“Benign Negligence: U.S.-South Korean Relations at the End of the Carter Administration”
President Carter hoped to define his foreign policy on human rights and liberalization. With the removal of the longtime authoritarian leader, Park Chung Hee, the year 1979 presented an opportunity for democracy in South Korea in 1979. The Carter administration missed this opportunity because of world events and poor communication. This thesis analyzes President Carter’s goals and the way changed over the course of the administration. Ultimately, international crises like the oil crisis, the Iranian hostage crisis, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan distracted the administration from the hope for democratization in South Korea. This unintended negligence left the security-minded American officials in South Korea in charge. This thesis shows the opportunities and limits of American power abroad and the difficulty in pursuing a moralistic foreign policy.