ICAS Spring Symposium &
Humanity, Peace and Security
May 19, 2004 Wednesday 12:30 PM - 5:30 PM
United States Rayburn House Office Building Room RHOB 2200
Institute for Corean-American Studies, Inc.
965 Clover Court, Blue Bell, PA 19422
Tel : (610) 277-9989; (610) 277-0149
Fax: (610) 277-3289
Biographic Sketch & Links: David S Maxwell
A Long Term Strategy for the Korean Peninsula
David S Maxwell
The opinions expressed in this paper are the author’s and represent no U.S. Government or Department of Defense positions.
I am going to talk about two things. First is that I think we need to develop more than a policy for dealing with the Korean situation, I think we need a long term strategy for ultimately resolving the "Korea Question". Second I am going to talk about the ROK-US alliance which, despite the current tensions, still remains the center of gravity upon which resolution of the Korea Question rests. This is an especially timely conference given the recent decision to deploy US troops from Korea to Iraq. I will also comment on this as well.
I would like to open my remarks with a quote from a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Dr. Kurt Campbell who made the following statement when I was a planner in Korea in the late 1990’s working on contingency planning for possible problems we might face in the future.
"There are only two ways to approach planning for the collapse of North Korea: to be ill-prepared or to be really ill- prepared"
Dr. Campbell’s statement, though it appears tongue in cheek, is really quite instructive when it comes to the United States and issues on the Korean Peninsula. Korea is complex; a country and a people not easily understood by most westerners and despite its long history of conflict and US involvement over almost the last 150 years 2 , it remains an enigma to most Americans. Furthermore, Korean policies, and more importantly, strategies for dealing with security issues on the Korean Peninsula have been difficult to develop and sustain and have been focused on little more than maintaining the status quo. Two alternatives to the status quo border on the unthinkable: one, a war launched by Kim Jong Il to reunify Korea. The second is a catastrophic collapse of the regime in the north that can very likely lead to some form of conflict between north and south with the US a major actor in the final drama. In both cases we can expect to see horrendous suffering among the Korean people and significant impact on the region and the global economy. However, these potential crises have left the Republic of Korea and US as allies virtually paralyzed from developing a long term strategy to resolve the "Korea Question" 3 and doing nothing more than reacting to events while maintaining a deterrent and defensive posture with their military forces. I use the "Korea Question" as it is referred to in the 1953 Armistice Agreement, Section IV, paragraph 60, which states: "In order to insure the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, the military Commanders of both sides hereby recommend to the governments of the countries concerned on both sides that, within three (3) months after the Armistice Agreement is signed and becomes effective, a political conference of a higher level of both sides be held by representatives appointed respectively to settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, and the peaceful settlement of the Korean question". Of course this has not happened and the Korea Question remains unresolved to this day.
Today the United States, Northeast Asia, and perhaps even the entire international community face a potentially severe crisis on the Korean Peninsula. The crisis is two-fold: first is the erosion of the 51 year ROK-US alliance and the second is the nuclear development program of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) 4 . All eyes are on the United States, the DPRK, and the other four members of the so-called "6 Party Talks": the ROK, Japan, China, and Russia. The issue is whether or not the DPRK will become a member of the "nuclear club" thus potentially destabilizing Northeast Asia as well as the possibility of the DPRK providing nuclear capabilities to other rogue states as well as non- state terrorist organizations.
In April 2003 the former ROK Minister of Defense, retired General Kim Dong Shin, wrote a paper for the National Defense University’s Strategic Forum in which he described the state of the ROK-US alliance. He called for a new approach to the alliance and specifically stated the need for a ROK-US "strategic plan that defines shared objectives and the means for achieving them." 5 I think we should take up General Kim’s challenge and develop a strategic plan with a framework that will help guide the ROK and US to achieving a lasting peace on the Peninsula and the ultimate resolution of the Korea Question.
My thesis has five propositions:
The key to any strategy must be to have a clearly defined end state and I believe that the end state I have outlined is the only one that can solve the Korea Question once and for all.
As dangerous as today’s nuclear crisis is, it is still only one symptom of the problem that exists on the divided Korean Peninsula. The reason the world is faced with this threat lies solely on the shoulders of one entity -- the Kim Family Regime, as established by the late Kim Il Sung and now led by his son, Kim Jong Il. The United States needs to do two very important things: namely, to forestall and minimize conflict and assist the people on the Korean Peninsula to ultimately solve the "Korea question" once and for all.
