Roy Reading Nov 1.docx

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Political Science
Justin Bumgardner

Parsing Pyongyangs Strategy Roy November 1The first theory is the leaders of North Korea are irrational AsiaPacific governments may expect and prepare for hyperaggressive and even suicidal North Korean policies Second common view holds that North Korean leaders believe they need an external enemy for domestic political purposes They therefore engage in selfalienation to ensure continual tensions with the outside world Pyongyang will never give up its nuclear weapons or reconcile with its adversaries A third theory is that fomenting crises serves two basic North Korean objectives security and extracting concessions Pyongyang believes the risks of a tensionraising policy are acceptable given the potential rewards and the lack of other optionsNot IrrationalThe preferences of North Koreas leadership class have been remarkably stable and consistent Survival of the regime is clearly at the top of the list Because of the unique political and historical context within which the regime operates the imperative of ensuring regime survival has resulted in a ranking of preferences that produces policies many outsiders and particularly Westerners find crazythe governments willingness to tolerate mass starvation rather than invigorate production and development through serious economic reform Ruthless pursuit of the elite of narrow selfinterestan ordering of preferences that gives low priority to the physical wellbeing of the mass public might seem to outsiders as crazy but not irrationalJohn Mearsheimer states NK is nonstrategic behaviour States that are strategically rational pursue policies indicating they are aware of their external environment and they think intelligently about how to maximize their prospects for survival They use costbenefit analysis consider longshort term effects of policies strategically rational states make policy mistakes because they guess wrong or miscalculate due to not transparent information but Mersheimer doesnt think this is irrationalPyongyang seems to qualify as a rational actor Analysts regularly see in North Korean behaviour a high degree of calculation about the likely reactions of other states in the region During the Cold War Pyongyang successfully managed its relationship with China to gain concessions from Moscow and vice versa Pyongyang is renowned even by its outside critics both for its cleverness in anticipating the reactions of its adversaries and for its capacity to play for the long term sometimes in contrast to the lack of endurance displayed by its democratic negotiating partnersMiscalculations attempts to overthrow South Korea government through terrorist attacks Basic challenge for NK qualifying as a rational actor different agendas of powerful elites such as military favouring strong policy towards USA and SK and another group of elites that argue for a conciliatory policy We have sometimes seen the continuation of longstanding unfriendly North Korean policies during periods when Pyongyang appeared to be making or entertaining peaceful overtures discovery of NK assistance to Syria in 2007 while sixparty Talks were in progressor UN prohibited aerial shipment of weapons from NK intercepted in Thailand during conciliatory talks in 2009North Koreas actions indicate that Pyongyang is aware of its reputation among outside societies and recognises the possibilities for exploiting such a reputation to the regimes advantage This has been
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