Nuclear Issue in the North Korea from the Eyes of Neorealism and Neoliberalism

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Nuclear issue in the North Korea has been a problem widely discussed around the world in recent years, while the whole progress from the start of the nuclear crisis (The withdrawal of the North Korea from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003) to the cooperation (Six Party Talks) and its failure is quite dramatic and worth exploring (Fang, 2009). This paper attempted to use two perspectives including neorealism and neoliberalism to look at the issue, and examine their explanatory power. Accordingly, this paper recognized the importance of the two perspectives in explaining the issue. On one hand, neorealism showed the restraints and balancing behaviors of the states during the process of negotiation, implying the failure of the talks. On the other hand, neoliberalism contributed to clarification of the complexity constituted by different actors and problems in the issue, while demonstrating the rationality of states, as well as the birth of the institution forming international norms. Therefore, the author believed the two perspectives are not contradictory, but complementary.
Analysis Framework
Neorealism-Structural Realism
What neorealism believes is fear and distrust originated from the anarchy of international system, resulting in the pursuit of power for survival. As stated by Mearsheimer (2010), power is the currency of international politics. The statement addressed a simple but important question: “why do states want power?” While “human nature” is always claimed by the classical realism, the neorealists, or the structural realists such as Mearsheimer specified the structure or architecture of the international system which forces states to pursue power. All states desire sufficient power to protect th...

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...issue. In this case, neoliberalism not only helps states to make a more rational decision, but also gives a birth of the institution forming the norms for the states’ solving crisis in the future. To conclude, both of them are important, while they are not contradictory, but complementary.

Baldwin, D. A. (1993). Neorealism and Neoliberalism. New York: Columbia University Press
Keohane, R. O. & Nye, J. S. (2000). Power and interdependence. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Mearsheimer J. J. (2010). Structural Realism. International Relations Thoeries, Discipline and Diversity (Second Edition), p.77-94
方玥雯[Fang Yue Wen] (2009). 北韓核武研發與東北亞安全:2002-2007. [The North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons and the Security in Northeast Asia: 2002-2007] in台灣[Taiwan]: 國立政治大學[National Cheungchi University] Retrieved 18 July, 2013 from
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