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The Korean Conundrum: America's Troubled Relations with North and South Korea Hardcover – November 25, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pull the plug on "security free-rider" South Korea, advise two Cato Institute East Asia policy experts in this blunt analysis of the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula. Despite suspicions that North Korea has jumpstarted its nuclear program, Iraq and the war on terror trump South Korea as vital U.S. national security interests. Therefore, "it is well past time for South Korea to become ‘somewhat more self reliant,’" believe Carpenter and Bandow, adding that, unless Pyongyang becomes "the global Wal-Mart of nuclear technology," America must avoid preemptive military action. To end the stalemate, the authors recommend a two-tier strategy of negotiations and on-demand inspections. In return, Pyongyang would receive renewed fuel oil shipments, a gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops from the South and other concessions. But North Korea’s "long record of perfidy on nuclear issues" suggests East Asia may have to learn to live with a nuclear "totalitarian hellhole," with the burden of containment falling on South Korea, Japan, China and Russia. The authors also laud the volatile idea that Japan or South Korea or both develop nuclear arsenals to offset the North Korean threat. Indeed, Japan emerges as the "one credible candidate to supplant the United States as regional stabilizer." While Carpenter and Bandow acknowledge that nuclear weapons remain a sensitive issue in both countries, they also dismiss "East Asian apprehension about a more assertive" Japan as "paranoid fantasy." Nevertheless, a regional nuclear arms race fueled by Japan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons may produce more destabilization than the authors anticipate. Can the U.S. secure an "amicable divorce" from South Korea on these terms? Carpenter and Bandow’s matter-of-fact answers will pique the interest of audiences attuned to the nuances of contemporary East Asian politics.
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“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. Policy makers, 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?

“...we have spent over three billion dollars a year to "defend" South Korea, one of the most advanced and prosperous countries in Asia. In spite of this, anti-American demonstrations in Seoul have drawn hundreds of thousands, and a recent front-page story in the Washington Post had a headline saying anti-Americanism there 'Deepens.' Doug Bandow and Ted Carpenter have written an important book that will hopefully lead to better relations with both Koreas and encourage less intervention in the affairs of other nations. I hope many people with influence over U.S. on foreign policy will follow the advice given on Korea and even others area of concern put forth by these to outstanding authors.” ―Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn. (2nd district, elected in 1988)

“This is a solid, sober, soundly written indictment of America's most self-destructive policy of the last 100 years. Unlike many critics of the disastrous drug war, Carpenter allows his masterful factual presentation to reach its logical conclusion: legalization, not decriminalization or some other partial measure. He has done a great service to the cause of common sense in American public policy. A superb and courageous contribution to a vital debate.” ―Arnold S. Trebach, President, International Antiprohibitionist League, author of The Great Drug War on Ted Galen Carpenter's last book, Bad Neighbor Policy

“Carpenter does a fine job of detailing the stupidity and destructiveness of U.S. government drug policies in Latin America. The more widely this book is read, the more quickly future generations will look back in shame and disgust at the crimes perpetrated by U.S. drug policies abroad.” ―Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance on Ted Galen Carpenter's last book, Bad Neighbor Policy


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