By Andrew Carpenter and Ulrika Grufman
(For more information on this feature, see here.)
And this week’s in the weeds conceptual/theoretical articles on nuclear weapons and related issues include…
North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and the maintenance of the Songun system
Habib, B. 2011. North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and the maintenance of the Songun system, The Pacific Review, 24:1, March 2011. pp.43-64.
“Indeed, it is the North Korean regime’s long-term vulnerabilities – weak economy, agricultural inefficiency, energy shortages, rigid political system and ideological fragility – that make the argument against the regime’s willingness to denuclearise so persuasive.” (p.59)
Habib makes the case that North Korea is unlikely to ever abandon its nuclear weapons. Instead he argues that they are likely to continue modernizing their existing arsenal. The author outlines two main arguments for his conclusion. The first is that the North Korean nuclear weapons programme has been ongoing for decades and Pyongyang has never shown any great willingness to disarm. Secondly, the country’s status as a nuclear power gives them leverage in international negotiations which they would not otherwise have. Habib argues that this is not only needed to help the country’s broken economy, but this status is used by the regime as a nationalistic rallying symbol.
The Empire’s New Clothes: Overrating China
Coonen, S. 2011. The Empire’s New Clothes: Overrating China. Joint Forces Quarterly. 63. Fall 2011.
“America should thus seek solutions and policies to the mutual benefit of its economic partners, of which China is arguably the most important.” (Fall 2011)
Coonen argues that China’s economy is not a threat to the United States. He examines the benefits for the United States in China’s continued economic growth, while highlighting the difficulties that China’s economy will face in the future. Economics is not a zero sum game, and a strong Chinese economy can be beneficial for the United States. Coonen claims that China’s ownership of a significant portion of the United States’ debt is not a cause for concern. Even though Coonen points out that Chinese economic growth would be beneficial, he also tries to alleviate fears by showing that China is moving away from the free market system that has allowed it to grow rapidly, which will likely lead to China’s economy slowing down. Coonen suggests that China is not an economic threat, and the United States should pursue cooperative policies that would benefit both countries.
The Collapse of North Korea: Military Missions and Requirements
Bennett, B. & Lind, J. 2011. The Collapse of North Korea: Military Missions and Requirements. International Security. 36:2. Fall 2011. pp. 84-119.
“Based on fairly optimistic assumptions about how a collapse would occur, we estimate that 260,000–400,000 troops would be necessary to staff the missions described here.” (p. 118)
Bruce Bennett and Jennifer Lind analyze the military missions, and what forces would likely be required to complete them in the event of a North Korean regime collapse. They estimate that between 260,000 and 400,000 troops would be required to complete military missions in North Korea. While South Korea currently has the required troops to do this, they conclude that there should be regional cooperation among China, South Korea and the United States. Finally Bennett and Lind suggest that plans should be made before there is an indication of a collapse. South Korea should reach out to North Korean military commanders promising amnesty if they surrender their forces in event of a regime collapse.