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Defiant Failed State: The North Korean Threat to International Security.

Defiant Failed State: The North Korean Threat to International Security by Bruce E. Bechtol Jr. Potomac Books (, 22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, Virginia 20166, 2010, 288 pages, $23.96 (hardcover), ISBN 978-1-59797-531-5.

International issues of nuclear proliferation, ballistic missile testing, illicit narcotics trade, illegal financial operations, and the threat of military conflict in the Pacific all share one association--North Korea. Bruce Bechtol's Defiant Failed State: The North Korean Threat to International Security provides an excellent examination of the multifaceted security threat that North Korea poses to the United States and the international community. A former intelligence officer in the Defense Intelligence Agency, Bechtol has lived and worked on the Korean Peninsula and has published a number of studies on security issues relating to North Korea. He currently serves as an associate professor of political science at Angelo State University. In this book, Bechtol's latest effort, the holistic approach to understanding the North Korean threat reflects his extensive experience. He considers the multiple aspects of the threat and the effectiveness of past US policy, offering clear recommendations valuable to any reader interested in international security policy or in understanding North Korea's reach and influence.

Unlike other authors writing about North Korea, Bechtol moves beyond rehashing the history and past actions of the Kim regime. Instead, he concentrates primarily on the last decade of Kim Chong-il's leadership, including reactions of the United States and Republic of Korea (ROK), in order to make clear recommendations for future interaction between key players on the Korean Peninsula. Bechtol uses the threat of North Korea's conventional military force as a jumping-off point for discussing its role in international security. Perhaps most useful to military readers operating in the ROK, Defiant Failed State explores the history of the United States' transfer of operational control to the ROK, examining key limitations, strengths, and the transfer's potential impact on deterring North Korean aggression. Bechtol stresses North Korea's effect on international stability by probing its involvement in proliferating weapons and nuclear technology to Syria, Iran, and Libya as well as terrorist organizations. Although written prior to the death of Kim Chong-il and Kim Chong-un's ascension to power in December 2011, the book analyzes key considerations and the internal power structure of the North Korean government, thereby highlighting the power transfer and hurdles that Kim Chong-un might encounter.

Bechtol's lessons concerning past US-North Korea policy failures and successes are a valuable resource for military and policy decision makers. Defiant Failed State is an excellent choice for any reader who wishes to grasp the far reach and influence of North Korea on international security and the implications of US policy decisions regarding the Korean Peninsula and beyond.

Capt Kyle Bressette, USAF

Nellis AFB, Nevada

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Author:Bressette, Kyle
Publication:Air & Space Power Journal
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2014
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