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North Korea and the World: Human Rights, Arms Control, and Strategies for Negotiation, Walter C. Clemens Jr.

Reviewed by Stephen Noerper



As international concerns over North Korea mount daily, one finds in this critical text an expansive, almost holistic, approach to dealing with a recalcitrant Pyongyang. Although Walter C. Clemens Jr. tackles the serious subjects of his subtitle—human rights, arms control, and negotiation strategy—he broaches many more and, fundamentally, the existential crisis of negotiating with evil. Sadly, the twentieth century posed the same dilemma—from the Nazis to the Balkans and then some. The question remains most pronounced today in dealing with North Korea, as the United States and the international community weigh actions against North Korea to curtail its rapid missile and nuclear development. Clemens, in the end, comes down on the side of the Churchillian adage that “meeting jaw to jaw is better than war.”

Clemens invokes the Soviet analysts of the Cold War, who struggled with the question of dialogue with what they saw as a menacing Moscow. Though the Soviet expanse (and arsenal) augured in different ways, this foundation is important for approaching a nuclearizing North Korea today. The state entity, as the author suggests, is essentially a Soviet and Stalinist derivative. Clemens does much more, though, striking at the roots of a Korean Peninsula that found its twentieth-century realities defined by colonialism, civil conflict, an

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