tv Book TV After Words CSPAN July 29, 2013 12:00am-1:01am EDT
the korean war on asian history and world history and on the come -- contemporary positions of the mainact ors. how did you decide to write other book on the korean war? >> guest: well in 2007 i was asked whether i might consider writing a project on the war, and at the time i was working on policy issues at the u.s. army world college, and i thought that it was a worthy project because i interested in contemporary korean issues issue thought a book about -- of course, the problems with north korea, i thought about the problem if the the two koreas and the division in 1945, and to serve as a way in which we can understand contemporary events. so that's the basic reason. then as i started to get into
the research for the book, or tried to frame what the book -- i wanted to write a book that was sort of about -- was political and military history and also wanted to include cultural and social history and include all the participants in the war, china, united states, the two koreas and the soviet union, and it became very apparent to me i had to take the world beyond then 1953 period because, of course, the war didn't end in a peace treaty. it ended in an armistice. so that sort of why i decided to do -- really cover the contemporary issues. >> in this book, the fighting phase of the korean war after 1953 really takes only half of
the book. tell me about how you structured your approach? because really it extended up to the today. >> guest: well, the book is divided into four parts. the first is the war part. and then the second cold war, then the local war and the post cold war, and the war phase of the book, i actually sort of made into two phases. i could have talk about the civil war phase and then the international war phase but i decided to just easier to put is in one phase, the fighting faces of -- fighting phase of the war, so 1948, 1949, there was a -- it was suppressed by the newly established rok government, and decided at that point that -- toppling the regime was not going to work, and then the war
turned into an international war. that sort of section. the cold war phase is really the smallest part of the book but it looks at the impact of the korean war on the cold war. so, the impact of the korean war, not only on u.s. policy but also on china and of course the two koreas. and then the -- so that takes us from 1953 until late 1960s. and then the late 1960s is what i call the local war phase and that's an interesting period because at the end of the 1960s there was tremendous political changes taking place in asia. of course, the war in vietnam. there was -- 1972, the withdrawal of american troops from vietnam in 1973, and final
soviet split, the china and soviet union were actually butting heads. there was a conflagration in 1969. so because of the geopolitical changes in the sense the cold war in asia was coming to an end, but the fight between north and south korea was actually heating up. at this point, at the beginning of south korea's rise as an economic power, and south korea was kicking off at this point, and by contrast, north korea, period when its economy was starting to slow down, and so the saga, the window of opportunity to unify with the south quickly poisoned. and decided at that point to do a series of very provocative actions to take down the regime beginning with the blue house raid in an attempt to
assassinate the president, which failed. so local war phase between 1968 and early 1990s. the current -- extremely angry, wants to retaliate. the americans have come to restrain him and then kim sung, and '83, the attempted assassination, and a series of events and terrorist -- the flight 858, for example, into the '80s, so that period is' the struggles between north and south core -- korea and trying to restrain them from starting another war. the end of the cold war, end of
the soviet union in 1991, and north korea's economy going into a terrible slump, terrible famine, and so now the conflict it between north korea and the world. and nuclear issues becomes the issue, sort of the legacy of the korean war. so in a sense they're all distinct periods, all linked because they're part of the korean war. but they're distinct. so the -- the second themees there was an ongoing conflict between south and north korea. and and that conflict between the south and the north
continues, and the war changed and evolved. >> host: really, the war, unfinished business between north and south korea, but in the context of these incredible changes in the international context. and so it really is very relevant to contemporary policy as well. now, one thing i find interesting is that there's just a huge literature on the korean war you had to try to cover, and a lot of secondary sources that contained primary elements, and one thing i think is very interesting about the book is that you really have done a good job of capturing human elements and human voices at the same time that you're trying to tell this story of international religiouses and geopolitics. how did you focus in and find
those particular primary voices as you did your research? >> guest: well, in terms of the sources i used -- well, i'll lay out the sources i use and the primary news sources. the cold war -- i couldn't have written the book without that. a treasure trove, and there's a lot of personal dealings in personalities coming out in a lot of those telegrams, too. so that was really important. >> host: a project at the woodrow wilson center going on for 15 years. >> guest: right. the material they publish probably could fill many, many books, but that is really the foundation. but in terms of the other sources i used, of course the military history institute was a very important source for me, really for the first part, because the largest collection
