An Analysis of the
US Diplomacy in the Era of President
A Case Study of Chile and South
Thesis Advisor: Alexander
Writing this paper was a
significant experience for me in many aspects. I have learned the proper methods
that are to be taken in real comparative historical studies. Unlike the term
papers in ordinary history classes, this paper brought me one step closer to
actual university level studies.
This paper took seven months of
preparation. In the process, I have been advised and helped by many. Mr. Ganse,
my thesis advisor, has provided me with comprehensive knowledge on the subject,
eagerly trying to help me by the internet even during his vacation to
Germany. Mrs. Son, teaching both
States and Korean history, helped me narrow
down my once too wide topic. Mr. Oberdorfer an expert in modern Korean history,
and Mr. Landman, an established scholar in contemporary Latin American history,
have sent me crucial pieces of advice via e-mail. Finally, Mr. Williams, who had
worked for the United
States government in the era of Détente,
contributed to the overall logic of the paper. I would like to thank them all
with sincerity in this foreword.
This study has been my first
serious study on a specific subject. It may not be complete, but the lessons it
taught me will eventually complete me as a scholar. I have taken my first step
into the academic world.
The era of
Détente roughly refers to the period from the late 1960s to the end of the 1980s
in which the tension between the two ideological monoliths decreased
substantially. Spurred by the Nixon administration and its foreign policy
advisor, Kissinger, the Détente was preceded by the era of containment, whose
adamant diplomatic stance led the United States of America into the
puddle of the Vietnam War.
Eagerly trying to
pull the nation out of an inveterate problem, the Nixon administration pursued a
different style of diplomacy which considered the utmost priority in
international relations as national interest, not ideology. This new attempt
resulted in the triangular diplomacy between the US, the PRC (People¡¯s Republic
of China) and the
USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics), and it eventually led to several
landmarks in diplomatic history such as the SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation
Talks) and the Shanghai Communiqué. As a result, the frozen relationships
between the world¡¯s super powers were warmed up, at least formally. That is why
many tend to call this era or phenomenon as "Détente," which means relaxation in
Détente has not witnessed only relaxation. The warming up of relations between
the US and the PRC, represented by the Ping Pong Diplomacy, posed a considerable
threat to the North East Asian allies of the United States in terms of national
security and sovereignty. Moreover, the mitigation of the Brezhnev Doctrine in
the Détente expedited several direct, indirect interventions of the
United States on the
socialist regimes of Latin America.
The South Korean
people, witnessing the extrication of the US from Indochina, recognition of PRC as the
legitimate China, and the
coerced withdrawal of Taiwan from the United Nations, could
not wholly oppose the consolidation of power by their extreme rightist dictator,
Park, Chung Hee. This resulted in a major escalation of tension between the two
people, despite their long and proud democracy, were harassed of their national
sovereignty due to US intervention against the democratic socialist regime of
Salvador Allende and the rise of Augusto Pinochet in a CIA-backed coup d¡¯état.
Pinochet, an ultra rightist, sparked several baseless wars against the
neighboring countries of Latin America, and
brutally suppressed his people¡¯s human rights.
This paper delves
into the seemingly ironical aspects of the phenomenon that occurred in the
period of Détente. It furthermore discovers the real motivations behind the
world¡¯s super powers that were veiled behind the name of relaxation and
cooperation in order to answer those contradicting events in the two countries
discussed: South Korea and
Chile. The period of Détente,
therefore, is revisited in terms of its core properties.
II. The Diplomacy of the
States in the Time of Nixon¡¯s Detente
As the 1960s came
to its end, the age of the United States¡® clear domination of
the world was being challenged by a variety of factors. The US was no longer
the super power that could economically, politically, militarily deliver its
will unilaterally and deliberately to the world. The US entered the
"Age of Limits" in which the economy fluctuated heavily by the surging wave of
European and Japanese manufacturing industries, resulting in a comparative
decline in national growth. The country¡¯s nuclear arsenal was faced with
political disputes and Soviet threats, while the military in the turbulent war
in Vietnam were forced to be extricated
as soon as possible.
