Washington policymakers believe that a ring of allies will pin down a rising China. But future conflicts are unlikely to follow this game plan. For example, South Korea and Japan have their own disputes over territory and history. Increases in Japanese military spending, even if ostensibly aimed at North Korea, will inevitably be perceived by both South Korea and China as a direct threat. Similarly, beefing up the Vietnamese military will likewise trigger an arms race in Southeast Asia unrelated to China.

The European Example

In the 1970s, arms control negotiations were essential to transforming Europe from the scene of multiple tragic arms races and devastating wars into a unified, peaceful region. Military leaders in both the United States and the Soviet Union realized the dangers of the arms race and entered into serious negotiations that produced concrete nuclear arms control and conventional arms control agreements during the détente period.

During the early 1970s, the two sides of the Cold War divide made a commitment to addressing their various disagreements in three ways: through bilateral nuclear agreements between Moscow and Washington, through political and economic discussions in the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), and through the reduction of military forces in Europe in the Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions (MBFR) negotiations. The MBFR, after some fits and starts, eventually fed into the talks that in 1989 resulted in concrete reductions in NATO and Warsaw Pact forces in Europe. After the Cold War ended, the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty provided a platform for negotiating further reductions of forces between NATO and Russia, although neither side fully embraced the plans.

The arms build-up in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s was no less dangerous than the situation in East Asia today. In spite of the relative success of détente, the Cold War mentality flared up again after the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the resulting demonization of Moscow by the Reagan administration. Nonetheless, the nuclear and conventional arms control negotiations of the 1970s held up through all the political tests, serving as essential building blocks for a new security architecture that assured a stable and peaceful Europe.

Decades of arms control negotiations created an environment in which politicians, policymakers, and military experts dedicated their time to thinking about how to reduce tensions, rather than create tensions so as to expand military budgets. They developed sophisticated systems for confidence-building that in turn institutionalized the agreements beyond mere reductions in the level of armaments. The result was a proliferation of Track 2 and Track 3 discussions that created a wider circle of stakeholders committed to tension reduction, which ensured that arms control and disarmament agreements continued regardless of changes in political leadership.

Asia doesn’t have any comparable history of arms control and disarmament. Japan participated in the Washington Naval Conference, the first arms control meeting in history and the source of the 1922 agreement limiting battleship construction. But it was also Japan that effectively ended the agreement when it pulled out in 1936.

In the post-war era, the only arms control to speak of has been Japan’s adoption of a peace constitution that renounces the sovereign right of military action and calls for an international regime of peace and justice. Despite the promise of that peace constitution, other nations did not adopt such policies–most notably the United States, which imposed the constitution on Japan in the first place. The United States also removed tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991 as part of the scaling down of the military after the Cold War, but that symbolic act was not part of an overarching policy concerning armaments.

Beyond Rebalancing

The U.S. strategy for East Asia, currently termed “rebalancing,” demands a complete reformulation.

First and foremost, the basis of foreign policy should be mutual security, not the sales of pricy weapons systems. Over the next five years the United States and its alliance partners–Japan, South Korea, and Australia–together with the major military powers of the region, China and Russia, and the ASEAN member states, should meet to draft a comprehensive plan for the limitation of nuclear and conventional weapons.

That commitment to an arms limitation agreement must go hand and hand with a security policy that recognizes climate change as the primary security threat for the region and demands systemic reforms of all governments.

There is already significant support for such an approach, as evidenced by the declaration of Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III (the leader of the U.S. Pacific Command) that climate change is the most significant security challenge. As Andrew DeWit has noted, the U.S. Pacific Command has committed itself to a concrete engagement with climate issues that opens up new vistas for future collaboration across Asia. Climate change must serve as the transformative issue in security that drives forward an arms control grand deal as part of a fundamental redefinition of the role of the military in society.

Engagement with China is a necessary condition for success. China does not categorically view the United States as an unwelcome presence in the region. Although there are hardliners in Beijing, as there are in Washington, China has consistently expressed a willingness to work with the United States on security issues, including military-to-military cooperation. China has participated in military exercises, such as RIMPAC 2014, organized by the United States.

However, the confrontational displays of military hardware in China’s coastal waters have raised concerns in Beijing that the United States is not so much a regional arbiter as a hegemon trying to subdue a potential threat. The future of the world depends as much on the United States moving away from a Cold War paradigm for diplomacy and security as it does on China accepting the norms of the international community. The decision by the United States to engage with China in a long-term arms control agreement could transform the relationship of the two countries.

The Way Forward

The United States is the world’s biggest spender on military hardware as well as the world’s biggest salesman. Therefore, the first step toward a comprehensive East Asian arms control agreement should begin in Washington. Rather than ratcheting up of the arms race in response to disputes, Washington should show leadership by embracing a commitment to arms reduction and confidence-building measures.

