The Korean Conundrum: America’s Troubled Relations with North and South Korea

Media Name: koreanconun.jpg

About the Book

For more than fifty years one of America’s key security commitments has been to protect South Korea from North Korea. A product of hapenstance brought on by the end of World War II and frozen in time by the Cold War, the division of the peninsula once played a key role in America’s containment of global communism. Now, more than 13 years after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of communism as a serious threat to liberal democracy, the tensions between the two Koreas are a problem from another era. With massive armaments on the peninsula,North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, and a sizable contingent of U.S. forces added to the mix, Korea remains an unstable and dangerous flashpoint.

The United States seems to be heading toward a confrontation with North Korea, as Koreans in the South and nations around the world anxiously witness mounting tension. Carpenter and Bandow take a look at the twin crises now afflicting U.S. policy in East Asia: the reemergence of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and the growing anti‐​American sentiment in South Korea. They question whether Washington’s East Asia security strategy makes sense with American forces spread thin by the Iraq war and with the looming prospect of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea becoming nuclear hostages. Carpenter and Bandow put forth the most provocative solution yet to this gnarled and dangerous situation.

About the Authors

Ted Galen Carpenter is vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. Dr. Carpenter is the author of 6 books and the editor of 10 books on international affairs. His books include The Korean Conundrum: America’s Troubled Relations with North and South Korea (2004), Bad Neighbor Policy: Washington’s Futile War on Drugs in Latin America ( 2003), The Captive Press: Foreign Policy Crises and the First Amendment (1995), Beyond NATO: Staying Out of Europe’s Wars (1994), and A Search for Enemies: America’s Alliances after the Cold War (1992). He is also the author of more than 300 articles and policy studies. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, National Interest, World Policy Journal, and many other publications. He is a frequent guest on radio and television programs in the United States, Latin America, Europe, East Asia, and other regions. Dr. Carpenter received his Ph.D. in U.S. diplomatic history from the University of Texas and serves on the editorial boards of Mediterranean Quarterly and the Journal of Strategic Studies.

Senior fellow Doug Bandow is widely regarded as one of America’s most incisive observers of current events. His weekly column is published by major newspapers across the country, and he writes regularly for leading publications such as Fortune magazine. In addition to being a prolific author, Bandow speaks frequently at academic conferences, on college campuses, and to business groups. He has appeared on many national television and radio shows, from Crossfire to Oprah. Bandow speaks and writes on such diverse topics as foreign aid, religion, environmental protection, foreign policy, education, and the drug war. Bandow, who holds a B.S. in economics from Florida State University and a J.D. from Stanford, worked in the Reagan administration as special assistant to the president and has also served as editor of the political magazine Inquiry.

What Others Have Said

“This superb, well‐​researched, and timely book is about much more than the title implies. The authors go beyond appropriate indictment of U.S. policies toward the two Koreas in recent years to make a reasoned (debatable) case for substantial reductions of U.S. military commitments in the East Asia/​Pacific region. Policymakers, scholars, and students who analyze American security policy toward the region will need this book close at hand.”
—William J. Taylor, former director of national security studies at West Point and distinguished alumnus of the Center for Strategic and International Studies

Korean Conundrum makes a powerful, well‐​argued, solidly documented case for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea. This is an important book with a grim warning: that South Korea and the U.S. are headed for a ‘nasty divorce’ as the strains in their half‐​century alliance steadily grow. It presents incontestable evidence that the alliance is no longer necessary in the context of South Korea’s rising economic strength and North Korea’s continuing economic paralysis. Written in a lively, lucid style, it offers a stimulating antidote to the conventional wisdom, easily accessible to the general reader and the foreign policy specialist alike.”
—Selig Harrison, senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and author of Korean Endgame

“In the Korean Conundrum Ted Carpenter and Doug Bandow present an innovatively provocative analysis of U.S. policy toward the two Koreas, drawing on thorough research of a broad spectrum of academic and journalistic views of Korean affairs. All those interested in U.S. policy toward Asia will benefit from reading their call for an ‘amicable divorce’; predicated on ROK self‐​reliance and the end of the U.S. defensive commitment to Korea.”
—Edward A. Olsen, professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School and author of Normalizing U.S.-Korea Relations: In Due Course.