A Vote for Strong Korean-U.S. Relations

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A Vote for Strong Korean-U.S. Relations

The South Korea-U.S. Cooperation
On Security Should Not Be Changed


Great attention is focused on whether the new Bush administration will change U.S. policy toward North Korea and Korean Penin-sula. The question is how will it affect the relationship of both Koreas and their relations with the United States. It is generally anticipated that the new Republican policy on North Korea will follow one of the two paths now under discussion.

Some observers say they think the Bush administration is more likely to demand stricter bilateralism and transparency towards North Korea, taking into consideration the traditional conservative disposition of the Republic Party, and the composition of Bush’s senior diplomatic, security and national defense staff.

North Korea may return to its former stiff attitude and apply brinkmanship policies again. That will cast a dark shadow over North-South and the U.S.-South Korea relations.

This definitely will not benefit the South, and it is not what we want.

But on the other hand, there is a persuasive view, which brings up the importance of the current changes in the situation of the Korea Peninsula and the progress in the North-South relations, under
which the Bush administration would recognize, and not break, the newly constructed framework.

In this period of transition, it is most important to minimize the period of policy adjustments and confirm the U.S.-South Korea security cooperation policy. For the stability and peace of Korea Peninsula, changes of North Korea must be carefully considered.

Any policy change on North Korea should be taken in light of South Korean national security interests. In this dimension, I want to make recommendations to the future U.S. policy makers.

First of all, policy coordination between South Korea and the United States are required to strengthen the relationship of security cooperation. In any case, the bilateral defense alliance between the South and the United States and the U.S. armed forces in Korea must be firmly maintained. It may be a groundless concern, but the desire to reorganize U.S. armed forces overseas, referred to by Colin Powell, the new state secretary under President Bush, might have some impact on the U.S. armed forces of Korea.

In the beginning of the 1990s under the Republican government
there was partial implementation of the plans to withdraw U.S. armed forces in Korea in three phases, and change its military posture, under the name of ‘East Asia Pacific Strategic Plan’. The Korean government must be watchful of such moves and attempt to stop them.

Second, in the process of driving future North Korea policy, it is important to keep close policy coordination between the U.S. and South Korea, in order to accomplish such essential policy goals as alleviating military tension and building confidence.

But if North Korea continues to disregard the alleviation of military tensions and construction of peace, true progress in the North-South relations is difficult to achieve.

Accordingly, North-South inter-military talks and the Panmunjom general level meeting should be activated.

Third, I want to emphasize the importance of harmony and the balance between the North Korea policy of the United States and Korea. The North’s efforts to alienate the South from the U.S. should be blocked. There should be no room for North Korea to exclude or neglect either side.

The most ideal scenario for the South is to have a balanced and harmonious development between Korea-U.S. relations, North-South relations and North-U.S. relations.

Encouraging North Korean reconciliation and the promotion of North-South and North-U.S. relations thorough Korea-U.S. cooperation is a prerequisite.

There is nothing more effective in dealing with North Korea than determined Korean-U.S. security cooperation.

The writer is the president of the Veteran’s Association of Korea.

by Lee Sang-Hoon

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