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Security and diplomacy strategies 2

Security and Diplomacy Strategies after the Cold War (1988 to 2007)
 
Changing Policy Environment
 
Previously overwhelmed by the Cold War order worldwide, Korean security and diplomacy policies came to undergo profound transformation after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Communist bloc. Signs of the impending collapse began to emerge in the mid-1980s. General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev launched the policies of perestroika and glasnost, which prompted the states in the Eastern Bloc to seek greater autonomy in their foreign and economic policies. Detecting signs of loosening and transformation in the Soviet empire, Seoul came to release the Declaration of July 7, 1988, in which President Roh Taewoo announced Seoul’s new determination to achieve co-existence and partnership with Pyongyang and pursue a “northward policy” modeled after the West’s “push eastward.” The South Korean government came to advocate resumption and augmentation of trade with North Korea and articulated a new policy vision for building peace on the Korean peninsula. The northward policy served as the main impetus for the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement of 1991, which ushered in a new, post-Cold War era of security and diplomacy policymaking. As the Berlin Wall was brought down in 1989 and Germany achieved national reunification in 1990, the July 7 Declaration gained increasing support and momentum worldwide. South Korea thus resumed diplomatic relations with Hungary in February 1989, and also with the Soviet Union in September 1990. The implosion of the Soviet Union that reached completion in 1991 permanently altered some key concepts in international politics. Amid these changes, Seoul’s northward policy paved the way for the birth of a new, post-Cold War foreign strategy under which greater efforts were made to bring North Korea out of its self-isolation and into the international community.

The changes that began to occur in Korean security policies under the Roh Taewoo administration reflected the changes afoot in the larger global environment. Having resumed diplomatic relations with Moscow and Beijing, Seoul went on to normalize its relations with the rest of the Eastern Bloc states. The Bush administration, in the meantime, began its work toward introducing a new world order, actively inviting Russia and other former member-states of the Soviet Union into it. The Clinton administration pursued the so-called “engagement and enlargement” strategy, intent upon consolidating democracy and market economy in the former Communist states (Lake, 1996). These strategic changes in the global arena led by the United States consequently gave Korean policymakers greater room (between 1988 and 1992) to formulate new security and diplomacy policies for the post-Cold War era.

The end of the Cold War also coincided with the sweeping march of democratization in Korea and elsewhere. The democratization movement that gained momentous victories in the late 1980s ultimately culminated in the restoration of the direct presidential election system and the flourishing of civil society in Korea. The ideological warfare and national division of the Cold War era were no longer sufficient by themselves to rein in the growing desire for democratization, which began to gain increasing support around the world. As such, social factors began to play a more decisive role in Korean foreign and security policies than international and structural factors. Korean civil society, as a result, came to wield an unprecedented level of influence on policymaking during the two decades starting with the first Roh (Taewoo) administration and ending with the second Roh (Moohyun) administration.

Democratization on the domestic front, however, was far from being the sole factor in policymaking in Korea during this period. The overwhelming tides of globalization and informatization played crucial roles as well, beginning in the late 1980s. The world economic order underpinned by the Bretton Woods system began to show signs of collapse in the early 1970s, and came to be perceived as especially problematic in the late 1980s when globalization of financial and other sectors of the economy accelerated worldwide. The new trend of globalization facilitated Korea’s entry into the global market and boosted sociocultural and human exchange at various levels. As Korea’s economic, social, and cultural horizons began to broaden, so too did the range of new conditions and choices faced by the nation’s policymakers. The Kim Youngsam administration therefore sought to expand the Korean economy against the backdrop of globalization worldwide, efforts which led to South Korea’s admission into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1996. The sudden influx of global input into and influence on the Korean economy, however, also invited the Foreign Exchange Crisis in 1997. The Kim administration’s economic policy thus exposed Korean security and diplomacy strategies to a much wider range of international factors that were increasingly beyond Korea’s control.

Informatization arose as a natural result of technological advances made in society at large, and fundamentally transformed all sectors and aspects of society and living in significant ways. Civil society, first boosted by its successful democratization efforts, found renewed strength and inspiration in informatization. The government could no longer claim a monopoly on information relating to national security and foreign affairs. As openness and disclosure became new norms, the government found itself under increasing pressure to submit its policies to public scrutiny, and public diplomacy began to emerge as the new dominant mode of foreign relations worldwide. As national identity arose as a key indicator of national strength, nations began to tout and pursue “soft power” and “soft diplomacy,” and Korea embraced this new trend as well.

