[VIEWPOINT] Dealing With Bush's New World View

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[VIEWPOINT] Dealing With Bush's New World View

The United States is, according to the renowned U.S. historian Arthur Schlesinger, an ambivalent country that believed in freedom but at the same time maintained a slave system for 80 years.

There were times that the United States fell into McCarthyism, but it would always come back to the road of freedom, Schlesinger noted.

U.S. foreign policy is the area that most vividly shows the truth of American ambivalence. Since the end of the Cold War, the United States, as the sole superpower, has been slanted toward "unilateral activism" at the expense of international cooperation.

During the Cold War the United States had no choice but to put priority on building cooperation with allies, because it was a matter of life and death, not a matter of choice.

But after the Cold War ended, international cooperation was a matter of choice and sometimes irksome, like the ropes of the Lilliputians that tied down Gulliver.

The United States gradually was lured into the pursuit of its own interests, unbound by international cooperation, and that course was even more bluntly expressed at the beginning of the George W. Bush administration.

But the September 11 terrorist attacks have changed Mr. Bush's view of the world and its foreign policies.

The return of America, as Schlesinger puts it, has begun once again.

The post-Sept. 11 new world for Bush is not the world that would be unilaterally led by the United States, but a world globally allied against terrorism.

This new world view was born as a result of the realization that the safety and national interests of the United States cannot be advanced without consolidating a global alliance.

The return of U.S. foreign policies from unilateralism to cooperative alliances could be a positive element for the stabilization of the situation on the Korean Peninsula. But a closer look into the new thinking of Mr. Bush shows a few elements that suggest we cannot be completely optimistic.

The first element is whether the United States intends to maintain its current policies on the Korean Peninsula, where the safety of the United States is not directly at stake. So far, America's policy toward the Korean Peninsula has been determined by geopolitical considerations, but from now on, the anti-terrorism alliance will be more of a determining factor than geopolitics. Then, the question becomes one of the effectiveness of stationing American troops overseas to counter terrorism.

The recently announced Quadrennial Defense Review conducted by the Pentagon discusses the question of reduction and withdrawal of American troops deployed overseas; U.S. troops stationed in Korea will not be the exception to this scrutiny.

Another worrisome factor is that President Bush has not shown any change toward the North Korea-U.S. relationship despite his new view of the world.

In a session with reporters before his departure for Shanghai to participate in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Mr. Bush reiterated his negative views about North Korea. While welcoming Pyeongyang's anti-terrorism statement, Bush demanded that the North withdraw its conventional forces further north from the DMZ, implying that he intends to keep the initiative on military issues. Maybe we are hoping, to no avail, that Mr. Bush's new world view will contribute to enhancing relations between Pyeongyang and Washington.

If so, efforts by the two Koreas to work independently for peace on the Korean Peninsula through the sunshine policy will continue to face obstacles.

Finally, issues concerning the Korean Peninsula have not received attention from U.S. policymakers as they formed the global alliance. Policymakers in Washington are focusing their attention on creating a cooperative alliance with China, Japan and Indonesia to form an anti-terrorism network.

If issues on the Korean Peninsula have been erased from Washington's agenda in the process of fighting terror, the sunshine policy will be marginalized.

The challenge we are facing is how to accommodate the effects of Mr. Bush's new world view on stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula. A reconsideration of our foreign policies, which seem to lack direction and a basic framework, is urgent.


by Chang Dal-joong

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