Edited by Arjan van Dijk
James I. Matray
President Jimmy Carter’s foreign policies toward Korea were targets of wide criticism from his contemporaries in the late 1970s, and they remain contentious among historians today. The root of Carter’s dismal record regarding this East Asian nation was not simply his misplaced focus on troop withdrawals and human rights, but rather the U.S. president’s failure to change measurably or positively the status quo on the Korean Peninsula. Utilizing sources from the United States and, to a lesser extent, Romania, the former Yugoslavia, and People’s Republic of China, this article explores an often ignored element of Carter’s policy toward the two Koreas—dialogue—to illuminate this point. It also explores U.S.-China diplomacy on the dialogue initiative, demonstrating the limits of relying on Beijing to coax P’yŏngyang into returning to the negotiating table.