of oral histories of the korean war so underring the operational history as well as the military history, as well as the voices of the korean soldiers who fought in the war. but the new materials came from the reconciliation commission. >> host: south korean -- >> the reconciliation commission start in 2005. and their goal was to look at contentious issues in south korea's history and bring them to the for and one of the issues it is was the in the '40 and '49 period. so i established contact with one of the lead researchers and she gave me a lot of published materials, a lot of oral
histories, and memories about what had happened. alongside with they actually did archaeological excavation, into people talking about particular places and there were actual photographs of what had happened. and actually two of those photographs are in the book. and so those sort of three main archives that provided in a sense an overarching way to -- for the events, gave me this personal touch because they were human beings telling me about the war, right? >> host: right. sounds like crowd also have some new sources in here that really haven't been incorporated in
other narratives. >> guest: right. >> host: and the evolving historiography of the korean war that hat developed. i wonder if you can give us a sense how the debate over how to look at the korean war has changed over time and also what you think is unique or distinctive about the opportunity you have to really write bat the korean war from a 21st century perspective. >> guest: well, briefly, in 1950s and 1960s the traditional view and the way in which people view the korean war, it was a product of the cold war and it was stalin who was behind it, it was stalin who told kim il-sung to invade the south, and that kim il-sung was a puppet of stalin and the korean war was a manifestation
of this larger cold war struggle. in and in the 1970s and 1980s, a revisionist approach occurred and the harbingers of that approach was bruce culpings or ins of the korean war and he looked at the korean war as a civil war, that it was not a product of the cold war per se but that the real reason for the war was civil origins, and that kim il-sung himself decided to invade the south on his own accord, to achieve unification. and then, of course, later, at the end of the cold war, we had all this new documentation, documents from the former soviet archives as well as from china, and it became very clear that kim il-sung was in fact behind the korean war, but it was a
little bit more complicated because although it's true that stalin gave the green light to kim il-sung, it was kim il-sung's idea. it was the -- the origin was civil. he really wanted to unify the south and that is why he asked stalin for support and that was -- and so it's both international and civil in that sense. there's no -- it's not a clearcut -- >> host: really kind of weaves the -- >> guest: what my book does, which is different than the literature on the korean war, most of the literaturure war deals with ore gips, why did the war happen, who caused it, et
cetera. and my interest in the book was to understand effects of the war. i did that as background but i'm interested in what did the korean war do to create this -- to create the cold war, how does it affect american society, how does it affect south korea. so the emphasis is very different. from origins to effect. >> host: and very clear in the sense that you have a half a book that really is focused on all of those effects. >> guest: right. >> host: we should get into that but before we do, i thought one of the things that was really striking also about the book was just to remind us that the korean war and the cold war really came right on the heels of the end of world war ii and raised in my mind the question
of whether this was a product of failures on the part of those who were trying to finish world war ii, or whether there might have been any way to stop this particular insipient conflict from developing, either at the civil level or with the framework of the international emerging confrontation. >> guest: what you're asking is what -- could there have been a particular event right after world war ii that could have perhaps prevented the korean war? >> host: yes. >> guest: that is an interesting question, and i think there's maybe perhaps two events but i don't think actually could have -- the events themselves could not have been prevented. the first would probably be the fact that stalin was able to enter the war before japan
collapsed or before it surrendered. had japan surrendered before the soviet union had been able to declare war on japan, you would have never had the 38th 38th parallel because it wouldn't have gone south and then the americans would not have had to ask him to stop at the 38th parallel. and then the second, perhaps, preventible occurrence could have been that stalin decided not to stop at the 38th 38th parallel. he did, the americans asked him if he would and he did, but he had perfect opportunity to take the korean peninsula on his own. he wouldn't get there -- we wouldn't get there until early september and he was there in august. the fact that the 38th 38th parallel itself became a reality right after the second world war in a sense made subsequent events and the subsequent separation of between the north and the south almost
inevitable. >> host: very unplanned drawing of a line -- >> guest: hap hazzard in the middle of the light. >> host: at the close of world war ii, and i wonder if you could say a little more about the details of what was going on. >> guest: the general who later became un commander in south korea, and dean russ -- dean rusk, who became secretary of state under kennedy and johnson, they were asked, where he thinks we can draw a line where the soviets might stop, and they took a national geographic map and they chose the -- 38th 38th parallel because it was just a little above seoul. and to everyone's surprise he decide. he decided, i will do so.
