Just as major European leaders then believed “offense is the best defense” and tailored their military strategy to the belief, so the governments in Northeast Asia are racing to acquire the elusive pre-emptive capability that they believe will neutralize their adversary’s offensive power before it is used. Just as the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 ignited the powder keg of Europe to explode into World War I, is an accident in the Taiwan Strait or the Korean Peninsula going to set off a complex chain reaction that no one can control and that may lead to an outcome no one desires?
We will examine recent developments in the region, including North Korea’s legalization of nuclear weapons use and the Kishida government’s adoption of “counterattack capability,” to critically assess the region-wide arms race toward the first strike capability and the dangers of an accidental war in the region.
Jae-Jung (J.J.) SUH is Professor in the Department of Politics and International Studies at International Christian University (Tokyo, Japan). He has served as Associate Professor and Director of Korea Studies at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University and Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University, and is Visiting Scholar at Harvard-Yenching Institute for 2022-23. An expert on U.S.-Korea relations, U.S. policy toward Asia, international relations of East Asia, international security, and IR theory, he is currently working on regional orders in East Asia, human security, and North Korea. He is author of Power, Interest and Identity in Military Alliances (2007); Rethinking Security in East Asia: Identity, Power and Efficiency (2004); Truth and Reconciliation in the Republic of Korea: Between the Present and Future of the Korean Wars (2012); Origins of North Korea’s Juche: Colonialism, War, and Development (2012).
Photo: Taiwanese F-16 fighter jet in foreground flies on the flank of a Chinese H-6 bomber, Feb. 10, 2020. © Taiwan Ministry of National Defense/AP
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