On the other
hand, the communist monoliths that had once possessed the resources and
cooperation to withstand the United States had slowly begun to
crack up internally. The Sino-Soviet Split, for example, had imposed
difficulties in maintaining a strict bipolarity in international politics at the
This mutual need
for escaping the stalemate status quo at the time resulted in the
US exploration into a unique
diplomatic trend; Détente, which had been a developing process in Europe. This trend has given birth to changes in the
political landscape of many countries during the 1970s.
2. The Nixon Doctrine: National Interest as the First
Having been inaugurated as the 37th
President of the United
States, Nixon rejected the containment approach
to foreign policy. Not surprisingly, the era of confrontation and containment
had begotten many problems such as the Cuban missile crisis and the Vietnam War.
As mentioned in the introduction, the United States was entering a general
downhill course in terms of its economy, military, and reputation as a world
police, compared to the immediate post war years. It was thought that the
US no longer could oppose every
communist revolution or movement. The US could no longer afford to charge against
domestic political protests and continue its fight against the Soviet Union. The glorious days of Kennedy in which the
US would "bear the burden of a long
twilight struggle" and face any obstacles in its way were fading away. The world
was changing according to the flow of time, and so needed the
States to change in order to avoid its slow
demise and again enjoy its prosperity. A reassessment of American foreign
policy, and a move to the era of negotiation was necessary.
Nixon needed to first extricate the
country¡¯s forces from Vietnam. Secondly, the country needed
to ease the overall tension in Berlin and the
Middle East. Thirdly, according to domestic
ideological demands, and due to the increasingly threatening possibility of a
surprise attack, nuclear arms controls had to be carried out. Removing these
problems would remedy the damage done in such a period. The problem was how. The
existent schools of diplomacy could not suggest a favorable method. Hence,
Nixon¡¯s foreign policy advisors decided not to stick on preceding principles or
theories, but adhere to only one basic priority National Interest.
This might seem a trivial thing to
many, but considering the Wilsonian tradition of American foreign policy, it was
indeed a remarkable thing to explicitly point out national interest as the
number one priority that could overrule other ideological convictions.
This intention is
well expressed in the Nixon Doctrine. This doctrine tried to adjust the degree
US intervention in various regions by
adopting three criteria in its diplomatic decisions.
States would keep its treaty
States would "provide a shield if a nuclear
power threatens the freedom of a nation allied with us or of a nation whose
survival we consider vital to our security"
involving non-nuclear aggression, the United States
would "look to the nation directly threatened to assume the primary
responsibility of providing the manpower for defense"
3. Linkage: the Means of Realizing the Nixon Doctrine
Linkage refers to the diplomatic
strategy the Nixon administration employed in realizing its seemingly unrelated
goals. In order to handle many problems in the most efficient manner, the Nixon
administration used one force to balance the other. That is, in solving the
problems in Vietnam, and in
arms limitation, the United
States invited both the PRC and the USSR. Tired of
the Sino-Soviet conflict that had ensued for years, and also worried that the
other side would gain higher grounds in terms of diplomatic, geopolitical
matters, the two communist giants both slowly turned cooperative to the
1) Opening of China (Ping Pong
The first step the
United States took was the
amelioration of relationships with China. A crack between the two
Communist powers seemed to widen, and Kissinger was keen enough to take
advantage of it. Resuming the Warsaw talks, Kissinger later made a secret
visit to the PRC in July 1971, and according to the agreements made in that
visit, President Nixon made an official visit in February 1972, signing the
Shanghai Communiqué. The two countries agreed upon the elimination of any
attempts to gain hegemony in Asia. This meant
that China would neither
interfere in Indochina nor the Korean peninsula, and the United States
would have to take commitments equivalent to such efforts. This agreement was
strengthened in February 1973 by expanding the sphere of interest from
Asia to the World.
2) Expediting Soviet Cooperation
As the PRC and
States exchanged friendly gestures, the Soviet
leadership had become more impatient about their isolation from the world.
