[GLOBAL EYE]North presents difficult choicesThe reason the debate on the cause of the Iraq war and the morality of the United States seems to be so leisurely here has to do with the North Korea nuclear crisis. Our government, defying the anti-war mood at home and abroad, has issued a statement in support of the U.S. action and decided to dispatch noncombat troops for the war against Iraq, after serious deliberation, because it is a war led by our most important ally, the United States. The reason the United States looms so large in our affairs is because of its importance in solving the North Korea nuclear issue. Further-more, it is because North Korea sticks to its insistence on bilateral dialogue with the United States and stakes its regime’s life on it.
Senior officials in Washing-ton proclaimed that they would endeavor to solve the North Korea nuclear issue after the Iraq war. The United States announced that they would suspend any working-level contact with North Korea during the strike on Iraq. The United States might not be able to afford to spare effort to deal with North Korea, but it might think that, more than anything else, the power of its state-of-the-art weapons used during the Iraq war will put strong pressure on North Korea’s leadership.
Experts on North Korea say that North Korea would be immensely threatened if the United States wins a victory in Iraq quickly. They say the North would soften its brinkmanship. They predict that hawkish figures in the Bush administration, gaining confidence in military chastisement, will raise their voices in dealing with North Korea.
Other experts put forth an interpretation that the United States will be more inclined to listening to the international community’s urgings for a peaceful solution to North Korea nuclear ambitions, since Washington forced the campaign against Iraq without the endorsement of the United Nations.
In any case, the direction of the issue depends on North Korea. U.S. President George W. Bush and his aides are not expected to easily change their perception of North Korea and its leadership, regardless of the outcome of the Iraq war. The United States may review the role of the United Nations, where France, Germany and China among permanent members of UN Security Council, opposed the campaign against Iraq. The operating logic of the “Pax Americana,” U.S.-dominated peace, which reflects a U.S.-centered world view, may be extended to the handling of the North Korea nuclear issue, skirting international debate or consensus.
Of course, Iraq and North Korea are different. Russia and China, which retain nuclear weapons, will act as guardians of North Korea and will apply a brake on unilateral military pressure by the United States. There have even been rumors that the United States is considering recognizing North Korea as a nuclear state. North Korea is armed with missiles that can reach South Korea and Japan as well as biological and chemical weapons. All that South Korea has achieved over the last half a century, let alone United States forces in Korea, are under North Korea’s military threats. This illustrates the irrationality of a military option to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue.
Will the United States agree with this judgment and find a peaceful solution to North Korea’s nuclear crisis? Lamentably, North Korea so far has tested Washington’s patience with its nuclear gamble. The United States does not seem to be willing to accept a compromise with one of the members of “the axis of evil.” Of course, the ideal would be for both sides to find a neat solution after digesting the results of the Iraq war.
We, however, need to provide for a nightmare scenario. One of the nightmares is a collision between the anti-war and anti-nuclear sides. It is highly likely that forces opposing war on the Korean Peninsula can co-exist with forces opposing a nuclear-armed North Korea. When the North Korea nuclear crisis reaches the limit, we may have to face the choice between anti-war and anti-nuclear. If we choose against war on the Korean Peninsular, we may have to accept a nuclear-armed North Korea by siding with anti-Americanism.
Only if we prevent the collision of anti-war forces and anti-nuclear forces, will we be able to solve the North Korea nuclear issue and revive the Korea-U.S. alliance.
* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kil Jeong-woo