Wednesday, May 2, 2018

A note on the Korean Peninsula

A note of caution, but optimism

It would be hard to pass up a comment on events on the Korean Peninsula this week. There was an array of emotions watching North Korea's Kim and South Korea's Moon hold hands and jump that slab of concrete which has demarcated both countries now for decades. 

Saturday morning's papers

The Korean Peninsula has been a key part of my work over the last 15 years or so as I've worked on ways to secure peace in the Northeast Asian region. My primary focus has been through the idea of a security community, a community where countries share the notion that there can be dependable expectations of peaceful change. In particular I've been building on the work of Adler and Barnett (1998) which also includes shared identities values and meanings. Critics argue therefore North Korea couldn't possibly be included, indeed, the nation-states of the Northeast Asian region could not possibly ever share identities, values and meanings. 

I have long-argued that the nation-states of East Asia have as much or as little in common as the states that make up the EU, if you want to see that way. For much of my work, I have been arguing for an inclusive approach to North Korea, much in the way Burma/Myanmar was ultimately engaged in ASEAN. It is not a short-term approach, it will take time. 

All this to say that watching the two leaders on television unleashed an array of emotions as they shook hands, talked, appeared to laugh. There is much to be written on this chapter and detente is a long way off. 

But in International Relations, sometimes you have to withstand the criticisms, and take the optimistic path and hope that things will work for the better. So often the easier, belligerent path is argued, supported and perpetuated. 

Kant's Perpetual Peace is something still to aim for. 

28 April 2018; more to come.