Alliance Policies: Contrast and Conflict
In the midst of the 2002 Nuclear crisis and the crisis of deterioration of the alliance, the ROK held its Presidential election and elected the left- center, progressive Roh Moo Hyun. Roh was elected on a platform that called for more independence in the ROK-US alliance as well as increased engagement with the North. 6 President Roh had no plans to abandon Kim Dae Jung’s Sunshine Policy and renamed it the "Peace and Prosperity Policy." This policy is termed a "balanced approach to peace and prosperity," pursuing a "parallel approach to economics and military/security issues." 7 The policy can be summed up in four guiding principles:
For the ROK the desired end of this policy is a peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula with the North and South co-existing under their respective systems and the concept of reunification deferred until the future. The means for achieving these ends is through diplomacy with the ways by establishing mutual trust and international cooperation and maintaining strong domestic public support in the ROK.
For the US, the end is a non-nuclear North Korea with the means being diplomatic and military. The way to achieve this end is through termination of the Agreed Framework, the withholding of any "carrots," the building of an international consensus against the North’s program, to be backed up by planning for economic sanctions and military action.
What exists today are two policies in conflict. The reasons for this are complex and later the reasons for some of the differing views of the Korean Peninsula by Americans and Koreans will be examined. A fundamental conflict is the idea of trust. The ROK wants to build a relationship based on trust while the US believes the North cannot be trusted at all. On the other hand there is some similarity in that both these policies are very shortsighted. The ROK policy is focused on peace and prosperity while the US is focused only on the current threat of the nuclear issue. The question to be asked is should the Alliance take a longer term view of the situation on the Peninsula and should it focus on achieving a resolution to the "Korea Question?"
North Korean Goals and Strategy
I do not want to go into detail about the nature of the Kim Family Regime because everyone here is intimately familiar with it and much more expert than me. However, it is important for understanding any strategy what the goals of the Kim Family Regime are. Kim has not wavered from the long standing national strategy. It can be summed up in four simple interests and objectives:
This strategy is at the core of every decision. Kim Jong Il’s personal survival is the dominant goal. While many people will say that Kim Jong Il cannot be dealt with because he is an irrational decision maker, this is not the case when his decisions are viewed from the ideological perspective and in terms of the national strategy. 13 All his decisions are rational when viewed in terms of the Regime’s aims and objectives.
Kim and Sun Tzu?
An important part of the DPRK’s efforts has been to attempt to employ the Sun Tzu strategy of splitting the alliance. 14 The DPRK has attempted to capitalize on the deteriorating relations between the ROK and US particularly following the tragic accident in June 2002 in which two teenage Korean girls were hit and killed by a US armored vehicle during routine training and the US unilateral initiatives to relocate US forces farther south on the peninsula. In addition, the regime has attempted to win the hearts and minds of the ROK population by such actions as restarting family reunion visits, agreeing to open economic corridors and re-establish rail links between north and south. This has led to many in the ROK, particularly among the younger generation, to view the DPRK in a favorable light and look upon the US with increased hostility. The goal of course is to drive both the ROK and US public opinion to reach the same conclusion for different reasons: US forces no longer should be on the peninsula. If US forces are withdrawn the DPRK achieves a key condition to achieve reunification on its terms.
Because of this strategy the KFR is not going to negotiate in good faith. While an agreement may be reached, such as the 1994 Agreed Framework 15 with the United States or the 1992 Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-aggression, and Exchanges (ARNE) 16 with the ROK the KFR has not lived up to them and in fact violated these as well as the Non- proliferation Treaty (NPT). The DPRK honestly believes that it needs nuclear weapons as a deterrent against the United States. At a minimum the threat of a nuclear capability is a useful tool to use to "blackmail" the international community to gain political and economic concessions. Interestingly, this plays well into the ideology of the regime. The DPRK can explain to its people that the food aid it receives from the international community as a "tribute" to the KFR because its military capabilities are so feared. This fits nicely in with its "military first" policy. 17
Foundation of a Comprehensive and Combined Strategy
A fundamental assumption is that the United States wants to continue to maintain influence and provide security guarantees within Northeast Asia for the foreseeable future and even and especially after reunification of the Peninsula. If this assumption is not valid then the United States may consider totally withdrawing its military presence and allowing the Korea question to be solved by the North and South Koreans themselves. However, another fundamental assumption of this strategy is that the withdrawal of United States Forces Korea (USFK) will eventually lead to a conflict initiated by Kim Jong Il.