so it was just sort of haphazard event to draw that line. >> host: almost feels like that just sets the wheels rolling toward another confrontation. >> guest: a lot of other event that led to the korean war. you, point to acheson's speech when he said that taiwan and south korea are not part of our defense perimeter. at it really complicated but a lot of events that might have prevented it, but i think the line itself set the course for a south korea or south -- yeah, south korea and north korea. i don't think at the end of the second world war and with the emerging cold war in europe, the soviets and the americans could have come together and created a unified korea at that point. >> host: you really set the stage for competing occupation.
and so the fluidity of that period is interesting and actually you talked a little bit about the challenges of the respective occupations and efforts to work with local leaders. i wonder if you could say something comparing the occupation of -- soviet occupation and the u.s. occupation on the peninsula. >> guest: well, the soviet union actually had a lot easier time occupying the northern half because they had a reservoir of koreans who could speak -- i'm sorry -- of soviets who could speak korean. the soviet koreans, that's long and fascinating history in itself but a lot of -- at the end of the 19th century, when korea became colonized by japan, a lot of koreans fled the colony and established themselves in the soviet far east and thennin' 1937 stalin deported them to
prisons in central asia in kazakhstan, where they set up communes there, and thennen in 1945, stalin then took a lot members of the community and brought them back to north korea, and it was really the soviet koreans that helped to establish this north korean regime, and so you have this reservoir of soviets -- loyal soviet citizens who can speak korean and also infiltrating into the indigenous communities that began to spring up. the americans on the other hand didn't have koreans who could speak english. so the problem for them was how do you govern a place without any people who you can communicate with? and so the only people that were able to fulfill that role were
very elite, well-educated people, and many of them had collaborated with the japanese during the regime. the americanes also, when they came into the south, their main mission was not nation-building. they were thinking about demobilizing the japanese army. and so when general hodge came, he used many of the japanese officials, already in the south, because it was -- he was facilitating, demobilizing to get the japanese troops out, and from the korean perspective,ed looked very odd. here they're supposed to be liberated by the americans but the americans were colluding in a sense with the japanese. so from the very beginning there was suspicion, and continue to use the japanese officials, they used basically korean officials who had served under the
japanese colonial regime. so the situation in the south, because of the residual colonial effect, made the situation very volatile, and much more violent, whereas in the north, very quickly able to sort of get their house in order, and i think -- this is to sort of answer the question, what the resid aisle effects of the occupation was that north korea became much more organized, disciplined, structured, and the south became highly volatile, and violent, and then, of course in 1948 and 1949, there was a leftist insurgency in the south, and it was successfully repressed with the help of the americans by june 1950. but i think it was still a pretty volatile situation when
-- there were pockets left and that made hmm nervous when the americans left inform 1949. it's interesting that the korean war in a sense helped the south koreans unify themselves in a way that was not before. when the communists came down, they were brutal, and a lot of the south koreans turned against the communists from the north and that solidified their sense of national cohesion and identity, but i think kim il-sung calculated this because had he waited, it's very possible that the south probably would have -- it's possible it would have disintegrated on its own and it was the decision to militarily invade in a conventional sense. that was misinterpret by the americans as soviet inspired
invasion that got the americans involved. but had kim il-sung waited it out, it's very possible he could have inspired another sort of revolution in the south and he could have taken over by those means. i don't think the americans would have responded if it had been a korean -- really a korean inspired revolution. >> host: so that's really interesting because clearly the decision to start the war by kim il-sung on the one hand, a strategic surprise, but turn out to be, you just suggested, a huge miscalculation. >> guest: that could have happened but you're right. >> host: certainly a miscalculation in the sense that his efforts ended up failing, and he extended himself too far. >> guest: right. >> host: and i just found it interesting in going back and looking at the military aspects
of the war, that we saw these series of three measures, strategic surprises, that also had imbedded in them aspects of miscalculation. kim il-sung's decision to invade, and then of course the landing with macmacarthur, and mao's decision to send volunteers into the war. won kerr if you could say something about how the individual perceptions of these leaders who were making the decisions shaped the way they approached those particular decision. >> guest: so, you want me to describe what the miscalculations were and then -- >> host: yeah. i mean, i just find it interesting that in each case we had this dramatic turns that were based on actions that
