[INSIGHT]To stop war threat takes courage“I asked Pirhasin, the youngest guy, if he were afraid of entering Baghdad. Wiping away tears, Pirhasin talked in a low voice but with a determined attitude. “I am a son of war. In the year when I was born, there was a war with Iran. At 12, the Gulf War broke out. Air-raid warning sirens were the music of my youth, and I grew up with missiles falling around me. Now I am settled down in a foreign country, and again another war begins. Though my life is filled with wars, I cannot surrender to an unjust invasion.”
Park No-hae, a Korean poet who left for Iraq a week ago, sent “Letters from the field” through the Internet. The dialogue between the poet and the youth who got on a bus bound for Baghdad at a terminal in Jordan in order to defend his country suggests vividly that this war is unjustifiable and causeless.
If I were in an Iraqi’s shoes, I would say the same words. The cause of the U.S. attack on Iraq is weak. So many people around the world are staging anti-war demonstrations. But is there any war with a good cause? There is no good war in the world. War is evil and a crime. We’ve already gone through such vivid experiences witnessing this fact.
“June 25. It was a Sunday. On that day, a play starring Jeon Ok, an actress and the ‘Queen of tears,’ was stopped during its run at Gukdo Theater in Seoul and a student athletic meet, held in Seoul stadium, was unexpectedly suspended at 2 p.m. On the following day, Seoul residents began to recognize the war as long lines of refugees rushed for the capital. And the humdrum lives of Seoul citizens started crumbling.” (From “A Social History of the Korean War” by Jeon Sang-in)
“A Market and a Battle-field,” a novel written by Park Kyung-ree soon after Seoul had recovered, depicted the street scene of Noryangjin, now a fish market, like this: “Battered houses on both sides of the street, cheap restaurants patronized by day laborers, ripped canopies of real estate agencies fluttering in the breeze. The street, which looked like an old man who has lost his memory, was nearly smashed, and was only a corpse now. No one cried for the broken street.”
The war had been prolonged for three years, not three months, and during that time millions of people from the same nation were trying to kill each other.
A war is a tool of politics. Wrong politics can give birth to a war. Politics exists in order to prevent a war. When politics tries to break through a bad situation with a war, the war becomes a crime, beyond the evaluation of good and evil. Whatever the cause -- for national liberation, unification, elimination of an axis of evil or creation of a holy war ― no war can be justified by slogans, which all have political purposes.
Now we are engaging in fierce debates over a bill to dispatch noncombat troops to the war in Iraq. But we are obsessed with a false thought prohibiting us from acknowledging the imminent war threats against us. As we try to judge a war with a ruler of good or evil and by ideology, we fail to notice war threats around us.
Some reports say that North Korea has two or three nuclear bombs. It is clear that war threatens us, whether it is for negotiation purposes or for regime security purposes. If North Korea reprocesses 8,000 used nuclear fuel rods and produces three or four nuclear bombs, military threats will be amplified.
In this critical point when we face obvious threats of war, we find ourselves indulged in ideological disputes, dividing into two groups -- pro-North and anti-North, left and right, pro-war and pro-peace. Good politics will prevent and get rid of threats through negotiations, not through military power, by forming alliances with neighboring nations. Once two countries confronting each other lose a balance of power, a war will break out. The United States assumed the hegemony of the world order after the Soviet Union collapsed because the balance of power broke. When North Korea judged it had attained military dominance, it invaded South Korea in 1950. In order to retain a balance of power, U.S. forces need to remain in Seoul. In order to solve North Korea’s nuclear crisis through peaceful negotiations, not through military actions, the Korean-U.S. alliance and multilateral negotiations are necessary. To consolidate the Korean-U.S. alliance, it is inevitable to dispatch troops to the Iraq war.
President Roh Moo-hyun chose an inevitable option of dispatching troops to Iraq. The option should be considered as a means to eliminate war threats against us for the sake of our nation’s interest, not as a participation in a causeless war.
To stop any threats of war against us, to put an end to the war in Iraq as soon as possible so as to minimize the victims of that war, takes genuine courage. The National Human Rights Commission issued an anti-war statement and the opposition Grand National Party, the majority in the National Assembly, seems to flinch from approving the dispatch bill.
Such cowardice is bad politics -- diffusing a war and enticing a war. The Korean War was the disastrous result brought by North Korea’s misjudgment because South Korea was indulged in ideological disputes, not looking at real threats of war at the time. We have forgotten an important historical lesson.
* The writer is executive editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kwon Young-bin