The first priority for the foundation of a strategy is to repair the relationship between the alliance partners in order to ensure that an effective combined military capability remains in place to do three things: (1) deter an attack (conventional or WMD) by the DPRK, and if deterrence fails, (2) defeat an attack from the north; and (3) respond effectively to the chaos, instability and conflict that is likely to result from the collapse of the KFR. It appears that these goals are not in the forefront of either alliance partner’s strategic decision making at present time.
The problem with the alliance is evidenced on the US side by a number of events. For example by President Bush not visiting the ROK during his Asia trip for the APEC summit in Thailand 18 as well as Roh Moo Hyun being one of the heads of state not invited to the President’s ranch in Crawford, Texas or being honored with a State Dinner as was the President of the Philippines when visiting the US. The Administration’s lack of understanding of the situation in South Korea is further evidenced by the trip of Vice President Cheney to Korea on the day of the National Assembly elections in the ROK on 15 April 2004. 19 More significantly this erosion is evidenced by the unilateral US decision to move 2ID south of Seoul and the most recent decision to deploy a Brigade from the 2d ID to Iraq. Although these decisions were made under the guise of transformation and the very real need for US troops in Iraq, these decisions were made with little to no consultation within the alliance. This erodes trust between the two partners.
On the ROK side there is a rising tide of Anti-American sentiment which feeds into a cycle of growing resentment among the populations of both nations. South Korea has boxed itself into a corner with the Sunshine Policy of Kim DJ and now the Peace and Prosperity policy of Roh. This has led to a widespread feeling among the South Korean people and the political left that North Korea is no longer a significant threat. There is a popular belief that US troops are not necessary and even an extreme view that US troops are an impediment to peace and stability. This has particularly come about with the establishment of the US doctrine of pre- emption and calls by some such as William Safire for the complete withdrawal of US forces so that the US can have the flexibility of taking US unilateral action against North Korea’s nuclear program without US forces being in harm’s way as a trip wire.
Based on long standing misunderstandings of history both the South Korean people and the American public have developed an increasing animosity toward the alliance. On the one hand, many of the younger Koreans of the so-called "386 generation" and many on the left now view ROK-US history in terms of problems caused by the US. From allowing the Peninsula to fall under the Japanese sphere of influence after the Russo-Japanese War to dividing the Peninsula in 1945, to support for military authoritarian governments and the perception of connection to Kwangju uprising, many Koreans feel that the US has been responsible for some of the most tragic events in Korea’s last century. American’s look at Korean history in terms of the Korean War and the sacrifice 37,000 Americans made to ensure Korea’s freedom and cannot understand why Korea seems so ungrateful. This combination of lack of Korean perception of the threat and rising anti-Americanism has led the US administration to conclude that it can withdraw troops that are needed for Iraq. However, I believe that our recent actions need to be a wake up call for the alliance.
Only when a strong alliance is in place can the United States and the ROK then focus on the second priority of using all of the alliance’s elements of national power toward developing and executing a new combined, synchronized strategy that seeks to achieve a mutually agreed upon end state.
This combined strategy has to be able to accomplish three overarching objectives: forestall conflict and/or regime collapse until the Peninsula is prepared for reunification, manage the near term crises caused by the KFR and its attempts to use provocation and "blackmail" to achieve political and economic concessions, and prepare the population in the North for eventual reunification. This recommended approach is based on a third fundamental assumption: No combination of coercion (short of war) or engagement is going to cause the KFR regime to alter its goals or change its behavior to the complete satisfaction of the international community. This means that negotiations by the "6 parties" will be unable to achieve a "complete, verifiable, irreversible, dismantling" (CVID) 20 of the North’s nuclear program. No more than temporary agreements to freeze the North’s nuclear program are possible and the efforts of the United States, the ROK, or the United Nations will not lead to a peaceful and final settlement of the "Korea question" as long as the Kim Family Regime exists.
A Radical Departure from Current Policy?
A radical new strategy needs to be developed in conjunction with two pieces of sage wisdom that Dr. William Perry, the former Secretary of Defense advises. First, the US has to deal with the DPRK as it is and not as it would wish it to be. Second, borrowing from the late President Kennedy, "never negotiate from fear, but never fear to negotiate." 21 Even though the US should not assume that it will negotiate as it would like North Korea to, it does not mean that negotiation should not be an important element of this new strategy.