seemed -- >> guest: maybe i should sort of go over what those miscalculations were. kim il-sung first. i think kim il-sung's miscalculation mainly was that he believed that once he invaded he would be welcomed by 200,000 -- leftist supporters that would embrace him. right? and that didn't happen. and i think once he got to seoul, he thought the war is probably over and everything is hunky-dory and his miscalculation was, miscalculating how the south koreans would react, and the north koreans were very ruthless. they didn't win very many friends with that sort of invasion, and i think with macarthur, the strategic
miscalculation was of course, he goes up to the river and miscalculates the chinese response, and his miscalculation was that he believed that the chinese hadn't entered the war on the winning side, that is when the north koreans were winning. weep why would they enter the war on the winning side. and -- the losing side. and it was a national security threat against china. so that was his big miscalculation, the chinese reacting to the move. and mao made miscalculation in entering the war. i think anybody -- i mean, rational person, u.n. troops coming up your border would react in a similar way as mao, and, again, mao really believed that if they had taken the
entire peninsula it would have been harder to defend china than taking it to do -- to confront the americans then rather than to confront them when they've taken the entire peninsula. i think mao's miscalculation was in january of 1951, when he had actually a chance to end the war, with the cease fire, and at that point the chinese were already down to the 37th 37th parallel and there was a cease fire offered at that point to mao, to stop, and it was significantly -- it would have given north korea much greater territory, including seoul, but mao believed that he could take the entire peninsula, and so he miscalculated by taking that -- by saying, no, to the cease fire. so, to me, that was his big mistake. >> host: and then when the u.s. got into the war, is really a
u.n. authorized police action. >> guest: right. >> host: at least that's what president trumanan presented. and then as the united states got involved, perceptions of the war and perceptions of what it would take to win or what constituted a win, changed, and so i wonder if you could say a little bit about that in particular maybe about how the fact that war had changed with the korean war, the atomic bomb, nuclear impact. >> guest: right. i mean, at that point, the -- take the entire -- to take the entire peninsula -- the idea at that point was to limit the war, because the nuclear bomb had put in a factor that nobody wanted to address again, which is, are
we going to have a third nuclear war -- oar there'd world war? so, korea was the beginning of what we call a limited war. you fight for a limited objective. not to win the war, but to fight to satisfy particular objective. and i think macarthur, coming from world war ii, didn't see war in that way. he believed the war still meant victory, which meant world war iii, and the bomb changed that calculation. right? >> host: and macarthur did not understand it was definitely framing the strategic objectives of the administration. >> guest: right. >> host: as truman grappled with the choices they had to make.
>> guest: right. >> host: so, in terms of the effects of the korean war and the unfinished nature of it, -- before we get into that, i want to ask you, you spent a lot of time working at the actions of u.s. policymakers, truman, acheson, eisenhower, and saw in detail what they were proposing. who do you think comes out well among u.s. policymakers in terms of understanding the nature of the conflict, the changes that were occurring? >> guest: well, i think hand down, ridgeway -- i think anyone who reads my book will see how much i really like ridgeway. ridgeway saved the eighth army. the chinese were pushing the u.n. army farther and farther
south. general walker had died accidentally, and ridgeway was put into that position of commander, and the fact that he changed -- was able to change the situation, had i think really important repercussions for the united states. i think this is a time of macare theism. i -- mccarthyism. and a loss would have been devastating for the democratic institutions and would have fed the fire of mccarthyism that much greater, had we actually been pushed off the korean peninsula. also think that had ridgeway not turned the eighth army around they would be a great possibility the war would have been enlarged to china, i.e., third world war. so, ridgeway was this forgotten
soldier in a forgotten war, that i think his actions in korea really had a very important impact, not only on the american domestic politics but could have been for world politics and we could have had a nuclear war with china. >> host: and then of course, the war ended really -- talk about the war's end, and in particular it's interesting -- haven't talked at all about the soviet union, and actually the soviets were not present in many visible forms in the war fight. but you talk about stalin and kim il-sung looking for backing and the way he disappointed kim il-sung. i wonder -- and of course, stalin critical in terms --
>> guest: by dying. >> host: say a little more about how the soviet strategy influenced the war, and also the transition that occurred on the peninsula between soviet influence and chinese influence on the north korean side. >> guest: well, i mean, i think stalin's role is very machiavellian. i think his main purpose in giving kim il-sung the green light was -- had actually more to do with china and fear of an independent chinese monolith than had to do with testing american resolve. he was very fearful that china might lean towards the united states and might lean towards the west. now we know that was really not possible. china had no desire to do so.
