[VIEWPOINT]U.S. is waging 6 wars on terrorThe outlook for international conditions related to the Korean Peninsula is gloomy at the beginning of the year. Late last year, on the 100th day after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, U.S. President George W. Bush said darkly that 2002 could be a year of war, although he hoped it would be a year of peace.
Though Koreans should take seriously the dismal outlook of Mr. Bush, we have not because of our high spirits in regard to the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan and the presidential election in December.
The Bush administration's war against terrorism will enter a second stage in 2002, regardless of whether the United States captures Osama bin Laden, the suspected leader of the Sept. 11 attacks. We should look ahead to how the new phase of the war will affect the world, Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula, and design countermeasures.
The United States will begin active wars in six areas against global terrorist networks and terrorism-supporting states in 2002. First, the United States will prepare for a homeland defense war, and it will continue military operations such as "Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan. The United States will carry out a war to track terrorist activities and to arrest suspected terrorists, and will focus on diplomatic efforts to secure military support from foreign countries. America will be at war in the economic sector to freeze the assets of terrorist groups and uncover financial support to terrorists. It will also step up its humanitarian efforts to help people in Afghanistan.
We should pay special attention to how U.S. military operation will expand. We should also take an interest in U.S. diplomatic initiatives. Mr. Bush said at a press conference that he was keeping score of other countries' substantive support to the U.S. war against terrorism.
These U.S. wars will have significant effects on the situation in Northeast Asia. Conditions here were dominated by the United States and the Soviet Union in the Cold War era. In the post-Cold War era, the United States allied with Japan and other Asian powers to confront China. But the Sept. 11 attacks eased tensions between the United States and China because they must cooperate in waging these six wars. On the other hand, Japan will take an active role in the U.S. war effort to solidify relations between Japan and the United States and to keep Japan's status in Northeast Asia strong. How conditions in Northeast Asia will change in the long run after the war against terrorism depends on whether China succeeds in adapting to 21st century global standards to match its growing economic power.
Peace on this peninsula in 2002 depends on the Koreas' reaction to the U.S. wars. After the terrorist attacks, North Korea said cautiously that it was opposed to all kinds of terrorist activity and state support for terrorism. After the U.S. began military operations in Afghanistan, the North voiced concern about a vicious circle of terror and retaliation, and insisted that the United Nations instead of the United States should lead measures against terrorism. In December, the North worried publicly and vehemently about the possibility that the war against terrorism in Afghanistan would expand to other parts of the world, and said that if the United States targets North Korea, the North would not hesitate to make war.
Those statements are a part of North Korea's negotiating strategy. The North uses strongly worded language in order to gain maximum advantage in negotiations. But Mr. Bush is not likely to accept those strong denunciations and table-thumping tactics by the North as passively as the past U.S. administration did. There is more likely to be a strong reaction from Washington.
So if it wants to keep the peninsula calm this year, South Korea should not try to project an ambiguous attitude which could be interpreted as siding with North Korea or trying to keep an awkward neutrality between the United States and the North. We should demonstrate to the United States that we are actively supporting the war against terrorism as long as it continues to be conducted justly. We should also persuade North Korea to find constructive negotiating tactics, since this war is a very different type of war from those of the past.
The writer is a professor of international relations at Seoul National University.
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