There’s More to Security Than Deterrence
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There’s More to Security Than Deterrence


APLN Vice Chair Chung-in Moon argued that the search for strategic stability on the Korean Peninsula requires devising methods of deterrence capable of minimizing the interminable cycle of the security dilemma. Read the full article here.

The prospect of a crisis on the Korean Peninsula is on everyone’s lips in the US. According to Radio Free Asia’s Korean edition, the most popular search terms related to North Korea in the US in the month of January were “Is North Korea going to war with us?” and “Is North Korea preparing for war?”

The place being named as the next hotspot after Ukraine and Gaza is not Taiwan, but the Korean Peninsula. That shows how severe the “Korea risk” has grown, and the Korean stock market has been nosing downward accordingly.

The South Korean government’s attitude is unyielding. Seoul holds that there’s no reason to fear because South Korea’s alliance with the US and its military cooperation with the US and Japan provide ample deterrence against North Korea, and also because South Korea and the US are upgrading extended deterrence as a concerted response to the threat of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles.

Experts and figures in the US government believe that while the possibility of a minor military clash between South and North Korea cannot be ruled out, South Korea and the US’ current deterrence is enough to prevent the outbreak of a large-scale war and to maintain the status quo on the Korean Peninsula.

But a considerable number of people hold a contrary view. Robert Carlin and Siegfried Hecker, who recently raised eyebrows with their suggestion that Kim Jong-un has decided on a course of war, said that South Korea and the US have been “hypnotized by deterrence” and need to come up with a new plan that goes beyond that.

In fact, the word “deterrence” derives from the Latin “deterrere,” which could literally be translated as “away from fear.” But despite South Korea and the US’ powerful deterrence, security anxiety and fear on the Korean Peninsula only seem to be increasing. In short, deterrence is proving dysfunctional. Why could that be?

Image: South Korean, US and Japanese warships take part in a joint exercise south of Jeju Island that ran Jan. 15-17. (courtesy of the US Navy)

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