but so he thought that by giving kim il-sung the green light in korea, that would create the necessary tensions between the united states and the soviet union -- the united states and china to prevent any kind of -- he did not think the americans would intervene in korea, but he thought the americans would come into taiwan, and so that thereby creating a tension between the united states and china. so that was, i think, his main goal in giving the green light to the famous -- the changed international situation. but it really backfired but it was because of the great victory of mao and he had actually stopped the greatest superpower, came out of the korean war with
this huge prestige and mao is no longer going to play second fiddle to the soviet union after that. and instead it backfires and he created a more powerful china, china that was more independent of the soviet union, which then later led to detentions and eventually the split. sign -- and he was very -- look at sort of the communications between him and mao and kim il-sung, basically asking him to stop the war, especially the north koreans bus -- he saw the war as strategically good for him. it was bleeding korea and was keeping the americans occupied in korea, diverting them from europe.
so, he thought this strategy was good for him, but what happened is it let to a great deal of resentment, not just mao but also with kim il-sung. kim il-sung begins to sort of distance himself from stalin and from the soviet union, trying to sort of pave his own independent course. >> host: you get to the end of the fighting phase of the war. stalin's death allows the armistice negotiations to conclude. want to shift over and talk about the effects of the war because that's really, i think, the major portion of the book, and i think there's several aspects. this was a conflict between the u.s. and china. even though it was u.n. command and china's troops were
volunteers. how do you see the impact of that in terms of u.s. perceptions of strategy in east asia? >> guest: i think the larger question, what is the impact of the korean war on chinese-american relations and maybe i should talk about the aftereffects of the war, which is the meat of the book. the impact of the korean war for the americans was from 1946 to 1950 american foreign policy was rather incoherent. there was -- truman had announced the truman doctrine in 1947, which most cold war historians mark as the beginning of the cold war, and the threat that truman identified was actually quite incoherent. american defenses were low and
rapid demobilization after world war ii. so, it really took the korean war to create all the policy that we now see, we now associate with the cold war, the standing army, huge defense budgets, the perception of the cyno soviet bloc, and is a threat to american national security and all of that came about because of the korean war and because of the coreon war there was collusion between the government and the defense industry. so the birth of the military industrial complex that eisenhower later warned the nation against. be ware of the military industrial complex, in 1961. i think for china, the effect of the korean war was also extremely profound because it was during the korean war -- must remember that, first, china
thought the world's greatest superpower could stan still. that created huge prestige for mao. the century of humiliation and also during the korean war you see the mass mobilization campaigns that become familiar later on, the cultural revolution, and the reform campaign, and these campaigns were aimed to purge anyone who is against the communist regime. 1949, mao's hold on power is actually rather tenuous. there wering pockets of resistant. by the end of the korean war mao's power is completely enhanced and is totally now in control of china. mainly through these -- being able to sort of use the korean
war to purge internal enemies but the korean war also creates a tension between america and china that lasts for the next 20 years. the relations goes into the deep freeze, and because the korean war enhances mao's power it means china demands equality in the relationship with soviet union and will not play second fiddle to khrushchev, and in that sense the korean war was extremely important in setting china on the path of where it went. should i talk about south korea? >> host: i want to talk a little bit about the lessons of the korean war as related to vietnam. i think you have already set that out in your comments. both on the u.s. side and the
chinese side. >> guest: what is interesting about the lessons of -- i mean, in 1954, eisenhower had the opportunity to intervene on behalf of the french. the french were losing in indo-china, and there was a great battle of diene ben and there was a question whether the americans would come in and help the french and eisenhower said no, and the reason he said no is because we had just finished a very divisive war in korea, and he knew the american public was not going to agree another war in asia, but interestingly, ten years later, johnson, faced with a similar decision, intervened in vietnam, still completely different conclusion, so that is because the memory of the korean war had changed within the last decade. at first it was sort of unmentionable victory.
