A Debate on Engagement Strategies
The regime of Kim Jong-Il has been called "mad," "rogue," even, by the Wall Street Journal, the equivalent of an "unreformed serial killer." Yet, despite the avalanche of television and print coverage of the Pyongyang government's violation of nuclear nonproliferation agreements and existing scholarly literature on North Korean policy and security, this critical issue remains mired in political punditry and often misleading sound bites. Victor Cha and David Kang step back from the daily newspaper coverage and cable news commentary and offer a reasoned, rational, and logical debate on the nature of the North Korean regime.
Coming to the issues from different perspectives--Kang believes the threat posed by Pyongyang has been inflated and endorses a more open approach, while Cha is more skeptical and advocates harsher measures--the authors together have written an essential work of clear-eyed reflection and authoritative analysis. They refute a number of misconceptions and challenge much faulty thinking that surrounds the discussion of North Korea, particularly the idea that North Korea is an irrational nation. Cha and Kang contend that however provocative, even deplorable, the Pyongyang government's behavior may at times be, it is not incomprehensible or incoherent. Neither is it "suicidal," they argue, although crisis conditions could escalate to a degree that provokes the North Korean regime to "lash out" as the best and only policy, the unintended consequence of which are suicide and/or collapse. Further, the authors seek to fill the current scholarly and policy gap with a vision for a U.S.-South Korea alliance that is not simply premised on a North Korean threat, not simply derivative of Japan, and not eternally based on an older, "Korean War generation" of supporters.
This book uncovers the inherent logic of the politics of the Korean peninsula, presenting an indispensable context for a new policy of engagement. In an intelligent and trenchant debate, the authors look at the implications of a nuclear North Korea for East Asia and U.S. homeland security, rigorously assessing historical and current U.S. policy, and provide a workable framework for constructive policy that should be followed by the United States, Japan, and South Korea if engagement fails to stop North Korean nuclear proliferation.
This timely and important book is free of much of the hyperbole that has fettered a more concise course of action for dealing with North Korea. The book not only fills the current scholarly and policy gap with a clear-cut analysis of the policy challenges facing the United States and its allies, but also offers a thorough and provocative assessment for what policies to pursue.
[Nuclear North Korea] aims to shed fresh light on two of our biggest areas of ignorance: what motivates Pyongyang's extreme hostility to the outside world, and how best to part it from its claimed nuclear 'deterrent'... Msssrs Cha and Kang debate tough versus tender engagement in alternating chapters.
Nuclear North Korea provides a penetrating analysis of what is probably the world's most dangerous trouble spot.
Gordon G. Chang
Victor Cha and David Kang have joined forces to bring us a remarkable and sound presentation of two different strategies on how to deal with a nuclear North Korea. One of the most valuable aspects of their book lies in its composition-- a running dialogue and critique of each other's strategy, presented in alternating chapters and culminating in a combined effort in the last two chapters of the book. The refreshing and honest internal evaluation that accompanies solid academic writing makes this work stand out.
Charles L. Pritchard
While both authors believe that engagement represents the only rational policy for the United States, they arrive at this conclusion along very different paths. In individually authored alternating chapters Cha and Kang offer differing assessments of the threat posed by the DPRK and the extent to which Pyongyang can be induced to join respectable international society. In the process, they explicitly take issue with each other and engage in something of a public debate on the merits, requirements, and prospects of engagement.
Robert M. Hathaway
[T]his book is required reading for anyone who wants a deeper appreciation of what is surely one of the most pressing issues in the post-September 11 world.
It is a slow and thoughtful read, navigating past the existing U.S. policymaking, the current media hyperboles, and the politically motivated punditry.
Their book is important. Dealing with North Korea will be one of the central challenges for the U.S. in the coming years.
Victor D. Cha and David C. Kang take a step away from emotion-laden debates about North Korea to offer a cool-headed, reasoned, and rational debate on the nature of the North Korean threat and the best policies for dealing with it.
Cha and Kang wrestle with that policy context in their crisp, smart book.
This book is good and extraordinary. It is a delight to read.
Introduction: The Debate over North Korea
Victor Cha: Weak but Still Threatening
David Kang: Threatening, but Deterrence Works
Response: Why we must pursue "hawk engagement" (Cha)
Response: Why are we so afraid of engagement? (Kang)
Crisis Redux: The 2003 Nuclear Crisis
Beyond Hyperbole, Toward a Strategy