Hence, in order to compete with their Chinese counterpart, the Soviets came more
cooperative to arms limitations negotiations as well as conflicts arising from
communist revolutions in many parts of the world. The Brezhnev doctrine, which
encouraged all workers in the world to go against the bourgeois society and
break into revolution, was thus reconsidered, and modified in favor of the
States. Overall, the negotiations with the
Soviets were extensively expedited.
4. Reading between the Lines of the Cold War
Thanks to the
Détente of the 1970s, the United States regained its diplomatic
initiatives in the world society to some extent. The diplomacy in the period of
Détente, many say, further contributed to the true relaxation of the Cold War
period. China started to open itself to the
world society by joining the United Nations, the second round of the Strategic
Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II) began, Willy Brandt¡¯s Ostpolitik came to
realization, and the super powers sent gestures of friendliness to each other.
cannot stand as wholly true since neither the Communist world nor the
States backed this effort to contribute to
world peace. This rather was a product of the world¡¯s biggest countries¡¯
struggle to defend their respective national interests.
interest was the driving force of the powers in the Cold War at that time, it is
important to examine regions in which Détente came as a destabilizing factor,
not a relaxing one. Contradicting, it could be found to the French meaning of
Détente, but by discussing two distinct regions in which both the Soviets and
the Americans had a certain amount of interest, this paper would like to justify
III. The Fall of Allende, an Elected
Socialist President in Chile
"The Other Side
of the Détente: Chile"
In November 3rd, 1970,
Salvador Allende was inaugurated as the first socialist President of Chile, much
to the US¡¯s discontent. Due to sabotage from
the CIA, Allende won his presidential elections only by a very narrow margin.
Originally having planned to be a physician, Allende received 36.3% of all
votes, but still had national support in many solutions to Chile¡¯s economic
1. Chile¡¯s Socialist Experiment Fails
Allende and his socialist
coalition party, Unidad Popular (UP), or Popular Union, were determined to
accomplish the socialist reforms they had planned for. This was intended to
develop the country¡¯s economy in an equitable way, thus saving the unprivileged
mass from poverty. Such reforms included the nationalization of the copper
mining industry and other private conglomerates and the acceleration of a
nationwide agrarian reform. These reforms were not executed under a
dictatorship, but were conducted in a fairly democratic way.
These series of experiments have,
however, proven unsuccessful, and the people of Chile started to
question the leadership of their president. Strikes and riots occurred
constantly. The western media was harshly critical on most of the government¡¯s
deeds. Developed countries became pessimistic on trading with
Chile, and much foreign investment
fled the country. Nose diving copper prices cut net exports, and the bad weather
exacerbated agricultural harvests. Finally, a Junta led by General Augusto
Pinochet mounted a military coup, and the majority of people, disgruntled of
their failing experiment, did not rise against the coup. Allende was ousted and
Pinochet was established as the dictator.
2. Cause: United States CIA¡¯s Constant Sabotage
Allende was not a corrupt man, the
UP was not ill minded or obsessed with self interest either. The plans the
Allende regime presented were feasible enough to be carried out. This seems to
contradict the tragic outcome of Chile¡¯s new experiment. This
phenomenon would be only explainable if there was a veiled force behind the
government¡¯s actions. In this case, the United States Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA) and other secret committees under direct control of President Nixon
played an active role of sabotaging Allende¡¯s government. Recently declassified
National Security Council records exhibit this fact with detail.
1) Economic, Diplomatic Pressure
wanted the Chilean "economy to scream," and therefore prove that socialism could
not work in the country. The Chilean economy was heavily dependent on
US influence. More than two thirds of
its economic aid came from the United States, while Anaconda and
Kennecott, which were US companies, owned seventy percent of the Chilean copper
industry. The Frei government, which preceded Allende¡¯s, had owed roughly one
billion dollars to US banks. By using this influence, and the covert operations
of the CIA, the Nixon administration became successful in orchestrating the
toppling Chile¡¯s socialist government.
The biggest problem the
Chilean copper industry faced after the UP government¡¯s nationalization was the
dramatic fall of the copper price. Some history books refer to this as simple
bad luck, but this was engineered by the Nixon administration. According to
National Security Decision Memorandum 93 (NSDM 93), a series of measures were
implemented in order to destabilize the socialist regime.
