Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
The story deftly told in this weighty but engaging book may seem unfamiliar, says the author, because "key parts...never appeared in the news." Sigal (Fighting to a Finish, LJ 6/15/88) drew up the New York Times editorials about Korea under Presidents Bush and Clinton and accordingly thought he knew what had happened. Nevertheless, he discovered the inside story only when he visited major players and reviewed key documents (many reproduced here) for this book. Realpolitik policies of unilateral coercion failed, argues Sigal, partly because of South Korea's intransigence and U.S. intelligence snafus. Negotiations led by Jimmy Carter, however, went from the brink of war in 1994 to "open covenants, privately arrived at." Sigal offers disturbing and enlightening insights into the reasons why news coverage left this critical story untold, how "cooperating with strangers" replaced coercion in "getting to yes," and the significance of this liberal challenge to "realism" in dealing with nuclear crisis. Recommended for all public affairs and international relations collections.Charles Hayford, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This is an excellent case study of the US response to North Korea's potential nuclear weapons program and a more general argument that post-Cold War foreign policy still favors coercion over safer, cheaper, and more effective forms of cooperative threat reduction. Sigal (Social Science Research Council, Columbia University) argues that the Bush and early Clinton administration's "crime and punishment" approach reflected flawed assumptions about North Korean nuclear proliferation that were reinforced by numerous domestic factors, the organizational interests of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and key allies such as South Korea. Far from bringing the North Koreans to the negotiating table, threats of economic sanctions or military action backfired by obscuring North Korea's willingness to reciprocate cooperation and by nearly causing an inadvertent war. Sigal demonstrates how Jimmy Carter's Track II diplomatic initiative averted disaster by adopting a diplomatic a give-and-take negotiating style attuned to Kim Il Sung's tit-for-tat strategy and altering some of the most countercooperative aspects of the American policy-making process. This book is highly recommended for its detailed evidence that cooperative diplomacy can work and should be tried more frequently, as well as for Sigal's valuable insights about the influence that journalists, academics, bureaucrats, and think tanks can have--for better or for worse--on the policy-making process. General readers, upper-division undergraduates, and above. N. W. Gallagher; Wesleyan University
Author notes provided by Syndetics
Leon V. Sigal is a consultant at the Social Science Research Council in New York and Adjunct Professor in the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University. A former member of The New York Times editorial board, he is also the author of Fighting to a Finish: The Politics of War Termination in the United States and Japan, 1945 .