This new strategy can be summarized by giving the KFR two of its four national objectives. Any strategy must encompass assurance of regime survival and recognition as a world power. 22 At the same time, a hard line must be maintained that reunification of the peninsula by force is not an option (by either the ROK or the DPRK) and the US will not withdraw forces from the peninsula until the security situation is resolved which will be demonstrated through a peace treaty between the ROK and the DPRK.
Adoption of the end state I have already proposed or a similar one would provide the basis for the development of the long term strategy. The publicly stated end state would be a stable, secure, peaceful, economically vibrant, non-nuclear peninsula, while confidentially the ROK and US should work toward the latter: [the peninsula] reunified under a liberal constitutional and democratic form of government. Given the dangers of regime collapse and the potential for war the first imperative of the strategy is to sustain the illusion for Kim Jong Il that his regime can survive. This illusion must be sustained for as long as it takes the ROK and US to become prepared to deal with the costs of reunification in whatever form it comes. 23 As long as Kim Jong Il believes he will survive and have the possibility at some time in the future to achieve reunification under his terms he will in effect be deterred from attacking.
To sustain this illusion an aggressive and sophisticated information operations program must be initiated. An example of one element could be a joint declaration by the ROK and US that they have established a projected withdrawal date for US forces at some time in the future such as in 2012 or 2017 in conjunction with a ROK Presidential election. This would have the likely effect of forestalling any deliberate attack until that time as Kim Jong Il has the patience to wait for the optimal conditions. However, this would buy the alliance about a dozen years in which to execute its long term strategy.
One point must be noted here before continuing. Although it seems counterintuitive, the regime needs to have a strong ROK-US alliance with a robust military capability on the peninsula. The reason for this is that it supports the regime’s military first policy that allows the DPRK to continue the "Spartan existence" by its people as they know they must sacrifice for the security of their nation with the threat it faces to the south. 24 US forces, along with a strong ROK military, actually enhance regime legitimacy. We should not lose sight of this.
Most radically however, the US and the ROK should take the bold step of immediately normalizing relations with the DPRK. Despite the repulsiveness of the regime, normalization of relations provides a way to establish an ability to maintain permanent communications channels. More important, normalized relations provide the potential for increased access to the regime and the population. Normalization must be comprehensive and include the removal of all barriers to trade.
As part of normalization the 1953 Armistice Agreement should be thoroughly re-examined and a negotiation process should be initiated to negotiate a formal peace treaty. This should be done without consideration of the DPRK nuclear development program. In fact a key factor in influencing the regime to negotiate may be to recognize the fact that the DPRK possesses a nuclear capability and that the ROK, US and even the United Nations are willing to negotiate a peace treaty disconnected from its nuclear capability. For Kim Jong Il this would likely be viewed as being recognized as a world power with significant influence. Although this will likely be a long and drawn out process, along with normalization, it will serve the important purpose of maintaining an active dialogue as well as access to the regime and potentially a wide range of officials in the middle and upper levels of the party, relationships to whom will be critical in any post Regime outcome.
Here is another quote that also demonstrates the complexity of the problem we are dealing with.
"Either [North Korea] is going to …invade the South…or it will collapse internally, or implode because of the incredible economic problems the country faces; or third, it will over time lead to some peaceful resolution with the South."It is no wonder that there is no comprehensive strategy for dealing with North Korea with three such diverse scenarios put forth by the Intelligence Community. While on the one hand this statement can certainly be looked at as one covering all the bases, it is really illustrative of the complexities that policy makers and strategists have faced when thinking about the "Korea Question." On the one hand the military of both the ROK and the US are obligated to plan for the worst case scenario and for the past 51 years this has been the main effort in planning. However, for the ROK Government, particularly with the rise of the liberal, center-left leaders in South Korea, such as Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo Hyun, the focus has been on peaceful resolution and even co-existence. Finally the collapse and implosion/explosion scenarios have been deemed as too complex for most planners, and certainly so expensive as to scare the governments and people alike.
However, this complexity and uncertainty is why we need a combined ROK-US strategy such as the one I call "Comprehensive Engagement with Strength: Partner and Prosper".
Why a Combined Strategy?
The Korean Peninsula has a unique 5000 year history but for the past 150 years it has been intertwined with the US and for the past 51 years the ROK and US have been inextricably linked. Despite the rising tide of anti- Americanism in South Korea and feelings of ambivalence if not resentment toward the ROK by a growing number of Americans due to that anti- American sentiment, the US cannot extricate itself from the ROK for two main reasons. First the US has a responsibility to help solve the "Korea Question" because, like it or not, it has had a hand in causing the division of the Peninsula.