One of those measures was to dump much of the United States
copper stockpiles. This calculated disposal caused a steep fall of copper
prices, which struck the Chilean economy with great magnitude. Since the copper
industry earned nearly eighty percent of Chile¡¯s exports,
this manipulation was a big blow indeed.
The other problem was the
general shortage of virtually everything except the military. The military was
States provision, therefore did not suffer
much. However, the lack of spare parts in essential machinery, cars and trucks,
agricultural products, and the subsequent outflow of skilled personnel plunged
the economy into chaos. The States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental
Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, or the Church Committee, has
discovered that American ambassador Edward Korry made it clear that "Not a nut
or bolt [will] be allowed to reach Chile under Allende."
The United States made the
necessary arrangements in order to discredit Chile¡¯s economy
by an international method. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) was forced
by the rigid stance of the US to bar approval of Chilean
The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, or World Bank)
did not approve of any loans from 1971 to 1973 to Chile. The
considered twenty one million livestock-improvement credit and other loans had
Moreover, the Export-Import Bank and Agency for International Development (AID)
were given specific "classified instructions" by the NSC. The Export-Import Bank
was of crucial importance because the bank provided the loans for purchase of
physical capital needed in critical industries. The bank also graded the
credibility of economies, which was an important basis for private
US companies in trading with
Chile. Nevertheless, the
Export-Import Bank cut its loans and export guarantees, and lowered the
assessment of credibility of Chile from B to D. This nullified the
provision of a twenty one million dollar loan to the national airline of
Chile for upgrading its jets. Private
US companies did not wish to export
spare parts of crucial mechanical equipment and automobiles. International
lawsuits that were filed against the Allende government by outcasts from the
formerly private copper mines had also undermined the trustworthiness of the
Chilean economy in the world society. These series of actions all were
attributed to the covert works of US officials behind the scene, the Church
These movements by the Nixon
administration reflected its concern on protecting its interests in its private
companies like Ford in Chile,
and of course in the US dominant copper industry. By
applying pressure to the socialist economy, Nixon attempted and succeeded in
cancelling the nationalization reform of the UP government.
2) Propaganda and Covert Political Intervention
The United States
pressed Allende with considerable amount of external pressure, but that seemed
not enough for a climate suitable for a coup. There was already a failed project
named FUBELT. Also organized by the Nixon administration, this attempted to
defeat Allende in his 1970 elections by blackmailing and defamation campaign.
Feeling that the efforts put in on FUBELT were not enough, domestic disruption
was stressed more vigorously by the CIA in its "Covert Action Program for
*Political action to divide
and weaken the Allende coalition.
*Maintaining and enlarging
contacts in the Chilean military.
*Providing support to
non-Socialist opposition political groups and parties.
periodicals and using other media outlets in Chile which can
speak out against the Allende government.
*using selected media outlets
[in Latin America, Europe, and elsewhere] to play up
Allende¡¯s subversion of the democratic
process and involvement by Cuba and the Soviet union in Chile
Introduced by the CIA Western
Hemisphere chief, William Broe, the Action program requested for a seven million
dollar budget. This enormous amount of money was used between 1970 and 1973; 3.5
million of it was used to support opposition parties, 2 million of it was used
in propaganda programs which featured the media both domestic and foreign, and
the 1.5million of it was used to encourage labor organizations to mount riots
The Christian Democratic
Party (PDC) was the leading opposition party against Allende. The Church report
claims that the party was actively financed and provided with intelligence.
Backed heavily by the CIA, the PDC could now mount demonstrations and
advertisements that condemned the socialist reforms. One of those condemnations
was that the UP¡¯s policies were notoriously incongruent with Catholic
principles. On an education reform that attempted to give equal opportunity,
they went on asserting that the UP attempted to destroy the Catholic virtues.
Chilean women, who were exceptionally devout Catholics, were easily convinced.
