The Two-Wars Doctrine and the Regional Arms Race

Contradictions in U.S. Post-Cold War Security Policy in Northeast Asia

Author: Jae-Jung Suh

Abstract:

Since the end of the cold war, the United States has been pursuing a foreign policy whose ends and means are marked by a lack of consistency. Nowhere is this more striking and dangerous than in Northeast Asia where the United States is trying to adapt to post-cold war Asia with cold war means and within a cold war mindset. In a contradictory manner, Washington is holding out the possibility of negotiations with North Korea and, at the same time, strengthening its own and its allies' military capabilities in the region. These contradictory projects impose structural constraints on Seoul's "sunshine policy" and they also undermine the fragile regional peace in Northeast Asia — a situation made more perilous in the aftermath of the attacks of 11 September 2001. If Clinton's foreign policy stood on the two legs of containment and engagement, Bush is now abandoning the latter in favor of the former. Bush's new U.S. security posture represents a bold step toward reasserting and buttressing U.S. hegemonic order in the "American lake" in the twenty-first century, hence resolving the contradictions inherent in Clinton's policy in a more dangerous manner. The article concludes that Washington and Pyongyang must acknowledge the reality of the present security dilemma, stop demonizing one another, and embrace the principle of reciprocity.
Countries: Philippines

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March 2003
© UN Photo/UNHCR, Yangon, Myanmar