38 North: The Syrian Litmus Test by Rudiger Frank


[From time to time CanKor will alert our readers to papers published by our partner-site 38North. The following article is authored by CanKor Brain Trust member Rudiger Frank, Professor of East Asian Economy and Society at the University of Vienna (also an Adjunct Professor at Korea University and the University of North Korean Studies, Kyungnam University, in Seoul). Please follow our links to this article on the 38North site. –CanKor.]

North Korea’s Strategic Outlook on Northeast Asia: The Syrian Litmus Test By Ruediger Frank

The Libyan story seems to be over, at least for now. We do not exactly know who is going to rule that country next and with what consequences. There is room for experience-based pessimism, but only time will tell. So it is now worth looking closer at another of the anti-dictatorship uprisings in the region. What is the meaning of Syria for North Korea?

The case is particularly interesting if we consider the international debate about its resolution. A few countries felt uneasy about intervening in Libya; however, in the case of Syria, one country is outspokenly against any international interference. That country is Russia, a long-time ally of Syria and a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Two decades after the end of the Soviet Union, dissatisfaction and disillusionment on the individual level in Russia combines with nostalgia and translates into a deeply hurt national pride and an enormous anti-Western nationalist undercurrent in public opinion. The latter matters because, despite doubts about the nature of Russia’s democracy, political leaders there must consider the will of the masses if they want to get (re)elected. …Read More

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