Can China lead the way in creating a viable peace in the Korean peninsula?

A long-term antidote to calm political tension and also reduce the risk of war breaking out on the Korean peninsula could be brought about by using the concept of strategic stability. Borrowing from Robert Ayson and Thomas Schelling, this kind of stability can be looked on as a situation where you have incentives on both sides to start a war or arms race is less in weight than that of the disincentives.

In order to bring about strategic stability, we must think of means to deter aggression without causing an arms race by threatening the rightful security interests of our adversaries. We should not think of ideas like that of the one thought of by General Curtis LeMay during the Cuban missile crisis. He was of the view that deterrence talks about the ability to achieve situations whereby the enemy cannot impose his will on you but rather you have the capacity to impose your will on your enemy.

The deterrence that made the U.S. force its will on its adversaries was a threat to the legitimate security concerns of the Soviet Union which sparked an arms race and an increased Soviet military power.

Strategic stability needs to have a difference between legitimate and illegitimate security concerns. It needs a structure where you have neither party being able to impose its will within the sovereign territory of others. If one is able to impose his will this way, the other will be more inclined to start an arms race rather than having the disincentives, case in point the 1962 Cuban crisis.

Strategic stability in these nuclear times is guaranteed by the shared ability to launch second strikes. Yet, if all nations possess second-strike capacities, you can have a rogue state using it to provoke aggression on another state. Also, you have accidental wars which can come on due to such situations. Furthermore, there exists the risk that a nuclear power state could use this military force to blackmail other powers who are non-nuclear. The need to prevent nuclear blackmail by North Korea is what has led some South Koreans to bring an argument for an independent or a shared nuclear capacity with the United States.

In order to create strategic stability on the Korean peninsula, there needs to be the creation of a situation where you have the North and South protected by a nuclear deterrence in such a fashion that it would not increase the likelihood of a military becoming trigger happy.

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