Crisis stability or general stability? Assessing Northeast Asia's absence of war and prospects for liberal transition

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Is the relatively long peace of Northeast Asia a result of crisis stability or general stability? The article introduces two stability concepts - crisis and general stability. Crisis stability occurs when both sides in military crisis are so secure due to its military capability and are able to wait out a surprise attack fully confident that it would be able to respond with a punishing counter attack. On the other hand, general stability prevails when two powers greatly prefer peace even to a victorious war whether crisis stability exists or not, simply because war has become inconceivable as a means of solving any political disagreements and conflicts. While crisis stability entails delicate balance of military power from the deterrence literature of security studies, general stability bases its logic of inquiry on constructivism where the idea of war aversion - categorically rejecting war as a means to end conflicts - becomes the prevailing norm. Therefore, this article empirically examines how Northeast Asia has sustained its peace through crisis stability and presents a new trend toward general stability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-309
Number of pages23
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jun 8

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author would like to thank Bates Gill, Kevin Clements, Chung-in Moon, and Stein Tonnesson for their helpful comments on an early version of this article. Thanks also to Hans Schattle and Joe Phillips provided very meaningful comments on the semi-final version of the manuscript and the three anonymous referees, whose critical feedback comments pushed me to rethink several portions of the argument. The author finally thanks Kun Sik Hong and Do Hyung Kim for their research assistance. Financial support by the East Asia Peace Programme at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University is gratefully acknowledged.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 British International Studies Association.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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