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North Korea and the Science of Provocation: Fifty Years of Conflict-making

by Robert Daniel Wallace

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1251,396,463 (3.5)None
Why does North Korea routinely turn to provocation to achieve foreign policy goals? Are the actions of the volatile Kim regime predictable, based on logical responses to the conditions faced by North Korea? This book, an examination of the "Hermit Kingdom" over the past 50 years, explains why the Democratic People's Republic of Korea uses hostility and coercion as instruments of foreign policy. Using three case studies and quantitative analysis of more than 2,000 conflict events, the author explores the relationship between North Korea's societal conditions and its propensity for external conflict. These findings are considered in light of diversionary theory, the idea that leaders use external conflict to divert attention from domestic affairs. Analyzing the actions of an isolated state such as North Korea provides a template for conflict scholarship in general.… (more)
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Showing 5 of 5
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I am sure for political scientists this is an interesting book, but it was so far over my head I could barely grasp for it.
He condenses many studies to figure out the relationships between North Korea's hostile actions and other variables.
I don't have a working knowledge on Korean history, like none at all. I thought upon seeing the title that this would be a primer to teach me about the "Fifty Years of Conflict-Making" in a more general historical overview sense. Instead Wallace assumes a certain level of knowledge on the subject and launches forward from there.
I did learn some things from his book, but overall it was far too advanced for me. ( )
  clarkcrossing | Feb 2, 2021 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Clear. Concise. Well-written. Dense. These are the four things that come to mind when describing Robert Daniel Wallace's "North Korea and the Science of Provocation." This book is not meant for the casual reader. It is an academic study of North Korea's foreign policy, with an eye towards analyzing hostile foreign policy actions under Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il, and during the transition from Kim Jong-Il to Kim Jong-Un.

This book reads - and is structured like - a doctoral dissertation. That's not a bad thing. It gives just enough background to understand the author's arguments, without relying on the reader being an expert in foreign policy or the DPRK (a good thing, because I am neither). Dr. Wallace is highly informative, and is obviously well-versed on the DPRK's policy action (the the extent anyone outside North Korea can be). North Korea and the Science of Provocation is well worth the read if you are a policy buff. Just don't expect a light romp (if such a thing exists) through the history of the DPRK's foreign policy when you pick it up. ( )
  DoctorDebt | Feb 20, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book is not for your easing reading history buff. This is a study in format that contains a lot of facts. For anyone familiar with the Korean Peninsula and is very interested in the historical political environment of North Korea then this book is for you.
  gslim96 | Aug 12, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This excellent book examines the structure of and likely factors causing North Korea's hostile foreign policy actions, from invective to nuclear weapons tests. Wallace has done a lot of research and his basic assumption is that the North Korean leadership is rational (a position I have long espoused) and has discoverable and understandable reasons for its actions. His quantitative research reveals that some of the most common presumed causes of provocations have less influence than is commonly assumed. Overall an excellent book, which is not for the casual reader since Wallace writes in a scholarly style about a subject of interest to perhaps a thousand people in North America. I particularly wish more policy makers would read his book. ( )
  nmele | Jul 9, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Why does North Korea act so belligerently in international relations? Robert Daniel Wallace, writing in a very academic approach attempts to answer this question through a qualitative analysis of several case studies and a quantitative analysis and claims he has found a “statistically significant” relationship in how the “Hermit Kingdom” increases international conflict when faced with decreases in political and social stability. I am suspect of these relationships, particularly in attempting to argue for a predictive model of North Korean foreign policy. North Korea is a closed society and researchers have limited access to information. While the author has identified any number of variables I’m not sure they take into account how unpredictable the predictability of North Korean leadership. Although authority has been kept in the family for three generations, the Kim’s seem intent on provoking the West on a whim. They are very reactive when they perceive threatening actions by the U.S. and South Korean military. While Wallace provides a lot of data, the story might have been better told as a simple review of North Korean foreign policy rather than as an academic assignment. The argument that such leaders use “diversionary theory” to divert attention seems to me to be a pragmatic response. While it is serious that North Korean has nuclear capability, the West might be better off not reacting to every missile launch or hostile action taken against South Korea. I understand these threats are hard to ignore, but North Korea cannot legitimately be called a serious threat. ( )
  sherman1951 | Jun 25, 2016 |
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Why does North Korea routinely turn to provocation to achieve foreign policy goals? Are the actions of the volatile Kim regime predictable, based on logical responses to the conditions faced by North Korea? This book, an examination of the "Hermit Kingdom" over the past 50 years, explains why the Democratic People's Republic of Korea uses hostility and coercion as instruments of foreign policy. Using three case studies and quantitative analysis of more than 2,000 conflict events, the author explores the relationship between North Korea's societal conditions and its propensity for external conflict. These findings are considered in light of diversionary theory, the idea that leaders use external conflict to divert attention from domestic affairs. Analyzing the actions of an isolated state such as North Korea provides a template for conflict scholarship in general.

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