Another historic event that marks a watershed moment in the evolution of Korean security and diplomacy policies is the terrorist attacks on the United States, waged by al Qaeda, on September 11, 2001. The September 11 attacks exerted groundbreaking changes on the international security environment, aligning nations anew against asymmetric threats from terrorist states and groups. Counter-terrorism and the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction became the overarching norms of many states’ foreign policies. Against this backdrop of anti-terrorist campaigns and warfare, a new unipolar world order helmed by the United States began to emerge dominant. Washington began to reorganize the security environment on a planetary scale by pursuing two transformations: military transformation and transformational diplomacy. Military transformation entailed the reorganization of alliances, which came to condition and shape the new security policy of the Roh Moohyun administration in Korea.

Facing the dawn of the post-Cold War era and the rapidly changing security environment abroad, the Korean government made it a mission to formulate and articulate a whole new security policy of its own. The greater autonomy of Korean policymakers, the growing stature and profile of Korea on the world stage, democratization, and the new role of informatization required Korea’s presidents and policymakers to devise new diplomacy and security strategies befitting the changing collective identity of Koreans and the arrival of the new millennium.

Source: Korea Institute of Public Administration. 2008. Korean Public Administration, 1948-2008, Edited by Korea Institute of Public Administration. Pajubookcity: Bobmunsa.

  ##PAGE## Security and Diplomacy Strategies of the Roh Taewoo and Kim Youngsam Administrations
 
The end of the Cold War presented an unprecedented opportune moment for the Roh Taewoo administration to devise new and more independent security and diplomacy policies. Accordingly, Roh sought not only to reinforce the traditional alliance with the United States and garner greater American support for Korea’s post-Cold War foreign policy, but also to resume diplomatic relations with Moscow and Beijing, achieve reconciliation with North Korea with the northward policy, garner increasing support and consensus from the United States, the Soviet Union, and China, and enlist greater participation by civil society in its policymaking.

The Roh administration pursued augmentation of its range of partners to include member-states of the Eastern Bloc by first establishing diplomatic channels with Hungary and later resuming relations with Moscow and Beijing, with direct and indirect support from Washington throughout these processes. In September 1991, the Roh administration also succeeded in persuading Pyongyang to join the United Nations and abandon its “One Joseon” policy subsequently.

Improved international conditions enabled a sixth senior-level meeting to be held in Pyongyang in February 1992, a meeting which culminated in the historic “Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-aggression, Exchanges, and Cooperation between South and North Korea,” now better known as the “Basic Agreement.” The Basic Agreement laid down a comprehensive range of terms for mitigating political and military confrontation between the two Koreas and promoting exchange and cooperation. It also led to the creation of exchange committees in various areas of cooperation (Oberdorfer, 2000).  

The Roh administration sought to make the best use of all the changes taking place in international security and political environments for turning around the situation on the Korean peninsula, and did succeed with some of its attempts. Nevertheless, North Korea, notwithstanding its participation in the Basic Agreement and in other attempts initiated by the South for reconciliation, fundamentally remained attached to its ambition of achieving national reunification through continued confrontation and the ultimate communist revolution. The Roh administration, for its part, failed to develop an adequate international support system, garner unequivocal support from Korean civil society, and devise other policy measures capable of withstanding and managing North Korea’s resistance to its northward policy. North Korea reacted to the progress of the northward policy and the greater worldwide movement toward post-Communism by issuing nuclear threats in 1991. Pyongyang came to increasingly rely on nuclear weapons as a policy instrument for maintaining the Kim regime and for causing confusion and embarrassment in South Korea and the rest of the liberal-democratic world.

The Kim Youngsam administration came to power in 1993 in the midst of the alarming nuclear crisis instigated by North Korea. Despite continuing international support for moving beyond the Cold War framework, and its being the first legitimately elected “civilian” government, the Kim administration struggled to devise and implement innovative security and diplomacy strategies as it found itself trapped in the North Korea problem. Pyongyang declared its withdrawal from the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1993, spurred by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s demand for regular inspections of North Korea’s nuclear reactors. Pyongyang then began to insist direct, bilateral diplomacy with Washington as the only means of solving the nuclear problem. This declaration froze Seoul out of the unfolding negotiations between North Korea and the United States, and inhibited its northward policy initiatives and its abilities to find new North Korea policies. This state of things continued until the United States and North Korea finally signed the Agreed Framework in Geneva on October 21, 1994.

