Economic MAD as Middle Powers’ Strategic Tool in the Great Power Rivalry (2022.08)


초록 : The Cold War theory of mutually assured destruction (MAD), which described the reciprocal damage resulting from the use of nuclear weapons, can be expanded in the 21st century to include more dimensions including climate and the economy. The economic dimension of MAD (dubbed as EMAD) is a situation where one country is incapable of disrupting trade with a target country without also causing itself significant economic d[amage. This can occur given the presence of a specific economic advantage on which the coercing power relies. How can the presence of EMAD help afford middle powers more leeway in their alignment decisions within this strategic dilemma? What economic advantages create a stronger situation of EMAD? In line with these inquiries, this article investigates three cases, each with differing degrees of economic MAD: the 2016 Korea-China dispute over THAAD deployment; the 2020 Australia-China dispute over Covid-19; and the 2022 case of Korea’s participation in IPEF. After all, middle powers need to develop a ‘collective security-type arrangement’ where China’s wielding of economic muscle against any middle power state is considered an aggression against all other middle powers, which act together or collectively assist the target state to make the most of EMAD vis-à-vis China. For this, it is reasonable and realistic to promote the democratic liberal international order (LIO) by aligning with U.S.-led minilateral and multilateral initiatives or mechanisms. Yet, it is also important to identify areas and ways to engage with China rather than alienating or excluding it on the international stage.