38 North: The US-DPRK “Choose Your Own Adventure” Experience by Andray Abrahamian

[From time to time CanKor alerts readers to papers published by our partner-site 38North. The following article is authored by  Andray Abrahamian.  Please follow our link to the current article on the 38North site. –CanKor]

The US-DPRK deal signed last month is a softline message; the Satellite Launch is a hardline one. Washington would do well to ignore the hardline one.

In 1962, with the United States and the USSR seemingly spiraling towards nuclear war, Khrushchev and Kennedy engineered history’s most important diplomatic breakthrough.

At the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, with both the White House and the Kremlin under incredible pressure, Khrushchev sent Kennedy a message that demanded a declaration of non-aggression from the United States towards Cuba in return for a Soviet withdrawal. The next morning, however, after consultation with government officials more inclined to take a harder line, Khrushchev sent Kennedy a second letter. This one demanded the United States remove its Jupiter missiles from Italy and Turkey as part of the deal, a proposal that would have made Kennedy appear to cave to high-stakes blackmail had he accepted it. Read the rest of this entry »

The End of the Beginning: Bringing About a Khrushchev Thaw in the DPRK

In the midst of Britain’s darkest hour, Winston Churchill famously remarked in 1942 that what the country faced was not “the end, it is not even the beginning of the end; but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

If there is anything to describe the events of what we have witnessed in the DPRK in the past week or so, Churchill’s words could not be closer to the truth. We seem to be at a bridge that has never been crossed in the history of the country, and no one is quite sure how long, or even how sturdy, this bridge actually is. The fact that this bridge is now in the horizon may also help some of us to rethink positions we have had in the past as well.

For many of us, from the perspective of observing North Korea from the “outside in,” the DPRK presents some unique and difficult challenges. It is important to note that it is in fact not even a fraction of the country that is responsible for the challenges that we are faced with; our quibble is with the people in Pyongyang who seem to hold the reins of power in that country.

With Kim Jong Il’s death, there has been a renewed interest in what we on the outside should be doing about those folks in Pyongyang we seem to have this quibble with. After all, we seem to be back at square one when it comes to dealing with the regime. Ten years of the Sunshine Policy brought very little in practical progress when it came to forcing the North Koreans to take off the proverbial Aesopian jacket. On the other hand, the last five years of hardline policies have produced equally dismal results. Read the rest of this entry »

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