The CIA deployed its personnel to perform illegal spy activities in UP election
offices. Officials were often bribed to be incompetent, and the extremist groups
such as Movimiento Izquierdista Revolucionario (MIR) were angry at the moderate
stance the UP government took in dealing with opposition. Chile was a
functioning democracy, and therefore Allende could not repress the opposition
powers effectively with force. Also, powerful labor organizations were bribed to
engage in strikes. Food rations were given out to workers during strikes by the
US "advisors." Much of the
transportation and overall logistics was constantly under threat by such
protests. For instance, the 1973 strike of the Truckers organization almost
paralyzed the whole country, and gave a big impression of government
mismanagement in the economy. Overall, the political opposition groups against
Allende were being extensively promoted by the CIA.
The CIA had controlled much of the
foreign media as well as Chile¡¯s domestic press. The agency
actively briefed to the foreign news media on the inefficiency of the socialist
policies and the economic, social suffering that plagued the country. There were
numerous covert operations that took in Chile as well. Most influential of
those was the El Mercurio project. The CIA financed El Mercurio, one of the
staunchest right wing newspapers in Chile, from the 1960s. As a socialist
became the president of the country, support for the newspaper increased
dramatically. The routes of financial support ranged from direct cash deposits
to indirect financial support via the International Telephone and Telegraph
Corporation (ITT), a prominent US company. The paper was full of
acrimonious editorials and baseless allegations against the government, but the
belligerent voice of the newspaper was augmented enough by foreign support to
influence the whole nation. Alarmed, President Allende criticized El Mercurio,
but the CIA "orchestrated cables of support and protest from foreign newspapers,
a protest statement from an international press association, and world press
coverage of the association¡¯s protest," according to the Church Report. Hence,
the atmosphere fit for a coup was almost set by 1973.
All of this contributed to
criticisms on the ambitious reforms the UP government had initially proposed.
Not to mention the unexpected strikes that occurred in the course of
nationalizing key industries, the UP was faced with problems in its extensive
The Socialist experiment of
Salvador Allende failed as General Augusto Pinochet, assisted covertly by the
CIA, mounted a coup on September 11, 1973. Since the only US aid that did
not cease but increased was the one on the military, the junta was relatively
successful in taking the presidential palace as well as the whole country.
Ironically, this happened in the era of Détente, or more elaborated, the ¡®era of
3. In the Chilean Case, the Time of Détente did not
The economic, diplomatic,
propagandistic, and military pressure the United States
put on the Allende regime was not of ordinary magnitude. Only is this overthrow
of a democratically elected government understandable if we take the
States¡¯ role into consideration. This buildup
of tension may sound contradictory to the depiction of the Détente as the period
of reconciliation and compromise. The intention of the Détente was advertised as
the step towards peace and coexistence. The Ping Pong diplomacy, extrication
from Vietnam, and SALT II all supported
such justifications. However, the covert operations that led a democratic
country into turmoil and dictatorship we have dealt with in this chapter clearly
states that national interest was the first priority for the Nixon
administration, not peace or reconciliation. This stance was acknowledgeable in
the annual presidential foreign policy report to the congress from 1970 to 1973.
However, the media did not expect any nation to fall into prey by these new
criteria. National interests seemed no more than a justification to open up
China and bring the Soviets to the
negotiation table, not sabotage and overthrow a socialist nation.
Nixon and Kissinger were
determined to defend their country¡¯s interest in Latin
America, as did their predecessors. They did not want another Cuban
revolution to succeed. As stated in the first chapter, the geopolitics in the
Northeast Asian region let the Brezhnev doctrine of the Soviets to be modified.
This let Nixon go adamant on Allende without having the Soviets in grave
concern. So, ¡®linkage¡¯ had taken place according to national interest, which is
obviously no deviation from the Détente policy. Chile was not an exception from the foreign
policy of the United
States in the Détente. It was the veiled
essence of it.
It is arguable that a
differentiation should be made between the US interventionism from Détente, since
inconsistencies in foreign policy was commonplace in the United States.