The second reason is that it is a vital interest of the United States to be fully engaged in Northeast Asia and to ensure security and economic prosperity for the region and for the US in both the near term and over the long term, even after reunification. The status quo offers a measure of stability, but the status quo cannot be maintained indefinitely; eventually there will be a change in the regime to the north and some form of upheaval is likely. While crises have occurred in the past 51 years, not even the nuclear crisis will compare to the potential twin disasters of collapse or war and the potential for the devastation of the Peninsula, the huge toll in human suffering, and the damage to the regional, US, and world economies.
There is no doubt that war must be as a minimum forestalled and at best prevented but when Kim Jong Il is faced with imminent collapse his only option to guarantee his survival may be to execute his military campaign to reunify the Peninsula. There may be nothing that can deter Kim when he is faced with such an untenable situation as imminent regime collapse and loss of control of the regime and the nation. Therefore, as it has for 51 years the alliance must continue to prepare to defeat an attack from the North. Conversely, if there is regime collapse and the internal situation turns chaotic and violent with the attendant humanitarian disaster, the alliance must also be prepared with a military response as well. Deterrence, defense and military preparedness have to be the foundation of any strategy.
This foundation must be made unshakable and that must be done through a strong alliance in which each partner maximizes its strengths to minimize the weaknesses as DOD is trying to do through its transformation efforts. Once the foundation is firm then the framework of the strategy for solving the "Korea Question" can be erected. This framework must be large and have much room to maneuver. The internal workings of the framework must be flexible enough to deal with multiple crises and forestall and deter war but also to identify opportunities from crises that can be exploited in ways that will contribute to reaching the ultimate end state. Key to making this strategy work is going to be intensive management, coordination and collaboration by the alliance. The situation on the Peninsula will not remain static therefore the strategy cannot be static.
Strategy Development to Repair the Alliance
The alliance is in a state of disrepair so the first step must be to repair it. While no easy feat to do so, the tensions and distrust that have arisen as well as the policy differences between the two allies since the end of the Cold War must be overcome. It will require intervention and direction at the highest levels to rebuild the ties that have become weak. There are three basic requirements to repair the alliance. First is that both administrations must believe it is in their best interests to do so and will make the commitment to repair it. The second step is to establish a long term vision acceptable to both countries that focuses on achieving an end state that solves the "Korea Question." Finally, both nations must commit to establishing a structure that is committed to not only developing the combined strategy but also to managing that strategy until the end state is achieved.
Assuming both nations desire to re-commit to and strengthen the alliance the following is the proposed end state that I have previously stated:
A stable, secure, peaceful, economically vibrant, non-nuclear peninsula, reunified under a liberal constitutional form of government determined by the Korean people.
Reunification is the only acceptable long term outcome that can ensure stability on the Peninsula. The goal is noble and right but the path to get there is literally and figuratively a minefield and it will take a concerted and coordinated effort by the alliance to get there. Therefore a structure is required for the development and management of the strategy for navigating the minefields. Both nations at the National Security Council level should establish a Korea Strategy Division (KSD) to develop, refine and adjust their country’s strategies as well as manage their respective nations’ actions within the strategic framework. Together these Divisions will form the Korea Strategy Group (KSG). This will have permanently assigned members from each KSD co-chaired by each nation’s senior member and will meet on a quarterly basis rotating between both capitals. Most important is that the members will have secure, direct communications capability to maintain close coordination in all areas. The KSG will be chartered to manage and ensure synchronization of all elements of national power in the pursuit of the established end state. Together they will manage strategic level Peninsula crises and seek opportunities for implementing elements of the strategy. Each KSD will serve as the focal point for their respective nation in which to ensure synchronization of all actions by its elements of national power. One of the subtle purposes of the KSG is to bring together ROK and US national security professionals in a disciplined process that will allow transparency and prevent misunderstanding between the allies.
The process of developing and managing the strategy will cause issues to be thoroughly staffed and coordinated and the increased contact will create an environment more conducive to cooperation and understanding. 26 ROK and US individual policies are not intended to be identical. In fact, it is probably better that they are different as the differences may be able to be exploited to create opportunities with the North. At times the combination of hard line and engagement ("good cop, bad cop") may be the right way to create opportunities. The most important thing is for the actions to be synchronized toward achieving the desired end state.