Notwithstanding the Agreed Framework, the continuing nuclear threats from North Korea compelled Seoul to turn toward reinforcement of its alliance with Washington. Although new attempts at reconciliation with North Korea were made via the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), the Kim administration’s policy on North Korea, except on the nuclear front, lacked consistency in general. The ongoing controversy over the legacy of Japan’s colonialism also prevented the Kim administration from establishing a new framework for post-Cold War cooperation with Japan.

Yet the Kim administration deserves some credit for starting Korea off on the track toward multilateral diplomacy in the increasingly uncertain security environment worldwide. The Korean delegation attending the senior officials’ meeting at the 1994 Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum (ARF) proposed the establishment of the Northeast Asia Security Dialogue (NEASED) encompassing the United States, Japan, China, Russia, and the two Koreas as key members. Although this vision of Korea-led multilateral diplomacy did not materialize, it served to awaken numerous nations of the need to develop a new post-Cold War framework of security cooperation, especially in Asia. The Kim administration was also the first to suggest the four-party talks in 1996, which culminated in international support for the establishment of peace on the Korean peninsula. The Kim administration took active leadership over the talks, which were participated by the United States, China, and North Korea.

In sum, the security and diplomacy strategies of the Roh Taewoo and Kim Youngsam administrations were subject to the gigantic political shifts happening worldwide upon the end of the Cold War. Witnessing new hopes for cooperation with the former member-states of the Soviet empire, the two administrations concentrated all their security and diplomatic resources on making use of these new developments and achieving reconciliation with North Korea. Yet they painfully overlooked the need to develop long-term diplomatic resources for effectively managing North Korea’s nuclear problem. The northward policy, which may have helped to ignite a new mood of reconciliation, failed to accurately assess the surprising tenacity of the Kim regime in North Korea and failed to anticipate the new types of threats North Korea would wager. North Korea’s reaction thus unduly swayed South Korean security strategy under the Roh and Kim administrations. Moreover, South Korea lost control over its own policy regarding the North due to the Agreed Framework signed by the United States and North Korea. Although Seoul succeeded in strengthening its partnership with Washington during this period, it failed to exercise all its competence and capability in devising new strategic partnerships with Japan, Russia, and China. At the same time, however, it was also during this period that South Korea’s trade with China and Russia grew dramatically. China rapidly became the second-largest recipient of Korea’s investment next only to the United States, and Korea-Russia trade grew from on average USD 900 million per year to USD 3.7 billion in 1996.

Source: Korea Institute of Public Administration. 2008. Korean Public Administration, 1948-2008, Edited by Korea Institute of Public Administration. Pajubookcity: Bobmunsa.

  ##PAGE## Security and Diplomacy Strategies of the Kim Daejung and Roh Moohyun Administrations
 
The Korean government spent the decade following the end of the Cold War struggling with various issues, including, the division of the Korean peninsula, the dangers of diplomatic brinkmanship centered on North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and threats, and the new patterns of division emerging worldwide amid the continuing legacy of the Cold War. Although economic relations and trade with China, Russia, and other former “enemy” states grew at an astonishing pace at this time, economic success did not naturally translate into greater consensus on security and diplomatic issues. Although South Korea and Japan shared a common interest in dismantling the legacy of the Cold War on the Korean peninsula, the two countries failed to achieve any systematic grounds for partnership on the matter. Korean policymakers during the first post-Cold War decade found it difficult to manage North Korea’s nuclear threats and pursue new approaches to reconciliation while maintaining a close alliance with the United States.

The end of the Cold War did not generate significant changes in the structure of the Korea-U.S. alliance. Tokyo sought to innovate the terms and conditions of its diplomatic and security alliance with the United States through the New U.S.-Japan Joint Declaration on Security conceived in 1996. Seoul failed to achieve any comparable transformation in its relations with Washington, not only because imminent threats from North Korea compromised the prospects of the post-Cold War evolution of the South Korean security strategy, but also because Korean policymakers failed to broaden their diplomatic horizons to the extent demanded by the epoch. Although the structural shift in post-Cold War international politics presented Korea with new opportunities, neither the Korean government nor Korean civil society succeeded in formulating a clear vision for a new and better security strategy.

Presidents Kim Daejung and Roh Moohyun finally managed to narrow down the focus of Korea’s post-Cold War security and diplomacy strategies to establish a peace regime on the Korean peninsula. Kim’s so-called “Sunshine Policy” envisioned national reunification as a gradual project contingent upon the successful achievement of greater exchange and reconciliation with North Korea and the eventual translation of those efforts into a peace regime for politics and security. President Roh actively embraced and inherited the basic pillars of the Sunshine Policy. Committed to realizing reconciliation and cooperation with North Korea, these two presidents molded their policies for diplomatic and security partnerships with other countries accordingly.