This leads to the assertion that studying Chile¡¯s case in
terms of the Détente is unreasonable. Nevertheless, this, quite paradoxically,
is the very reason we should delve into this subject. This paper, dealing the
US foreign policies in the period of
the Détente, does not focus on the specific policies concerning the Détente
only. Therefore, the Chilean case is worthwhile dealing since it reveals what
the true force that moved US diplomacy, and how such a force
limited the Détente¡¯s application.
IV. The Yushin Order by Park, Chung
Hee in South
Guest to the Détente: South
In October 10th, 1972,
President Park, Chung Hee of South Korea
declared the Yushin Order, or the ¡®revitalization restoration¡¯, as his spokesman
described it. The original constitution of the Third Republic (the constitution before the
Yushin) and the National Assembly, which was the legislative branch, were
dissolved. Instead, the Yushin constitution and the National Convention for
Unification (NCU) were established. This changed the presidential elections into
an indirect system in which NCU members, 2359 representatives of the nation,
elected the President in the Jang-Chung gymnasium in Seoul. A considerable
portion of those representatives were ¡®recommended¡¯ by the President, and along
with the extended six-year term, Park planned for his life long presidency.
However, opposed by violent protests, he resorted to harsh measures, and the
consolidation of the nation as a whole was undermined. Eventually, Park was
assassinated by the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) director Kim,
Jae-Kyu in October 26th, 1979. The Yushin Order, whatsoever, lasted another ten
years under President Chun, Doo-Hwan.
1. The Yushin Order
1) Indirect Election System
The NCU was a means to
silence opposition parties and perpetuate Park¡¯s regime. Challenged in his third
reelection by Kim, Dae-Jung, Park beat Kim with a very narrow difference of a
few hundred thousand votes. Also, given the social incongruity that derived from
the massive economic growth and disparate distribution of wealth, the fourth
democratic election of Park seemed uncertain. Therefore, in order to extend his
reign, Park had to resort to an authoritative measure, and that was the Yushin.
The authority of the
administration soon surpassed that of the legislative and judicial branch. One
third of the representatives in the legislative branch were to be practically
appointed by the President, and all judicial offices, including the Chief
Justice, were nominated by the President. The assessment of the appropriateness
of this is contested, but the fact that this concentrated most of the
government¡¯s power to the President, and that direct democracy was infringed is
2) The Intensified Suppression of the Media and Civil
The Yushin had infringed much
of the fundamental rights of the public. Detention and torture by the KCIA
became commonplace, and manipulations in trials were virtually unmonitored by
any substantial authority. The KCIA, the Army Security Command, and the
president¡¯s bodyguards have mainly conducted this illegal suppression of
expressed free will. Chang, Chun Ha, a prominent nationalist, and a staunch
opposition figure to the Yushin, stated that he was "seized on his way downtown
and taken to a KCIA jail for a week of nearly continuous interrogation, in an
unsuccessful effort to persuade him to endorse Park¡¯s marital law reforms." The
KCIA interrogation cells had committed various human rights violations including
the "Korean barbecue" in which the victims were "strung up by their wrists and
ankles and spread-eagled over a flame." Protests, of course, were widespread in
universities and other liberal organizations; however, such fervor was kept down
by the rigid suppression of the police and frequent "emergency measures" that
installed martial law to the country.
Press censorship became more
strict and widespread. Books that were believed to contain "inappropriate"
material for the regime were banned. Most liberal newspapers had been closed or
were stripped of their articles. The media was forced to always praise the deeds
of the administration.
3) Arms Buildup, Seek for Military Technology
Independent national defense
became a priority. The Republic of Korea (ROK), under such a strong leadership,
was able to double its defense expenditures for several years in the 1970s. The
Yulgok Project, a series of policies aimed for the independent defense system
and local production of weapons, was legislated and executed.
Park also concentrated on the advance of independent defense technology. The
National Defense and Science Institute was funded heavily by the government. In
1973, Park called ethnic Korean scientists and specialists residing abroad into
the country in order to realize his development plans. This effort produced an
armament race between the two Koreas.
4) Exertion for the South Korean Nuclear Weapons
Starting from 1972, Park
started a secret development plan for a South Korean nuclear weapons program.
