The impact of changes in state identity on alliance cohesion in Northeast Asia
Moltz, James Clay
Knopf, Jeffrey W.
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This thesis addresses the importance of ideational determinants of cohesion or discord in the Northeast Asian alliances in which the United States has major security interests. Numerous studies have explored the rationale, substance and purpose of these alliances. However, previous studies have been dominated by realists and related balance of power/threat/self-interest approaches and do not provide a clear explanation for unexpected developments among existing alliances. In explaining recent changes within the alliances, relatively little attention has been given to alternative approaches, such as social constructivism. By applying social constructivist theory to the PRC-DPRK and U.S.-ROK alliances in a comparative study, this thesis finds that the increasing divergence of PRC and DPRK identity, values, perception of common interests, and security concerns has led to growing discord and mistrust in their alliance, while the increasing convergence of thinking and common values between Washington and Seoul has become a stronger foundation for their alliance. The thesis concludes with some theoretical and practical implications, as well as policy recommendations for enhancing alliance cohesion.
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