U.S. Continues to Invent EnemiesThe United States Should Seek the World's Victory, Not Just a U.S. Home Run
Mrs. Dorothy Bush, grand mother of George W. Bush who was sworn in as the 43rd president of the United States, did not praise her son whenever he boasted of a home run. Instead, she would qui etly squelch his excitement over his personal accomplishment by asking about other players' hits and his team's performance.
In "WASP," a book about the U.S. ruling class and how its power has passed from generation to generation, author Michio Ochi takes a particular note of the important role matriarchal educa tion played in raising the elite members of U.S. society. One key example is the Bush family, espe cially Mrs. Barbara Bush, the first woman in U.S. history to live to see both her husband and son become the president of the United States.
The White Anglo-Saxon Protestant ethic of thinking first not of personal victory but the team's performance and not of the individual but the organization, are exemplary virtues, of course.
Neighboring countries or those under their rule can nevertheless become wary of the ethic if they are honored and valid only within the ruling class or state. In his inaugural address, George W. Bush said, "We will build our defenses beyond chal lenge." We cannot take issue with this declaration, if we take it as mere rhetoric demonstrating the U.S. commitment to peace and security. The story changes, how ever, if it is part of an inaugural speech of the president of the most powerful country in the world, in which every word carries great sig nificance.
The Soviet Union, its former foe, collapsed long ago and even East Europe is moving to form a military partnership with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. One could argue that there are still irrogue states,lt thus named unilat erally by the United States. But even if these states had carried out roguish acts, are they threatening enough to justify the U.S. meas ures aimed at strengthening its defense capabilities? Doesn't the United States have enough arms already to counter any missile attack from, say, North Korea or Iraq, and reduce these countries into piles of ashes even before their missiles reach the United States or the regions under its jurisdiction?
Immediately after declaring his intention of building U.S. defenses beyond challenge, Mr. Bush vowed, "We will confront weapons of mass destruction, so that a new century is spared new horrors."
No one objects to seeking to be spared horrors, old or new. But it is also extremely important to ask precisely what means of supra mass destruction the United States intends to use to avert or seek vengeance against mass destruc tion.
One of the key measures the United States is hoping to use is a national missile defense system, whose deployment Mr. Bush has pledged despite its technological failures proven during the Clinton administration. This risky gamble, which will surely touch off oppo sition from the European Union, not to mention provoke China and Russia into entering a new arms race, represents the arrogance and recklessness of the U.S. refusal to recognize peace, even in the absence of war. Its plan to estab lish a theater missile defense sys tem is also highly likely to force countries in key strategic locations to assume great expenses and security risks without benefiting from practical gains.
The most baffling part of Mr. Bush's inaugural speech is the warning, iaThe enemies of liberty and our country should make no mistake.le Who exactly are the ene mies of the United States and what constitutes a mistake? Russia, which is disarming its nuclear weapons with help from U.S. technology and capital, clear ly is not its enemy. China, although annoyed with U.S. support of Taiwan and its opposition to China's entry into the World Trade Organization, is not its enemy, at least not yet. Belligerent states in the Middle East could be on its list of suspected enemies, but then the United States once organized multinational forces to whip them into line. Should China and Russia decide to launch their missiles against the United States, it would not be a mistake; it would signal the end of the earth. And unless they are eager to hasten their own destruction, neither Iran nor Libya is going to threaten the United States with missile launches, an act akin to suicide.
Yet the United States keeps inventing nonexistent enemies or else speaks of challenges from irrelevant enemies. Why? Half a century ago, U.S. President Eisenhower warned of threats from the military-industrial complex, and economists empha sized the risks of ifa permanent wartime economy,ls which sought to avoid a U.S. economic depres sion due to a shortage of demand by creating enemies and thus guar anteeing its arms sales.
It is truly regrettable that the inaugural address of the president of the world's most powerful country showed that it is still under the spell of such logic and reeks of gunpowder in this age of global ization. It seems the new U.S. pres ident is not comfortable with the advice to seek the world's victory in concert with other countries instead of only a U.S. home run.
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Joseph W. Chung