The Strategy: Comprehensive Engagement with Strength: Partner and Prosper
This strategy has three pillars. The first is strong combined military capability that exploits the inherent strengths among the partners so that the alliance is prepared to defend against any attack and defeat it when it occurs. It is also capable of executing the military component of any plan developed to deal with instability or the collapse of the regime. The second is comprehensive engagement across the political and economic spectrum with the North. Engagement is the key to access and access to all levels of the North from the regime to the people is a necessary requirement for preparing for a post-Kim Jong Il Korean Peninsula. Engagement must have a dual focus. It must support managing relations with the regime while at the same time gaining access to as much of the North Korean population as possible into order to expose them to ideas from the outside. A key objective is to sustain and maximize talks with the regime regardless of whether or not concrete agreements are reached. Although it goes against the normal American mindset of wanting to bring negotiations to a successful conclusion, success is measured by sustained diplomatic engagement to create opportunities to allow for the navigation toward achievement of the desired end state -- resolution of the Korea Question.
The third pillar is also dual focused: a partnership of the ROK and US will create a prosperous region but also the offer will always be on the table for the North to partner with the ROK and US in order to have the opportunity to share in the prosperity.
While this provides an overarching concept for the strategy, the KSG must undertake some difficult tasks. The most important is to come to an agreement on the divergent ROK and US policies that currently exist. As already stated there is a split within the US between "regime changers" and "engagers". This is the general split between the ROK and US as well with the ROK desiring to engage while the US wants to take the hard line and focus particularly hard on the nuclear issue. The task of resolving the policy differences will be made easier if some form of the above end state is accepted. The proposed end state implies regime change which is the only way that final resolution of the Korea Question can occur; however, the method for regime change does not have to be the Iraq/Afghanistan model and in fact this must be avoided. Ideally any change to the regime would come from within and this needs to be focus of the strategy. 27 (But is something that would have to be discussed in another paper!)
The nuclear issue has only been mentioned briefly. It is not the main focus of the strategy. The nuclear issue is complex and certainly potentially very dangerous but it also can provide the alliance with opportunities as well. The obvious opportunity is for contact with members of the regime. It can also have a time component as well. Critics focus on the breach of the Agreed Framework by the DPRK and emphasize that the North cannot be trusted. Perhaps another way to look at it is that the Agreed Framework helped to manage the problem for a number of years and perhaps if we had continued to engage we would still be managing it today and not had the current crisis.
The only solution to the nuclear issue is reaching the end state because the Kim Family Regime is not going to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Kim believes nuclear weapons are critical to his survival. Therefore until the end state can be reached, the crisis must be managed. The Agreed Framework showed that it is possible to reach some kind of stop gap agreement that will slow or hinder the pursuit of its nuclear program. However, the alliance has to be realistic and understand the problem can only be managed and must do so while focusing on ways to achieve the long term end state. Short of military action I do not believe that Kim will ever give up his nuclear program as long as he is in power. In his calculus it is key to his survival.
I would like to close with a final thought about the deployment of US troops to Iraq. I predict that we could see a major provocation by Kim Jong Il. If he was smart he would do nothing because his Sun Tzu strategy of splitting the alliance is working and further inaction on his part will lead to further reductions of US forces. If he is patient he will get the force ratios he thinks he needs along with the lack of US tripwire for him to launch his campaign plan to reunify the Peninsula under his control. However, because of his ego and his quest to be looked at as a superpower he is going to interpret this as an insult and will likely conduct a provocation to keep everyone thinking about him. Plus, although it is counter-intuitive, as I previously stated he needs a strong military presence on the part of the US to maintain regime legitimacy -- if the threat to the south dissolves he will be faced with a challenge to his "military first policy." Then we could see internal turmoil in the north which of course could lead to dangerous consequences.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that the key to the future is a strong ROK US alliance. The alliance must be focused on achieving an end state that ultimately solves the Korea Question. A strategy that is well orchestrated and capable of managing crises is the only way that this can be achieved. I believe that by establishing a combined national level Korea Strategy Group, the alliance can be strengthened and an effective combined strategy can developed and executed that will allow the alliance to manage crises and exploit opportunities to work toward achieving resolution to the Korea Question.
Colonel David S. Maxwell, U.S. Army, is a Special Forces officer with command and staff assignments in Korea, Japan, Germany, the Philippines, and CONUS, and is a graduate of the School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth. The opinions he expresses in this paper are his and represent no U.S. Government or Department of Defense positions.