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By Jae-Jung Suh

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Pyongyang, reflecting its weakening material position, started indicating its desires to engage its former adversaries and to seek peaceful coexistence. But, guided by the Cold War conception that peace offers from Pyongyang always concealed an ulterior motive, the alliance ignored or dismissed them. Within the frame of mind inherited from Cold War days, it seemed only natural to maintain a deterrent posture. What the allies thought of as a deterrent posture, however, was perceived as a threatening posture by Pyongyang, which interpreted the world through its own Manichaean lens.

It had shifted a majority of its ground and air 32 Power, Interest, and Identity in Military Alliances forces closer to the DMZ, concentrating over 65 percent of its army within 100 km of the DMZ. The heavily armored, highly mobile, and forward-deployed forces were optimally configured for a blitzkrieg. They would be much less effective in an attrition war. Given the nature of the threat, it is not unreasonable to assume that South Korea’s strategic objective was to maintain a capability sufficient to stop a North Korean blitzkrieg.

At a hypothetical time (T1) after states are joined in an alliance, they develop asset specificities as they carry out the terms and obligations of the alliance. 2 Causal Arrows of the Institutionalization Theory of Alliance Persistence. On a discursive level, or on the level of social identity, the alliance relations produce social practices and representations about security and threat that help shape the allies’ state identities in the issue area of national security. At a later time (T2) the asset specificities privilege the alliance by creating a cost barrier to alliance termination/replacement and by generating a domestic constituency that advocates alliance maintenance.

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