Since the partition of the Korean peninsula, the crises between Seoul and Pyongyang have ranked high in the US political agenda. Nonetheless, the profile that the Obama administration has chosen to keep is relatively low. This choice has triggered criticisms, however the posture has brought its own benefits. Moreover, in a difficult economic situation, and in the face of increasing pressures for the curtailing of government expenditure, the ‘low profile’ approach meets the demands of a Congress whose support the White House increasingly needs. The main uncertainty is in the attitude of the PRC. However Beijing, more than any other nation, has a keen interest in keeping East Asia stable. This does not mean that China will become a sort of ‘US cop’ in East Asia. However, some forms of localized cooperation can be envisaged; a cooperation that could strengthen, as China will progress in occupying the international position that its leadership believes the country deserves.
The forms of international intervention have deeply changed since the end of the Cold War. They have assumed a democratic character: recent cases of intervention are mainly carried out by democracies and are justified by democratic principles as the protection of human rights or the promotion of human dignity. Moreover, they are aimed at the democratization of the target-country. This unprecedented democratic attitude has given birth to a new kind of relationship between international intervention and democratization - which in the past was understood only as a domestic political process.