Taking office in the middle of the Foreign Exchange Crisis of 1997, the Kim Daejung administration was forced to focus its foreign policy far more on rebuilding the economy than on solving security concerns. Korea had failed to prepare wisely for the wave of globalization that emerged decisive in the 1990s. Struggling to overcome the economic crisis, the Korean government for the first time in its history cut its defense spending and investments in security and diplomacy. Beginning in 1998, however, President Kim became more vocal in his emphasis on reconciliation and cooperation with North Korea. Intended to prevent national reunification by absorption into North Korea, secure adequate capability for security and deterrence, and garner wide-ranging social, economic, and cultural support, the Sunshine Policy began to make great strides thanks to the President’s strong determination. Dramatic changes began to occur at an accelerated pace in the two Korea’s relations around the time of the Joint South-North Declaration of June 15, 2000. Major improvements were made in exchange on the economic, social, and cultural levels, including business partnerships and the reunions of separated families (Kim Geunshik, 2000).

The Sunshine Policy was structured on a functionalist model of cooperation. The two sides decided to postpone discussions of controversial issues of politics and diplomacy, and agreed to build trust and normalize cooperation in less controversial or sub-political areas, such as the economy, society, and culture. Proponents of the Sunshine Policy believed that the relations of cooperation and trust thus cemented would ultimately facilitate the building of political and diplomatic rapport and friendship in the long run (Kim Seongju, 2000).

This policy of tolerance and cooperation, first formulated under the Kim administration, garnered major support from neighboring countries, at least until the September 11 terrorist attacks. In a summit with President Clinton in June 1998, President Kim emphasized the need for South Korea to remain a principal actor in the process of establishing peace and national reunification on the Korean peninsula, which Clinton also acknowledged. In the Asia-Europe Meeting, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summits, and the ASEAN+3 summits held subsequently, the United States consistently expressed its support for the Sunshine Policy.

The Kim administration also envisioned the evolution of Korea-Japan relations based on overcoming the historical legacy of Japan’s colonial past. Korea finally opened its doors to Japanese cultural contents, and welcomed a historic visit by the Emperor of Japan in October 1998. It was during this visit that President Kim signed the Joint Declaration for the New Korea-Japan Partnership in the 21st Century, thus consolidating the transition into a new phase of Korea-Japan relations. The joint hosting of the World Cup in Japan and Korea in 2002 also contributed to fostering partnership between the two countries. It was in November 1998, under the Kim administration, that Korea finally began to acknowledge Japan as an ally and partner, and agreed to cement friendship on multiple levels, including in military and security matters.

The Kim administration’s security strategy, centered on the Sunshine Policy, ran into a major obstacle when the September 11 attacks occurred. The Bush administration began to regard the “rogue states” of the Clinton era as latent or actual state sponsors of terrorism, and warned the global community that weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons produced or sponsored by these states, could easily proliferate via the terrorists’ network intent on destroying the United States and its allies. Counter-terrorism and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction became the centerpieces of the post-9/11 U.S. security strategy.

President Bush began to refer to North Korea, Iran and Iraq as the “Axis of Evil,” and for the first time publicly addressed the possibility of North Korea providing its nuclear arms to terrorist groups. The visit by Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly to Pyongyang in October 2002  reflected the increasing suspicions that North Korea had violated the Agreed Framework and had already embarked upon nuclear weapons development through launching a uranium enrichment program. The so-called Second Nuclear Crisis thus broke out, escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea, and leading to the collapse of the Agreed Framework regime that had been in place for the past eight years.

These rapid changes in the international security environment and the deterioration of U.S.-North Korea relations presented major challenges to President Kim’s security and diplomacy strategies. The Sunshine Policy crucially depended on support from the United States for its success. The rise of terrorist threats and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, however, revealed and widened the gap in strategic interests between Seoul and Washington.

The steadfast focus of the Kim administration’s security and diplomacy strategies on cooperation with North Korea and dismantling the legacy of the Cold War on the Korean peninsula effectively compromised South Korea’s ability to counter and manage unforeseen changes in the surrounding security environment. Security and diplomacy strategies based on the Sunshine Policy were forced into an abrupt decline in the face of major and unpredictable events like the September 11 attacks.