it was seen more or less as a loss. ten years later, the korean war is looked as as a consistent of win. at least we stopped the chinese at the 38th parallel. so johnson uses the korean war analogy to make a case for vietnam. he says, look, south vietnam is like south korea, divided nations and threatened by the communist nations supported by the soviet union and china. we did it in korea, we can do it in vietnam. of course, undersecretary of state said, wrong analogy. it's not about south korea and south vietnam are not equal. we have to look at the french experience in the indo-china war. but johnson felt he could not lose south vietnam because he saw -- truman viewed china and
he really didn't -- in a sense a product of the 1950s, so he saw korea as a way of justifying or -- yeah, justifying his involvement, which led to obviously the tragedy. in terms of china, i think what china's -- it's actually a lot more complicated for china. for now, war and revolution, that you could have this war in korea for domestic revolution, and i think used a similar analogy with the vietnam war to spur on the cultural revolution against so-called soviet revisionists. what is interesting in vietnam is that both mao and johnson
took the lessons of korea, now made it extremely clear they would intervene directly in the war if the americans invade north vietnam. unlike macarthur he took the lessons of korea and listened to mao's warning so another confrontation was avoided. >> host: i want to try to fast-forward to the current situation and i think the way to do that is to extend this impact of the korean war on u.s.-china relations and especially 1980s, as the u.s. and china developed a relationship. you talk about how the korean war shifts from a focal point of confrontation between the u.s. and china, to a source of stability. that's very important point. so if you can explain exactly how that seems to happen. >> guest: i'm not quite
understanding the question. >> host: well, basically the -- you talk about how the korean -- the division, the continued division becomes seen as strategically contributor to stability in the context of really u.s.-china relations, the way i interpret it. and it's an interesting point because basically suggests that sort of conflicts to endure that make it even more difficult to grapple with today. >> guest: i think that is sort of going the -- related question of, you know, american troops being sort of the stabilizing force in-and that goes back to the chapter of war for peace. president carter, in 1976
decided -- wanted to withdraw troops from south vietnam, and of course there was an outcry in south korea, but what was interesting is that none of the regional powers wanted the americans to leave, either. china didn't -- this is -- china was fearful that once the americans left they would have to deal with russia. right? and russian interests, and they were also afraid that kim il-sung might do something stupid. the soviets didn't want the americans to leave because they were also afraid that kim il-sung might start a war and they were afraid of his influence on the peninsula. and japan didn't want the americans to leave also because the dedestabilizeing aspects of the rivalry around the korean peninsula. so in a sort of strange way, the war became a way -- the war
became in a sense a means of peace. peace in the region because it was the american presence was stabilizing force around the peninsula. >> host: another factor that we probably need to talk about, is the war for legitimacy aspect, and of course that goes on today. >> guest: right. >> host: between north and south korea. at this stage, how do you see the fact the confrontation is continuing influences the respective views of north and south korea as they still face the contest for legitimacy at the same time it seems like it's over. >> guest: well, when i talk about the contest of legitimacy, it being over, i think it was over in the 1990s. right? when south korea emerges as this economic power and north korea was faced with economic collapse
and a terrible famine so in a sense you can say that the korean -- the south koreans already won the war. everyone recognized they're the legitimate korea, and i think the problem is for the north koreans to recognize their defeat, and i think that is part of the reason why it's so difficult for them to affirm. north korea's national security threat is not the united states. it's the prosperity and wealth of and prestige of south korea and that puts north korea in a catch-22 situation. they want -- they need reform in order to survive, but any kind of reform that would open the country up would necessarily mean the end of the regime, and so how are they going to -- basically means saying that the south koreans have won, which
means the end of their regime, so that's their paradox, and i think part of the reason why we have that continuing problem, is they're unable to admit they are defeated. but of course, like i said, admitting defeat means the end of the regime. >> host: so unending contest for legitimacy and you talk about chinese and we're not in an international context right now. so, what is your expectation with regards to how the unending conflict is going to actually be brought to an end. do you see the end game? >> guest: i don't think the end game is going to be unification between north and south korea.
