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A Rogue Is a Rogue Is a Rogue: US Foreign Policy and the Korean Nuclear Crisis

Roland Bleiker
International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-)
Vol. 79, No. 4 (Jul., 2003), pp. 719-737
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Royal Institute of International Affairs
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3569570
Page Count: 19
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A Rogue Is a Rogue Is a Rogue: US Foreign Policy and the Korean Nuclear Crisis
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Abstract

Two nuclear crises recently haunted the Korean peninsula, one in 1993/4, the other in 2002/3. In each case the events were strikingly similar: North Korea made public its ambition to acquire nuclear weapons and withdrew from the Nonproliferation Treaty. Then the situation rapidly deteriorated until the peninsular was literally on the verge of war. The dangers of North Korea's actions, often interpreted as nuclear brinkmanship, are evident and much discussed, but not so the underlying patterns that have shaped the conflict in the first place. This article sheds light on some of them. It examines the role of the United States in the crisis, arguing that Washington's inability to see North Korea as anything but a threatening 'rogue state' seriously hinders both an adequate understanding and possible resolution of the conflict. Particularly significant is the current policy of pre-emptive strikes against rogue states, for it reinforces half a century of American nuclear threats towards North Korea. The problematic role of these threats has been largely obscured, not least because the highly technical discourse of security analysis has managed to present the strategic situation on the peninsula in a manner that attributes responsibility for the crisis solely to North Korea's actions, even if the situation is in reality far more complex and interactive.

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