Any arms control agreement should be multilateral, as opposed to bilateral. It is critical to recognize that the current arms buildup in the region involves every single country, and that the underlying causes of tension are complex and do not following alliance lines. The extreme focus on North Korea’s nuclear program has blinded us to larger regional security challenges.

Such an agreement will require some form of institution, even if it is only a regular conference, as the CSCE initially was. Track One and Track Two institutions, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific, could be the locus for initial conversations. A mature comprehensive arms control framework will eventually require a new inter-governmental initiative.

The Six Party Talks could serve as an initial platform to enter into serious discussions about arms control. Rather than repeat the litany of demands for North Korea to unconditionally end its nuclear program, the members–the United States, Japan, South Korea, China, Russia, and North Korea–could start negotiations about how to eliminate nuclear weapons and vastly reduce conventional weapons in the region. Such negotiations should not be limited to or dependent on Pyongyang’s actions but should rather serve as the basis of a larger security architecture that will be implemented regardless of North Korea’s actions. However, the negotiations should, in and of themselves, provide incentives for North Korea to participate as part of a larger agreement to reduce Chinese, Japanese, and Korean arms, as well as scale down the U.S. military presence.

One obvious incentive for North Korea to participate would be for the United States to offer to negotiate a peace agreement to replace the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953. Such a peace treaty, for which Pyongyang has been lobbying, could include a provision on creating a regional mechanism to ensure compliance. This mechanism could then become the core of a new regional security structure.

An initial agreement among those players would gain momentum from a declaration of U.S. support for the Limited Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone in Northeast Asia proposed by John Endicott in 1995. This proposal has been crafted with the input of military experts from all the members of the Six Party Talks (except North Korea) and can serve as a first step toward to the eventual elimination of all nuclear weapons in the region. The proposed NWFZ (Nuclear Weapon Free-Zone) is effective in that it builds on the precedents of eight established NWFZs, such as the Antarctic Treaty (1959) and the Southeast Asia NWFZ (1995).

The negotiations on nuclear weapons should be paralleled by series of talks concerning the reduction of armaments in the region based on the precedents of the MBFR talks. Those discussions could develop into an on-going mechanism that generates arms reduction proposals and a roadmap for implementation following a predictable sequence. Specific agreements could be negotiated for naval vessels, tanks and artillery, aircraft and bombers, and missiles and other delivery systems. The agreements should also include active monitoring arrangements to ensure compliance and provide for strict rules concerning military drills and surveillance. A key element of these talks would be the scaling back of major military exercises in the region, with an eye toward an eventual moratorium, and a cessation of provocative surveillance programs in the region.

Moreover, because the rapid rate of technological change is making conventional arms increasingly unconventional, agreements on conventional weapons must evolve to keep up. Emerging technologies such as drones, robots, 3D printing, and cyber warfare should also be addressed directly by the protocols of these arms treaties. The disruptive nature of technological change itself should be explicitly addressed within any arms control treaty to assure its continued relevance.

Theater missile defense should be addressed as a part of a comprehensive arms treaty. Despite the technological questions surrounding the effectiveness of such a missile defense system, the proposal by the United States to extend a system to Korea and Japan has already resulted in reciprocal advances in China’s ballistic missile program that are inherently destabilizing. Moreover, China doesn’t accept the American position that missile defense is a defensive mechanism. As a result, although Americans might argue that missile defense would be the last element to be removed in an arms control agreement, China would argue that it should be the first to go. This issue can only be addressed by serious negotiations.

Finally, it is critical that talks on climate change mitigation and adaptation parallel the talks on nuclear weapons and conventional weapons. Reducing conventional and nuclear armaments will necessitate a transformation of the military’s focus and function. The huge bureaucracies that employ millions of people in the respective militaries must be given a stake in the battle against climate change.

Over the last year, the world has witnessed an uptick in conflicts in Ukraine, Iraq, and Gaza that is deeply troubling. In each of these cases, the situation has escalated because of the choice of a military response by all sides. The crises in East Asia, meanwhile, have become muted over the last couple months. This is an ideal moment for Asia to offer a different approach to settling the myriad conflicts that have bedeviled the region for years. If Asia bids farewell to arms as a means of solving conflicts, it can set a powerful example for the rest of the world.


Read more of this post

창조적인한반도통일 (아시아인스티튜트 와 Foreign Policy in Focus) 7월 4일금요일오후 4:00-6:00 @ 시민청

AI logo small 




“Unifying the Korean Peninsula as a Creative Act





7월 4일금요일오후 4:00-6:00






Town House Meeting


사회: 임마누엘페스트라이쉬



한반도의통일은광범위한파급효과와함께  한반도에근본적으로큰의미가될지정학적변화를가져오게될것입니다. Read more of this post