STANFORD, Cal.-- A new alliance of scholars today urged
the United States to normalize relations with North Korea,
saying that current U.S. policies toward the country escalate
tensions and undermine U.S. security and economic interests.
Katherine Moon, associate professor of political science
at Wellesley College who studies US-Korea relations, is
a member of the newly formed group.
Current U.S. policies, including threats of military action
and increased economic isolation, further alienate a state
that needs to be drawn into engagement in order to resolve
the nuclear issue, reduce the threat of proliferation, and
achieve a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula, according
to the Alliance of Scholars Concerned about Korea (ASCK).
Current U.S. policies escalate tensions and bring the Korean
peninsula perilously close to another war. Another Korean
war would result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands
and political and economic destabilization throughout Asia,
thereby threatening U.S. security and economic interests.
Normalizing relations, on the other hand, would help create
a new and more open framework for dialogue and understanding
between the U.S. and North Korea, thereby significantly
enhancing international stability and U.S. security. The
path to normalization will not be easy, the scholarly alliance
warned, and will require real "give and take" negotiations
with North Korea. The United States must have the patience
and the will to work for peace and stability and take a
leading role in engaging North Korea.
ASCK will release a more detailed position statement on
June 25, the 53rd anniversary of the start of the Korean
War. That three-year-long war (1950-53) resulted in a ceasefire
but no peace treaty, and an ongoing U.S. military commitment
in the Korean peninsula. Some 37,000 U.S. troops are currently
stationed in South Korea.
ASCK Steering Committee members emerged from a daylong
meeting June 7 with a plan of action to educate policy makers,
political leaders and the public about North Korea and U.S.-North
Korea relations. Planned activities include publication
of analyses and policy recommendations, advertisements in
national publications, a day of teach-ins at universities
and colleges throughout the United States on Korea Peace
Day, November 6, and a day of visiting Capitol Hill.
Founded on March 29, 2003 at a meeting in New York, the
alliance now includes 60 scholars, primarily from the United
States, but also from Canada, the Netherlands, South Korea,
and New Zealand. According to the ASCK mission statement,
the members "believe that current problems on the Korean
peninsula and between the U.S. and the two Koreas, the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea, can
only be solved through dialogue, cooperation and the active
pursuit of peace. We feel the responsibility to speak out
against policies that increase tensions in Northeast Asia
and may lead to another catastrophic war in Korea. We wish
to add our voices to a constructive discussion on how to
achieve a peaceful, unified Korea existing in harmony with
its neighbors, including the United States."
Members of the alliance include top scholars in the field
of Korea Studies, such as Bruce Cumings, Carter Eckert,
James Palais, and David Steinberg. The 12 members of the
Steering Committee include experts on U.S.-Korea relations,
Korean history, and Korean politics. They bring decades
of expertise and experience to their analysis of the current
situation and the judgment that normalizing relations is
the only path to a peaceful resolution.
For the full text of the mission statement, links to reports
by alliance members, a history of the alliance, and other
information, please visit the ASCK
website at http://www.asck.org.
Professor Moon is available for interviews and can be reached
at 202-994-8854 until late August. Beginning in September
she can be reached at 781-283-2203.