[EDITORIALS]Worrisome U.S. Policy StartThe U.S. government announced Thursday that it would abandon the Kyoto Protocol, the international accord to fight change in the global climate. This disappointing decision has dampened the international community's efforts to prevent global warming. It is likely that decade-long efforts to reduce emissions of six "greenhouse gases," including carbon dioxide, will completely fall apart. The protocol calls for the reduction of gas emissions by 7 percent in the United States, 6 percent in Japan and 8 percent in the European Union by 2012 compared with 1990 emission levels.
Explaining the background of his decision, President George W. Bush said, "I will not accept a plan that will harm our economy and hurt American workers." He thus emphasized that top priority is interests of those living in the United States. It is a very dangerous way of thinking. The United States is a major culprit when it comes to global warming. Americans, accounting for 4.6 percent of the world population, emit 25 percent of greenhouse gases. Does the United States think it can escape the disaster to hit the global village? Mr. Bush's statement smacks of arrogance; international responsibility and pledges can be ignored if they are not in the national interest of the United States.
It has been only two months since the Bush administration, advocating "diplomacy of power" and "realistic diplomacy," was launched, but its impact is already being felt in international affairs. As soon as he took office, Mr. Bush embarked on Iraq-bashing, and then, reminiscent of the cold war era, he accelerated tensions with Russia by expelling some of its diplomats. The new administration defines China as a "strategic competitor," not a "strategic partner." News reports from Washington say that the United States is focusing its military strategy on the Pacific, not in Europe. If the United States presses ahead with the sale of Aegis destroyers to Taiwan despite China's strong opposition, the sparks will fly.
Already, the United States is in conflict with Russia and China over the issue of a national missile defense system. The Bush administration seems to signal a go-ahead with the system, which entails the development and deployment of interceptor missiles, ignoring the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which limits the deployment of anti-ballistic missiles. Most U.S. allies, including European nations, dislike missile defense, but the United States does not seem to care a whit. Furthermore, Washington says it supports the South Korean government's engagement policy toward the North, but has drawn a sharp line, saying that it has no intention of resuming talks with North Korea for the time being. Visits by the heads of U.S. allies, including South Korea, Japan and Germany, all ended on a sour note.
Some analysts say that the hardliners in the Defense Department and the moderates in the State Department are fighting for the ear of President Bush, who has no experience in foreign affairs. Some express concerns that mixed signals, issued in droves without internal fine-tuning, are driving the international situation to a more worrisome state. In diplomacy, principles and objectives are of paramount importance, but the methods must be flexible. Sometimes carrots may be more effective than sticks. Inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation, opened with much difficulty, cast a thin ray of hope on the Korean Peninsula. The Bush administration should not make the mistake of turning back the clock on the Korean Peninsula with its hard-line diplomacy that has no practical benefits.