i don't see that happening. because really unification means the absorption of south korea with north korea, and the regime would have to admit defeat and i don't see the north korean regime doing that, and in the south, they're much less interest in unification, particularly among the young generation. they don't want to sacrifice for that. so, the epilogue, the way i sort of see the end game happening, is that china will continue to exert more and more influence economically over north korea, shielding the regime from collapse, which they're promoting incremental reforms that will help promote the economy and so that the regime can survive but slowly change
and so that china sort of drags north korea into the 21st 21st century so to speak without regime collapse. because for china, the most important objective is peace and stability in east asia in the korean peninsula, and of course, regime collapse would not do that. >> host: so that creates a real dilemma for south korea. on the one hand, an important point, probably not a great desire to pay for unification, and yet at the same time, international narrative, it seems like it would be very difficult to redirect south korea away from the legitimacy contest. how do you see the situation in south korea and -- >> guest: in terms of the legitimacy contest?
>> host: the legitimacy contest and the idea of china absorbing north korea. that could be a very divisive -- >> guest: so you can have one conflict perhaps ending, north korea slowly being obtained in a sense by north korea eventually. i don't think it's -- it's happening rapidly. and then, of course, the new conflict between the south korea and china occurring. but what is interesting when you talk about the legitimacy contest and the fact that south korea knows it has won. it has won the legitimacy war with the north. what has occurred is a strange kind of indifference towards north korea. a lot of people -- for example, this past spring when we had north koreans threatening war and leaving armistice and all this incredible rhetoric. in south korea it was almost
indifference. people were hardly paying attention to it, and that stens to the human rights issues in north korea. there's a minority of defectors in the south but for the most part, a strange kind of indifference towards the fate of north korean human rights issues, and really, again, the effect of -- not a particularly strong desire to unify with north korea. and that has -- i think it's a generational issue but becoming less and less and less. so, while the north is extremely preoccupied with the south, defectors talk about when they're brought back or -- one of the first questions that north korean guards always ask, north koreans who try to escape, did you talk to south korean?
they're deathly afraid of that information about the south getting into the north. whereas for the south, we won, you know, sure, i'd like unification, but in the long term, maybe after i'm dead. that's the attitude. >> host: so south korea has moved on. north korea can't let it go. >> guest: can't let it go. north korea they're still fighting, still in the war, and the warrer is still part of their psyche, and i think the south -- the war was part of their psyche until they won it, when its became obvious that no longer was the driving force. what is interesting the korean was in a sense a huge driving force for south korea's economic development. constantly used the north korean threat to suppress dissents and also to put forth this economic
security policies. north koreans were portrayed as the devil and then then 1990s, a completely different -- north koreans, we embrace them as brothers and that became part of the dissension policy, and when that failed and there was no -- didn't look like north korea was actually going to change, or would accept this big brother from the south, then more or less indifference. >> host: basically south korea has won but the prize is -- have to wait and see. >> guest: right. >> host: that might be a good place for us to stop. >> guest: okay. >> host: enjoyed talking with you about your book. congratulations. >> guest: thank you.
>> the name of the book is written by former las vegas mayor, oscar goodman. mayor goodman, when did you come to vegas and why. >> we came here in 1964. i went to a wonderful liberal arts college in the outskirts of philadelphia and i loved every day of college and when i went to law school at the university of pennsylvania, the civil rights movement was very, very active... time of the civil rights movement were was very active. the students that were there were interested in corporate law and the like. i had just gotten married. i felt bad that i wasn't supporting my wife. one day i decided to walk down to city hall to the da's office and say, you have a job. and i was very lucky because they took me to the office of arlen specter. he was just coming off