Drawing on more than two hundred interviews with key players in Washington, Seoul, Tokyo, and Beijing, including Colin Powell, John Bolton, and ex–Korean president Kim Dae-jung, as well as insights gained during fourteen trips to Pyongyang, Mike Chinoy takes readers behind the scenes of secret diplomatic meetings, disputed intelligence reports, and Washington turf battles as well as inside the mysterious world of North Korea. Meltdown provides a wealth of new material about a previously opaque series of events that eventually led the Bush administration to abandon confrontation and pursue negotiations, and explains how the diplomatic process collapsed and produced the crisis the Obama administration confronts today.
Mike Chinoy is the Edgerton Senior Fellow on Asia at the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles. Until 2006, he was a foreign correspondent for CNN, largely in Asia, and made numerous visits to North Korea over the course of nearly two decades.
Coming from different perspectives—Kang believes the threat posed by Pyongyang has been inflated and endorses a more open approach, while Cha is more skeptical and advocates harsher measures, though both believe that some form of engagement is necessary—the authors together present authoritative analysis of one of the world’s thorniest challenges. They refute a number of misconceptions and challenge the faulty thinking that surrounds the discussion of North Korea, particularly the idea that North Korea is an irrational actor. Cha and Kang look at the implications of a nuclear North Korea, assess recent and current approaches to sanctions and engagement, and provide a functional framework for constructive policy. With a new chapter on the way forward for the international community in light of continued nuclear tensions, this book is of lasting relevance to understanding the state of affairs on the Korean peninsula.
The definitive account of North Korea, its veiled past and uncertain future, from the former Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council
In The Impossible State, seasoned international-policy expert and lauded scholar Victor Cha pulls back the curtain on this controversial and isolated country, providing the best look yet at North Korea's history, the rise of the Kim family dynasty, and the obsessive personality cult that empowers them. He illuminates the repressive regime's complex economy and culture, its appalling record of human-rights abuses, and its belligerent relationship with the United States, and analyzes the regime's major security issues—from the seemingly endless war with its southern neighbor to its frightening nuclear ambitions—all in light of the destabilizing effects of Kim Jong-il's recent death.
How this enigmatic nation-state—one that regularly violates its own citizens' inalienable rights and has suffered famine, global economic sanctions, a collapsed economy, and near total isolation from the rest of the world—has continued to survive has long been a question that preoccupies the West. Cha reveals a land of contradictions, one facing a pivotal and disquieting transition of power from tyrannical father to inexperienced son, and delves into the ideology that leads an oppressed, starving populace to cling so fiercely to its failed leadership.
With rare personal anecdotes from the author's time in Pyongyang and his tenure as an adviser in the White House, this engagingly written, authoritative, and highly accessible history offers much-needed answers to the most pressing questions about North Korea and ultimately warns of a regime that might be closer to its end than many might think—a political collapse for which America and its allies may be woefully unprepared.
Coming to the issues from different perspectives—Kang believes the threat posed by Pyongyang has been inflated and endorses a more open approach, while Cha is more skeptical and advocates harsher measures—the authors together have written an essential work of clear-eyed reflection and authoritative analysis. They refute a number of misconceptions and challenge much faulty thinking that surrounds the discussion of North Korea, particularly the idea that North Korea is an irrational nation. Cha and Kang contend that however provocative, even deplorable, the Pyongyang government's behavior may at times be, it is not incomprehensible or incoherent. Neither is it "suicidal," they argue, although crisis conditions could escalate to a degree that provokes the North Korean regime to "lash out" as the best and only policy, the unintended consequence of which are suicide and/or collapse. Further, the authors seek to fill the current scholarly and policy gap with a vision for a U.S.-South Korea alliance that is not simply premised on a North Korean threat, not simply derivative of Japan, and not eternally based on an older, "Korean War generation" of supporters.
This book uncovers the inherent logic of the politics of the Korean peninsula, presenting an indispensable context for a new policy of engagement. In an intelligent and trenchant debate, the authors look at the implications of a nuclear North Korea for East Asia and U.S. homeland security, rigorously assessing historical and current U.S. policy, and provide a workable framework for constructive policy that should be followed by the United States, Japan, and South Korea if engagement fails to stop North Korean nuclear proliferation.