Despite my expressed intention to stop blogging about the bane of my professional life, North Korea, and move on to a subject area about which I can express myself without dredging up unsettling and classified memories of my short intelligence career, I can’t help but notice from my search stats how popular North Korea is amongst the few readers of this blog. I repeat: this is not an expert blog, and it’s avowedly not a North Korea blog.
That said, and without appearing to humble-brag or confuse readers, North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs do raise complex questions about international relations. I do think about this, but I have to admit I am flummoxed. It’s hard just to get a basic theoretical hold or even a historical context. North Korea might be sui generis. Three perspectives and one author have informed my thinking. Is North Korea an aggressive, revisionist state (offensive realism)? Is it concerned about its survival (defensive realism)? What role do international norms and organizations and corporations play in the security situation (neoliberalism)? And, what about the problem of haves and have-nots (E.H. Carr)? These are the contours of how I view North Korea and the region. Additionally, I don’t know if viewing the current crisis by comparing it to past crises should be limited to the golden oldies, like World War One or the Cold War, or regional approaches, like Africa and South America regional relations. I am skeptical that North Korea is itself important, but only for South Koreans. Finally, and not to be contradictory, I am skeptical the issue is not only a manifestation of how states like the United States and Japan deal with China. Readers should remember that technically neither South Korea nor North Korea are states, and whether the two proxies are locked in civil war or international war is an open question.
Isaac Stone Fish (Foreign Policy) and Chris Green (Daily NK, SinoNK, Destination Pyongyang) (bhTV)
Expert says diplomatic engagement may be best way to reach North Korea (Hankyoreh)
Dealing With North Korea: What the History Shows (New York Times)
Chinese professor says six-party talks on NK denuclearization have run their course (Hankyoreh)
North Korea not a nuclear threat to U.S. yet, scientist says (Los Angeles Times)
Stephen Bosworth say NK nuclear issue requires a comprehensive approach (Hankyoreh)
No More Firewall: Qiao Xinsheng on the DPRK’s Militant Isolation (Sino-NK)
How North Korea evades international financial sanctions (One Free Korea)
It is time to bring North Korea out of the cold (East Asia Forum)
Testing times for North Korea (East Asia Forum)
The Results of Threat Inflation (The American Conservative)