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No. 17 - Managing Change on the Korean Peninsula

No. 17 - Managing Change on the Korean Peninsula

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Published by: bowssen on Apr 19, 2010
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Managing Change on the Korean Peninsula
Morton I. Abramowitz - ChairJames T. Laney - ChairMichael J. Green – Project Director
ForewordAcknowledgmentsExecutive SummaryFindings and RecommendationsBackgroundNorth Korea's Deteriorating SituationSouth Korea's New Approach and Economic ChallengeThe U.S. RoleRecommendationsDissenting ViewsAdditional ViewsMembers of the Task ForceObservers of the Task ForceEndorsers Outside the Task ForceJoint Statement with the Seoul ForumAbout the Seoul ForumParticipants in the Seoul ForumProject on Managing Change on the Korean Peninsula
The Council will sponsor an Independent Task Force (1) when an issue arises for U.S.foreign policy of current and critical importance, and (2) if it seems that a groupdiverse in backgrounds and perspectives, nonetheless, may be able to reach ameaningful consensus on a policy through private and nonpartisan deliberations. TheTask Force is solely responsible for its Report. The Council takes no institutionalposition.The Council last sponsored an Independent Task Force on Korea in 1994--95 toconsider responses to the crisis surrounding North Korea's nuclear program. In theyears since, the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK, or South Korea) havekept a fragile cap on the North's nuclear ambitions through the 1994 AgreedFramework and have begun negotiations in the four-party talks aimed at establishinga peace treaty to replace the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War. However,the underlying danger on the peninsula has not subsided. The demilitarized zone(DMZ) remains the most heavily armed location in the world. It is less than 50kilometers from Seoul, and bristles with North Korean artillery and missiles.
Meanwhile, the situation on the ground continues to change in important ways. TheNorth's economy and food situation continue to deteriorate. The South faces a majoreconomic crisis. Funding and political support for the arrangements that resolved thenuclear crisis with the North are uncertain. And South Korea has a new presidentwho has a bold vision for changing North-South relations.In order to assess these developments and make recommendations for U.S. policy,the Council sponsored this Independent Task Force on Managing Change on theKorean Peninsula. The Task Force was co-chaired by Morton Abramowitz, seniorfellow at the Council, and James Laney, former U.S. ambassador to Seoul, and wasdirected by Michael Green, Olin fellow for Asian security studies at the Council. TheTask Force's effort represents one of the most extensive and authoritativeexaminations of U.S. policy toward the Korean peninsula ever undertaken outsidethe U.S. government. The Task Force's 37 members include former ambassadors toSouth Korea, all of the U.S. assistant secretaries of state for Asia from the last fouradministrations, the most senior U.S. official ever to negotiate with North Korea, andleading experts on Korean and Asian affairs from the academic community.The Task Force met extensively from October 1997 through May 1998, with close tofull attendance at each session. These sessions focused on briefings from U.S.government officials and expert papers prepared by members of the Task Force. Inaddition, a delegation of 12 Task Force members traveled to Seoul in April 1998 fordeliberations with senior ROK government officials and academic experts. In Seoul,the Task Force delegation held a two-day seminar with members of the Seoul Forum,a leading South Korean foreign policy organization with which the Council hascooperated in the past. The Seoul Forum had held parallel sessions and at the jointseminar in Seoul the participants agreed on a general statement of U.S. and ROKobjectives to guide each group's separate final Reports. That statement is included atthe end of this Report. While in Seoul, the Task Force delegation also heldconsultations with President Kim Dae Jung, his national security adviser, and hisministers of foreign affairs and trade, finance, defense, and national unification.In this final Report, the Task Force agrees that since 1994 U.S. policy has thus farsucceeded in averting potential nuclear proliferation and military confrontation and inestablishing a Korean-centered solution to the security problems of the peninsula.However, the Task Force argues that U.S. policy must move far more aggressively totry to reduce the lingering dangers of hostility and to reinforce North-Southreconciliation. Noting that the new ROK government has taken steps to open NorthKorea to broader contacts with the outside world while asserting that the South willbrook no military aggression from the North, the Task Force recommends a paralleland supportive approach for U.S. policy. According to the Task Force, this approachshould be premised on robust deterrence and an acknowledgment that the UnitedStates does not seek the absorption or destruction of the North. The Task Forcerecommends that policy should move beyond these initial assumptions to expandcontact with the North; to offer a larger package of reciprocal moves (beyond thosealready on the table) that might induce the North to make significant changes in itspolicies; and to deny any expanded assistance to the North (beyond those areasstipulated in existing agreements) if Pyongyang rejects the opportunity forreconciliation and threat reduction.An underlying theme in the Task Force recommendations is the indispensableelement of close U.S.-ROK cooperation. That cooperation was manifested in the Task
Force's extensive consultations with the ROK government and the Seoul Forum in thepreparation of this Report. This Report is being released in advance of the firstofficial visit to the United States of President Kim Dae Jung. It is our hope that theReport will contribute to a fuller U.S.-ROK dialogue on that occasion and willdemonstrate the determination of the United States to stand with South Koreathrough the current difficult economic situation and assist its efforts to produce anew era of greater peace, stability, and reconciliation on the peninsula.Leslie H. Gelb, President, Council on Foreign Relations
This final Report represents an extraordinary amount of work by the members of theTask Force. They responded in detail to several previous drafts, improving thelanguage, filling factual gaps, and suggesting new approaches to the problem. Inaddition, nine members prepared papers and memoranda to guide our discussions.These included:
"North Korea and Its Options," by Kongdan Oh of the Institute for DefenseAnalyses;
"Responding to North Korean Instability," by William Drennan of the NationalDefense University;
"The Korean Peninsula: Preserve the Past or Move toward Reconciliation," byKenneth Quinones of the Asia Foundation;
"The Great Powers and the Future of Korea," by Robert Manning of theCouncil on Foreign Relations and James Przystup of the Heritage Foundation;
"Korean Unification: Shaping the Future of Northeast Asia," by RobertManning and James Przystup;
"U.S.-ROK Relations," by Don Oberdorfer of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies;
"Kim Dae Jung Looks North: Options for Korea and the United States," byRichard V. Allen;
"Can the United States Cause the Collapse of North Korea? Should We Try?" amemorandum prepared by Frank Jannuzi of the U.S. Senate Foreign RelationsCommittee;
"Security Objectives after Korean Unification," a memorandum prepared byMorton Halperin of the Council on Foreign Relations.The Task Force also benefited immensely from the leadership of the co-chairs,Ambassadors Morton Abramowitz and James Laney. The Council is indebted to themfor their commitment of time and experience to this project. From the Council staff,Aki Nagashima, research associate for Asian security studies, played a central role inorganizing the Task Force meetings and working with interns Sam Na, Kim Kwang-Tae, Lee Hyun-Joo, and Kim Yeon-June to prepare research materials for the project.Thanks are also due to Senior Fellows Jerome Cohen and Morton Halperin for theirguidance in initiating the project.Dr. Han Sung Joo, Dr. Kim Kyung Won, and the members of the Seoul Forumdeserve our profound thanks for their smooth organization of our joint seminar inSeoul and for their important insights into the Task Force's earlier draft discussionpapers. Professor Chung Oknim and her staff at the Ilmin International RelationsInstitute did an outstanding job organizing materials and meetings for the Task Force

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