The president worked with France in order to facilitate his
operation. By 1974, the Korean-French collaboration produced the technical
design of a plant to manufacture about twenty kilograms of fissionable plutonium
per year, enough for two nuclear weapons with the explosive power of the atomic
bomb that the United States
dropped on Hiroshima. US intelligence
was concerned of such endeavors, and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
acknowledged the gravity of the issue. In a secret cable to the US embassy in
Korea, Kissinger pointed out that the nuclear capabilities of the South Koreans
would bring a "major destabilizing effect in an area which not only Japan but
USSR, PRC and ourselves (United States) are directly involved." After some time
passed for assuring the necessary evidence, ambassador Sneider was instructed to
object to the ROK government in July of 1975.
Negotiations continued, and as a result, despite the efforts put in by the Park
administration, the South Korean nuclear weapons program was neutralized by the
2. The Justification to Yushin- the Distrust towards
The reason why Park enforced
the Yushin is a subject of dispute. The justification Park made was that the international
diplomatic situation was turning hostile to ROK, and that the North Koreans were
constantly planning on an invasion. The criticism some scholars make is that
Park simply used this as an excuse in order to realize his ambition of life-long
dictatorship. Although it is questionable to indicate the sole cause of Yushin
as diplomatic, and despite that it could even be possible that the threat of
Détente was not that considerable at all, it is justifiable that the Détente did
play a role in actual South Korean politics. Regardless of the real seriousness,
Park used this as his propaganda. Therefore, it is appropriate to acknowledge
the intimidating characteristic of the Ping Pong diplomacy, or the US-China
1) Nixon Doctrine and the Shanghai Communiqué
The Nixon Doctrine was
principally aimed at two regions: Vietnam and Korea. The
States wanted to step out of both scenes by
blurring its support "in cases involving non-nuclear aggression." Ho Chi Minh
and Kim Il Sung did not posses nuclear weapons, and therefore the Nixon doctrine
claimed the military support in these areas as not imperative. The only
difference between the two was the magnitude of withdrawal. In
Vietnam, this was executed quite
thoroughly, while in ROK, only a part of the armed forces were withdrawn.
Along with this move, the
overall tension in East Asia was to be relieved
by the agreements made in the Shanghai Communiqué, which was done as a part of
Nixon¡¯s ¡®linkage¡¯ strategy. According to the communiqué, the two countries would
not attempt to seek hegemony in Asia, and would
repel any attempts by another power to do so. China¡¯s implementation of this proclamation was
done by facilitating US negotiation with the North
Vietnamese, and cutting down military, diplomatic support to the North Koreans.
The US responded by extricating their
forces from its turbulent areas. In addition to this, Nixon accepted the ¡®One
China¡¯ theory of the PRC, and thus supported the PRC to join the United Nations.
This resulted in the coerced withdrawal of Taiwan, or
The number of ROK armed
forces dispatched to Vietnam,
roughly 320,000, was only second to the United States. South Korea received considerable economic aid
from the US in exchange of its participation
in the war, but financial factors did not count for the entire reason Park
wanted to sacrifice the lives of Korean soldiers in foreign soil. The other
reason was the ideological one. The violent struggle against communism the South
Vietnamese were engaged in made the South Koreans feel empathy about the issue.
Therefore, saving Vietnam from the scourge of war and
driving out the influence of communism may have been viewed as an indispensable
duty to the South Koreans. This kind of analogy was similarly applied to
Taiwan, whose people were facing
their ponderous communist foe as well. The subsequent fall of the anti communist
forces in East Asia slowly came as a diplomatic
pressure to the ROK.
