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Research on the Asia-Pacific

The Asia Pacific is emerging as the most dynamic region in the global system. Included here are my recent academic papers on political, strategic, and ideological developments in the Asia-Pacific.

Recent Publications and Conference Papers

Scenarios for the Pacific Century
This paper was published in the journal World Futures in 2001.

Forecasting is fraught with difficulty, but the dynamic Asia-Pacific region is unlikely to remain static in its present configuration. This paper offers 7 scenarios for the future of integration of the Asia-Pacific that take into account economic, strategic, and cultural dimensions of change, and the kinds of events that could trigger regional reconfiguration. The scenarios are aligned along a continuum from low to high tension: 1) a formal, multilateral security regime, 2) a concert of Asia, 3) the status quo of integration under Western hegemony, 4) integration without China, 5) a neo-Confucian cultural zone, 6) tripolarization, and 7) a new cold war between the U.S. and China. The most important bilateral relation shaping the Asia-Pacific future is the U.S.-China relation. If this relationship is well managed, and if regional multilateral institutions continue to develop, tensions in the region are likely to remain low. But the potential for serious conflict over Taiwan, Korea, trade issues, and Asian values vs. Western values remains very real.

The Bush Administration, the North Korean Nuclear Crisis, and the Future of Multilateralism in Northeast Asia   This paper was published in the Ritsumeikan Journal of Asia Pacific Studies , Vol. 16, Spring 2005.

American hegemony is based on a global system of alliances and multilateral institutions, yet the U.S. has always set itself above these international institutions as the sole righteous judge of international conduct.  The Bush administration’s foreign policy expresses the same contradictions—desire for international support but willingness to act without it.  In the East Asian region, during the Clinton administration America’s hegemonic alliance systems were supplemented by  a more inclusive and expansive regional multilateralism.  Some foresaw a post-hegemonic American strategy of deepening regionalism and multilateralism.  However, the Bush administration doctrine of unilateral preemption of threats puts in doubt the whole process of East Asian integration.  If this doctrine were applied to North Korea it could repolarize the region.  The inclusion of North Korea in the axis of evil has been supplanted by demands for multilateral talks.  This is a more positive approach, but it is not yet clear whether the U.S. and North Korea are ready to make the necessary compromises.

The Bush Administration and the Range of Policy Options toward North Korea
This paper was published as part of the European and Intercultural Discourses series, May 2005.

I. Bush Administration Policies toward North Korea
     Key Events in Bush Administration Policy toward North Korea
     Conflicting Demands on U.S. Policy Toward North Korea
II. Possible Long-term Outcomes on the Korean Peninsula
III. Three Policy Approaches to the DPRK and Their Possible Outcomes
IV. Lessons of History for the Korean Peninsula

The U.S.-North Korea Relationship after the 2004 Presidential Election
This paper was presented at the Research Institute for International Affairs conference on North Korean Issues

The early days of the second Bush term will likely see more temporizing and malign neglect because the contradictory policy pressures apparent in the first term endure.  Neoconservatives will still seek greater confrontation and eventual regime change.  The realities of the region are that South Korea and China in particular will exert strong pressures to avoid confrontation and pursue negotiation.  The U.S. will still be distracted by the conflict in Iraq and perhaps by new developments in Palestine and/or Iran as well.

Frictions in the U.S.-South Korea Alliance This article appeared in the Korea Herald in June 2004

Two Visions of Convergence in Northeast Asia: The Bush Administration, North Korean Nuclear Weapons, and Regional Powers This paper was published in the Journal of American Studies in Spring 2004.

