중앙데일리

[VIEWPOINT]Bad reasons for anti-U.S. effort

Apr 15,2002
Recently, I received an e-mail that urged me to boycott McDonald's products. According to this mail, the boycott was payback against the United States for "forcing" Korea to buy U.S.-made weapons, President George W. Bush's "axis of evil" speech and the gold medal incident in which a Korean skater at the Winter Olympics in Utah lost to an American in a controversial ruling. The letter argued that this campaign is not the expression of ultranationalism but a purely defensive measure by a capitalist nation in a capitalist world. The boycott would lead McDonald's to exercise political clout with the United States government, which would eventually force some changes in Washington's policy. This type of anti-American campaign reaches a new level compared with past anti-American efforts.

The fundamental errors of this letter lie in the fact that the writer does not truly understand the nature of the examples that he gave as the reason for an anti-American campaign. First, let's take a look at the "axis of evil" speech by Mr. Bush. Naming North Korea as a source of evil, and bluntly threatening to engage in military activities, if necessary, to force policy change is problematic. The speech created a tense atmosphere on the Korean Peninsula and threatened a country that has been willing to come to the negotiation table to discuss nuclear issues.

Nevertheless, this speech itself should not become the catalyst for an anti-American campaign since not everyone in the United States agrees with its premise. The American press, the New York Times at its center, Democratic lawmakers from both houses of Congress and many people in the intellectual community have criticized the speech. Ignoring the multifaceted political structure of the United States, which contains a lot of different viewpoints, viewing Mr. Bush as representing the majority of Americans and basing an anti-American campaign on it is a mistake. What we should do is ally ourselves with the critics and try to change the policy of the Bush administration. This move would serve our interest much better.

Talking about the FX project is even more of a problem. The reason the F-15 was selected as the fighter plane for the Korean Air Force is not because the United States government and its arms industry lobbied for it. The selection is a pure stand-alone decision made by our government. When a nation purchases weapons, several factors have to be considered. Performance, price and technology transfer are certainly important things to consider. Nevertheless, military alliance, strategic factors and the ability to cross-use the weapons are important as well. Ignoring these issues could result in very negative results. Besides, the FX project has cleared only the first selection round, and the possibility exists that negotiations might turn sour, so we have to wait and see what happens.

Traditionally, the American weapons industry has viewed the Korean market as its monopoly. When the F-16 was selected only two American companies, General Dynamics and McDonnell Douglas, took part in the bidding process. This time, besides America, companies from France, Russia and a European consortium participated in the bidding. Although an American company was selected in the first round of the process, the range of bidders shows that the "vested rights" of the American companies are not immune anymore from challenge. Hence, to call this a forced purchase is certainly not the correct expression.

The "gold medal robbery," as many Koreans like to call the Winter Olympics case of Kim Dong-sung, is another example of using the wrong event for an anti- American campaign. The reason Mr. Kim did not get his gold medal in short track speed skating is not because of the United States or Apolo Ohno, the eventual winner. It's the fault of the Australian judge and the rule of the International Skating Union that the call of a judge cannot be overturned. Undeniably, Ohno had the home advantage and I still find it hard to suppress my anger towards Jay Leno, who joked about Korea and dogs.

The United States is still the vital partner for our national interests. Twisted facts should not be used for anti-Americanism. We have to understand America to build a relationship that is of mutual interest.


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The writer is a professor of international relations at Yonsei University.

by Moon Chung-in




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