2) Lack of Reassurance from the United States
In the process of this
turbulent diplomatic situation, Park wanted a reassurance of the ROK-US
alliance. He wanted the United States to continuously provide
the necessary military assistance that was taking place in ROK since the Korean
War. However, several sources informed Park of Nixon¡¯s orders in November of 1969 to
Kissinger to draft a plan to reduce half of the army in ROK. Since the
proclamation of the Nixon doctrine, the ROK government was constantly informally
briefed of this kind of movement in US foreign policy. In March of 1970,
the Nixon administration devised a plan to remove one division of the
US army from ROK, instructing
Ambassador William Porter to negotiate with the Park administration. This was
made public in 9th of July, and South Korea requested for the
modernization of 16 ROK divisions in return. Furthermore, it requested that the
United States modernize South Korean armaments and continue a prolonged military
The two sides negotiated on
the issue and reached an agreement in February 6th, 1971, that consisted of the
withdrawal of the US 7th division, the five-year plan of the modernization of
the ROK armed forces, and a 1.5 billion dollar military assistance.
This agreement, however, was
hindered by the US congress defense budget
curtailment. Moreover, the fact that China requested the complete removal
of US forces from the Korean peninsula in a secret meeting intimidated the Park
administration. The ROK government demanded the US for a
thorough security assurance and a stable alliance, but Nixon was not prepared to
match such requirements.
Therefore, Park reported such
changes to his people. He furthermore used this as the justification for the
Yushin. Critics of Park say that he used this as a mere excuse, but that still
does not releases the United
States from the responsibility of providing the
cause for such an excuse. Perhaps by exaggerating the threat from the North, and
by again overly emphasizing the unfriendly diplomatic situation at the time,
Park may have overreacted to the Détente. On the other hand, the international
breeze of Détente that undermined the alliance with its biggest supporter, along
with the relatively inferior defense capabilities of the ROK military compared
to that of the North, was sufficient to be a significant threat. In any case, it
is irrefutable that the Détente has played a considerable role in the
establishment and justification of the Yushin.
3. In the South Korean case, the Period of Détente
did not Imply ¡®Relaxation¡¯
The series of actions the
Park administration exhibited in the 1970s was discordant with the relaxation
that was going on by the United States and the PRC. Commonly
referred to as the Ping Pong diplomacy, the opening of China and the
compromise between the two powers seemed to lessen the tension in both the South
and North Asian regions. Nonetheless, this was not the case in the Korean
peninsula. The barely surviving system of democracy was finally toppled, and
dictatorship was installed. Domestically, press censorships were strengthened,
and violence in controlling opposition leaders and student protests became far
severe. Diplomatically, the country advocated its self-reliant defense system
and engaged in an arms race with North
Korea (the Democratic People¡¯s Republic of Korea). Development of a nuclear weapons
program caused discomfort with its supposedly most intimate ally, the
States. Détente, again, did not come as a
relieving factor, but a destabilizing one.
1. Limits of the Détente
This paper has so far focused
on the effect of the Détente policy of the United
States on Chile and South Korea. It
has proved that the foreign policies of the Détente were not entirely policies
of relaxation. Rather, these quite sudden changes were strictly about national
interest, and therefore, were limited to cases in which US interest was
Nixon and Kissinger, fairly
better in their diplomatic skills compared to their predecessors of the
Containment, noticed that diplomatic idealism that led the nation through the
World Wars and through the ¡®era of confrontation¡¯ was no longer favorable for
the good of their country at that time. Such idealism fostered unnecessary arms
competition, chained the country with the fetters of the Vietnam War, and risked
the lives of many Americans. Protests became common in universities, and the
public urged for a reconsideration of the diplomatic position their country
Nixon was there to guide the
country to discard idealism and to focus on realism. This made it possible for
opening and dialogues with their vowed communist foes, and by the Linkage, this
has contributed to a substantial stability within the Cold War.
On the other hand, diplomatic
realism also enabled the US to withdraw its influence from
ROK, creating uneasiness in the Korean peninsula. This also led the
US take advantage of the
mitigated Brezhnev Doctrine and to expand its influence in Chile, also
creating suffering. That could be very well pointed out as the limitations of
Enlightening us with an
insight of the real mechanism of diplomacy in the period of Détente, these
veiled facts are fairly more revealing than the common textbook description of
the Détente. Of course, it is impossible to be absolute or complete in dealing
with history. Nevertheless, it is our duty as contemporary world citizens to
acknowledge how the forces of the past have shaped our society as present. This
paper has done its best to widen such perspectives.
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