The economic and political integration of East Asia has been dramatic yet the North Korean nuclear crisis threatens to reverse this progress.  While each nation in the region has its own unique set of interests and perspectives on the Korean nuclear issue, divisions between progressives and conservatives over how to deal with the crisis cross national boundaries.  Two different views of how to further regional convergence and resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis have emerged.  A vision of evolutionary, multilateral regional convergence sees parallel interests of all the nations in the region in economic growth, political stability, and a non-nuclear Korea, and believes these interests can be satisfied through multilateral negotiation.  This view has been challenged by the hard-liners in the Bush administration who seek rapid regime change in the North and resurgence of American hegemony in the Asia Pacific.  Rapid regime change in the North is unlikely to be realized, and if it were to occur, it would likely be massively destabilizing, imposing massive costs on both Koreas and repolarizing the Northeast Asia region.   The U.S. and its allies need to recognize the reform dilemma North Korea faces.  True reform of the North cannot come until progress is made on the fundamental security issues.  The most hopeful sign is that recently the Bush administration has muted its calls for regime change and begun to work through six party talks toward a negotiated settlement.

The Nuclear Impasse on the Korean Peninsula: The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same This article appeared in the International Journal of Korean Unification Studies in January 2003

The revelation that North Korea has been secretly enriching uranium for nuclear weapons in violation of its international commitments has thrown the Korean peninsula into crisis.  The sunshine policy of South Korean President Kim Dae Jung has been undermined, but the Bush administration’s hard-line expressed in the “axis of evil” speech has also come in for criticism.  At the root of the current crisis is the failure of all sides to face up to the fundamental security issues.  Hard-liners in the U.S. and the South should reconsider their desires for rapid regime change in the North in light of its catastrophic consequences.  The interaction between reform in the North and easing of its security situation needs to be more clearly recognized.  Analysis of policy options to reverse the North’s nuclear programs shows that use of military force is much too costly and damaging to regional security. and that isolation and sanctions alone will not stop the North from acquiring nuclear weapons.  In the long run, the way to get the North to truly abandon its nuclear programs is not to isolate it further or try to buy it off only with economic aid, but to establish security cooperation in which all sides will have their security concerns addressed.

Democratization in Korea: Achievements and Remaining Tasks
This paper was presented at the Kim Dae Jung Peace Foundation's celebration of the first anniversay of Kim Dae Jung's Nobel Peace Prize award
Leadership and Hegemony in the 2000 American Presidential Election: Issues Affecting East Asia

This paper was published in the Journal of American Studies in Winter 2000.  It was presented at the American Studies Association of Korea meeting in October 2000 in Wonju, Korea.

Review of Parallax Visions by Bruce Cumings

This review appeared in the Fall 2000 issue of the Journal of Asia-Pacific Affairs

In his latest work, Bruce Cumings, who has generated more controversy than any other Korea specialist, expands his provocative, contrarian perspective to the entire Asia-Pacific region and particularly the U.S. view of East Asia. The message in Cumings' metaphor of parallax vision is an old one: No one is so blind as he who will not see. Without recapitulating Cumings' entire metaphor, his basic thesis is that how we see the "other" tells us more about ourselves that it does about them.  
Democratization in the Pacific Research

Although my original specialization was in American politics, I have lived and worked for more than a decade in East Asia, in both Japan and South Korea. Living on the edge of global integration and cultural interaction, I have become ever more interested in how well the idea of democracy "travels" when applied to nations with very different history and values than those of the West. The essay/chapters in this section are still very rough, but they develop new approaches to an old problem. 
Click on Table of Contents to find individual essays.


Short Commentaries on Korean Life and Politics

After living in Korea for more than a decade, I have occasionally written  my reflections on Korean politics and culture.

Frictions in the U.S.-South Korea Alliance This article appeared in the Korea Herald in June 2004

What Direction for Korean Economic Restructuring?   This three part series appeared in the Korea Times in January 2000.

Democracy, Hypocrisy, and the IMF Crisis   This article appeared in the Korea Times on May 25, 1998.

The Ups and Downs of Living in Korea  This is a speech I gave to a Korean NGO, the Better Korea Movement. To help prepare for Korea's hosting the 2002 soccer World Cup, they invited several foreigners to speak on the difficulties foreigners face in Korea.