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This Note, reprinted from The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 11, No. 4, Autumn 1988, discusses the issues surrounding the deterrence and management of crises in Northeast Asia, and the regional strategic consequences of such crises. The author discusses the relationship between crises and political stability in Northeast Asia and concludes that the danger of rocking the boat too much, even well short of war, is a potential source of fundamental change in the region. Premeditated attack seems unlikely for the foreseeable future. Gradual strategic realignments also appear to have little chance of fundamentally upsetting the power balance. Assessments of stability in Northeast Asia that exclude the possibility of limited displays of force in a crisis are incomplete and overlook some of the more likely, and possibly larger, dynamics of change in the region.

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