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Immovable Object: North Korea's 70 Years At War with American Power

Immovable Object: North Korea's 70 Years At War with American Power

by A. B. Abrams
Immovable Object: North Korea's 70 Years At War with American Power

Immovable Object: North Korea's 70 Years At War with American Power

by A. B. Abrams




North Korea and the United States have been officially at war for over 70 years, one of the longest lasting and most unbalanced conflicts in world history, in which a small East Asian state has held its own against a Western superpower for over three generations. With the Western world increasingly pivoting its attention towards Northeast Asia, and the region likely to play a more central role in the global economy, North Korea's importance as a strategically located country, potential economic powerhouse and major opponent of Western regional hegemony will only grow over the coming decades. This work is the first fully comprehensive study of the ongoing war between the two parties, and covers the history of the conflict from the first American clashes with Korea's nationalist movement in 1945 and imposition of its military rule over southern Korea to North Korea's nuclear deterrence program and ongoing tensions with the U.S. today. The nature of the antagonism between the two states, one profoundly influenced by both decolonisation and wartime memory, and the other uncompromising in its attempts to globally impose its leadership and ideology, is covered in detail.

Northern Korea is one of very few inhabited parts of the world never to have been placed under Western rule, and its fiercely nationalist identity as a deeply Confucian civilisation state has made it considerably more difficult to tackle than almost any other American adversary. This work elucidates the conflicting ideologies and the discordant designs for the Korean nation which have fuelled the war, and explores emerging fields of conflict which have become increasingly central in recent years such as economic and information warfare. Prevailing trends in the conflict and its global implications, including the multiple wars that have been waged by proxy, are also examined in detail. An in-depth assessment of the past provides context key to understanding the future trajectories this relationship could take, and how a continuing shift in global order away from Western unipolarity is likely to influence its future.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781949762303
Publisher: Clarity Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 12/01/2020
Pages: 665
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 2.00(d)

About the Author

A. B. Abrams is the author of Power and Primacy: A History of Western Intervention in the Asia-Pacific. He has published widely on defense and politics and is proficient in Chinese, Korean and other East Asian languages. He has completed Masters degrees in related subjects at the University of London. Abrams has spent much time in North Korea, studied the Korean language at university in Pyongyang, and has many contacts with Koreans inside the DPRK and overseas. This has allowed him to form a deeper understanding of the country's society, ideology and culture.

Read an Excerpt

The year 2020 marks the 70th year of an ongoing war between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK – otherwise known as North Korea) and the United States of America, which from its outset in June 1950 saw three years of open hostilities and has continued under a fragile armistice for 67 years since. This conflict representsis the longest conflict between any two modern industrial nations in history, and by far the longest war in U.S. history – beginning just months after the outbreak of the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the formation of the People's Republic of China and continuing long after hostilities with both these larger states subsided. The U.S. has since 1950 waged well over a dozen other hot wars from Panama and Grenada to Iraq and Somalia, all of which were very distinct in their nature from that which took place in Korea and could be concluded far more quickly.

The open hostilities between North Korea and the United States from 1950 to 1953 represents the only major conventional ground war waged between Western and East Asian powers since the mid-19th Century. To a greater extent than any other Cold War conflict, its legacy continues to have reverberations far across the entire Asia-Pacific region and the wider world. A unique aspect of the U.S.-North Korean conflict from its outset has been its comprehensive nature – and the considerable ideological and cultural disparity between the two actors. The northern half of Korea is one of very few inhabited parts of the world never to have been placed under Western rule, and has evolved to present one of the most consistent challenges to the Western dominated order not only politically and militarily but also ideologically. The identity of the Korean state north of the 38th parallel and its deep cultural and ideological roots – Confucian, socialist and otherwise – means it represents an entirely unique form of adversary for America which has proven considerably more difficult to tackle than almost any other. While conflict has been continuous over seven decades, the way it has been waged has changed considerably over time – from open warfare in the early 1950s to low level provocations and brinkmanship the following decade and with a greater focus on economic and information warfare today. This work will attempt to comprehensively explore the nature of conflict between the United States and the DPRK, the way it has been waged and evolved over seven decades, and the intentions of both.

Table of Contents

Abbreviations vii

Terms ix

Introduction 1

Part 2 The Korean War

Ch. 1 The Beginning 7

Ch. 2 Strategic Implications of the Korean War's Outbreak 41

Ch. 3 The Korean War 65

Ch. 4 The Battlefield Moves to North Korea-And China 94

Ch. 5 Absolute Destruction: The Ravaging of North Korea 120

Ch. 6 As if All Koreans Were the Enemy: American Wartime Conduct Towards South Korean Civilians 151

Ch. 7 An Indelible Impression: Western Conduct Towards North Korean Civilians and Prisoners of War 174

Ch. 8 Ending the War: Maximum Pressure and a Hard Lesson on American Power 206

Part 2 The Cold War Years

Ch. 9 War in Peacetime: Ongoing Conflict After the Korean War Armistice 239

Ch. 10 Proxy Wars: How North Korea and America Wage War Through Third Parties 275

Ch. 11 The U.S. Military in South Korea 309

Part 3 State Survival in the Unipolar Era

Ch. 12 The 1990s: An Arduous March and a New World Order 345

Ch. 13 The 21st Century and Renewed "Maximum Pressure" 380

Ch. 14 Introducing Mutual Vulnerability: Implications of North Korea Attaining a Nuclear-Tipped ICBM 424

Ch. 15 2017-Donald Trump and the Brink of Crisis 447

Ch. 16 North Korea Wins? 472

Ch. 17 The Art of the Deal 507

Part 4 New Battlefronts and the Evolving Nature of Conflict

Ch. 18 A Clash of Ideologies: The Resilience of North Korea 541

Ch. 19 Information War: The Final Frontier 570

Ch. 20 Economic Warfare 612

Appendices: Major Incidents in the 2010s

Appendix I The Kim Jong Nam Assassination 645

Appendix II Death of an American Student 648

Appendix III Storming the North Korean Embassy 652

Index 656

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