Theoretical Approaches to Alliance: Implications on the R.O.K.-U.S. Alliance

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Chun, Chae-Sung
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서울대학교 국제학연구소
Journal of International and Area Studies, Vol.7 No.2, pp. 71-88
The R.O.K.-US. alliance since its conclusion in 1953 has undergone profound changes from the 1980s. At the global and regional level, we have witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union, military dominance of the United States at the global level, establishment of diplomatic and economic relationship among South Korea, Russia, and China. With the transformation of the bipolar structure, the need to contain the former communist threat lessened as well as in need for the R.O.K-U.S. alliance. In inter-Korean relations, notable changes have taken place. In the 1990s, we witnessed the establishment of the Agreement on Reconciliation, Nonaggression, and Exchanges and Cooperation between South and North Korea (1991), North Korean withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, and the historic Summit Meeting of June, 2000. The joint Declaration after the Summit and subsequent changes especially ignited sharp debates concerning various security issues such as the conceptualization of "main enemy," the possibility of future inter-Korean war, the fundamental need and the size of us military presence, and the need to maintain R.O.K -U.S. joint military training, for example.

Considering the fundamental changes that the R.O.K-U.S. alliance confronts now, it is important to think about the continuity and change of the alliance. It is true that most of the research on the R.O.K -U.S. alliance has focused on the historical development and the changing environments regarding the alliance. The R.O.K-U.S. alliance received only scant attention by alliance theorists, missing many promising analyses and predictions. Considering the merits of theoretical approaches that clarify various aspects of alliances, provide comparative perspectives, and suggest possible solutions to different problems, the current situation is not satisfactory.

This article attempts to fill the gap by reviewing major alliance theories and to conceive of the R.O.K-U.S. alliance from a theoretical perspective. It deals with major issues in alliance such as the concept, function, merits and costs of alliance, balancing vs. bandwagoning behavior in alliance formation, the effect of overall international systemic structure, identity issue, security vs. autonomy trade-offs, and problems arising from the alliance maintenance such as the dilemma of entrapment/abandonment and burden sharing. With this conceptual and theoretical frameworks, this article deals with the various aspects of the R.O.K-U.S. alliance and attempts to find out major issues of the alliance. This might give us new insights on past, present, and future aspects of the alliance, especially ones that can be contrasted with the more prevalent historical approach.
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Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원)Dept. of International Studies (국제학과)Journal of International and Area StudiesJournal of International and Area Studies vol.07 (2000)
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