The central purpose of my paper is to comparatively evaluate Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush’s foreign policies toward North Korea by more effectively addressing North Korea’s security concerns and, therefore, better accomplishing denuclearization goals. The main argument I made in my paper was that President Clinton’s administration had a more effective foreign policy toward North Korea because it allayed important security fears North Korea held in the international system. However, much of my evidence was grounded in international relations theory and logical argumentation because primary and direct sources – e.g. government documents and personal interviews – are highly limited with regards to North Korea. Therefore, I am not able to directly confirm my argument about North Korea’s security fears and whether one President’s policy was better received by the country. In order to compensate for this, I sought to ground my argument in international relations theory and logical argumentation such as the security dilemma and neorealist theory. The main feedback I would seek, therefore, is whether the ways in which I did defend my arguments are appropriate.
This research paper helped reveal a missing yet crucially important debate with regards to dealing with North Korea’s nuclear proliferation. The key question that the media and policymakers do not seem to ponder is whether North Korea has valid and understandable security fears that drive the country to pursue missile and nuclear technology. People’s responses to this question fundamentally alter the solutions they will propose regarding this policy issue. If North Korea does have reasonable insecurities, then the appropriate approach would be engagement that could reduce the country’s fears. If they do not, then the U.S. should pursue a coercive strategy that prevents North Korea from falsely luring the U.S. into offering concessions. Although this question is critical, frankly the common debate about North Korea in the policy arena and the media does not really pose this question to themselves or the public. And so a careful analysis of North Korea’s position in the international system – whether they are insecure or simply extorting other nations – can reveal the ideal and most effective approach to dealing with North Korea.
Chan “Peter” Kim, University of Southern California