The vision of establishing a peace regime on the Korean peninsula was nonetheless too desirable and important for a post-Cold War South Korea to abandon at once (Goh, 2003; Gu et al., 2005). Yet the international security environment began to change too rapidly, unpredictably, and unfavorably for the Korean government to insist on this vision. In addition to globalization that overwhelmingly shaped the security and diplomacy strategies of the previous two Kim administrations, the Roh Moohyun administration was also compelled to deal with the progress of social democracy and informatization. The diplomacy and security strategies of the Roh administration reflected the growing consciousness of Koreans of their own autonomy and their increasingly critical stance toward continuing dependence on superpower diplomacy. The advancement of the Internet and communications also emerged as new key variables in Korean electoral politics. Korean civil society came to wield a rapidly increasing influence on Korean diplomacy and security policies. While globalization and changes in the international security environment continued to influence the policies of the Roh administration in big and small ways, this administration is chiefly remembered for the almost extreme level of sensitivity it showed to the growing and changing policy demands of Korean society at large.

The Roh administration’s so-called “Policy of Peace and Prosperity” inherited the commitment to reconciliation and cooperation with North Korea from its predecessor, while also adopting a more critical and restructuring-oriented stance on the alliance with the United States (Han, 2004). In addition, conscious of tremendous shifts in the power balance due to China’s ascendancy, the Roh administration sought to maintain its distance from the security conflicts among powerful states and consolidate Korea’s position as a “strategic balancer” in Northeast Asia instead. It thus attempted to outgrow the mold of bilateral diplomacy centered on the alliance with the United States, and made increasing efforts at multilateral cooperation and dialogue on security matters.

The new North Korea nuclear crisis that broke out in October 2002 remained unsolved until the end of the Roh administration, notwithstanding the six-party talks and other related measures of multilateral diplomacy. Although the Joint Declaration of September 19, 2005, and the Agreement of February 13, 2007, helped to define the mutual obligations and action principles of the six parties, no definitive solution has arisen to answer the many questions surrounding North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

While South Korea continued to struggle with the North Korean nuclear problem and the project of establishing a peace regime on the Korean peninsula, the security environment around the globe changed at an incredible pace. The Bush administration adopted the policy of military transformation and transformational diplomacy on a fuller scale, re-arranging U.S. military commitments and troops worldwide. Whereas Washington sought to restructure the Korea-U.S. alliance in line with the transformation of other alliances around the world, Seoul demanded that the alliance be restructured in a way that recognized South Korea as an equal partner to the United States and an autonomous subject of diplomacy. Accordingly, the Roh administration oversaw the relocation of the American army base in Korea to the south of the Han River, the increase in the strategic flexibility of U.S. forces in Korea, and the growing demand for the transfer of wartime operational control over the Korean forces from the United States back to Korea. The Roh administration, however, also complied with part of the American demand for assistance in its counter-terrorism commitments worldwide by dispatching Korean troops to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 and afterward.

Though Korea and the United States fundamentally share the same strategic perceptions and assessments of the global, regional, and local security threats they face, they have ultimately failed to articulate a completely new vision for their relationship suitable for the new century. Whereas Japan has been relatively successful in renegotiating and restructuring the terms of its alliance with the United States via the New Security Declaration and other strategic talks, Korea has been able to restructure its relations with the United States in only an imperfect and improvised manner, as events and situations dictate. Most importantly, the two countries have failed to have the honest and productive conversations needed to find fundamental solutions to the North Korea problem beyond just addressing the security threats posed to the world by North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

The Roh administration did achieve a fundamental transformation in the Korean public’s basic attitude toward the Korea-U.S. alliance, shifting it in a more critical direction. As early adopters and chief beneficiaries of rapidly advancing information technology, Koreans quickly gained the ability to collect large amounts of information on the changing security environment worldwide, and promote public discourses on the changing interests and stakes that their country had in that environment. Koreans became more vocal in their criticisms of government policies, and also offered their own suggestions for future Korean security and diplomacy strategies. The Roh administration encouraged this trend by reacting to these internal voices more sensitively and quickly than to changes in the external security environment. Such sensitivity to public opinion, though, multiplied and amplified the difficulties the administration faced in trying to build a societal consensus on the free trade agreement with the United States, which undoubtedly exerted a more tangible impact on the daily lives of Koreans than did security strategies. The rapid deterioration of Korea-Japan relations under the Roh administration, over the Dokdo Island controversy and the historical legacy of Japanese colonialism, also reflected an increasingly vocal and critical Korean public.

Source: Korea Institute of Public Administration. 2008. Korean Public Administration, 1948-2008, Edited by Korea Institute of Public Administration. Pajubookcity: Bobmunsa.