[OUTLOOK]A long-anticipated documentThe “participatory government” has announced its plan for a national security policy. This is actually a policy paper on national security strategy. “National security strategy” refers to a nation’s consistent security system under which all elements of national power in all fields, including politics, economics, diplomacy, military affairs and information, are concentrated and used to achieve national goals.
Since former President Park Chung Hee, who advocated self-reliance in national defense, published “The Basic Policy Paper on National Safety and Security” in 1970, we have waited 34 years to see another paper on security strategy. During the Cold War, Japan was criticized for pursuing only its economic interest without any national security strategy, despite the fact that it was the world’s second-largest economy. But since the Cold War ended, Japan has advocated joint leadership in East Asia along with the United States, and has faithfully developed a national security strategy.
Although Korea has become the world’s 11th-largest economy, it has gone more than 30 years without developing a national security strategy. Past presidents took pride in being “economic presidents” while relying on the United States for diplomacy and security. This is like a basketball team relying on a single tall player. Only for economic development did these presidents mobilize national power in politics, foreign and military affairs and information.
A basketball team relying on a single star is bound to be defeated by a team that capitalizes on all five players. Likewise, we lag behind in international competition because, despite our national growth, we have no national strategy to integrate and utilize all sectors, including politics, diplomacy and economics. Because of this, the basic national policy, which should be rewritten every five years in the military area, had to refer to national objectives drawn up in 1970.
The “sunshine policy” attempted to coordinate national strength in foreign affairs, security and unification, but fell short of being a strategic conception that could contain all of Korea’s capabilities. As inter-Korean relations improved, the South Korea-U.S. alliance, domestic opinion and foreign policy began to clash. Despite its policy of pursuing security and cooperation simultaneously, the contradiction between military and unification policies, regrettably, remained unsolved.
Now that the national security strategy has been officially announced, we can coordinate and use our integrated national power in all of the above-mentioned areas properly. The ministries of foreign affairs, national defense, information, unification and economy can cooperate to accomplish national goals. We have high expectations for the strategy paper, because it was published after a secretariat team of the National Security Council collected opinions from every sector for eight months.
This paper on security strategy emphasizes the expansion of liberal democracy and human rights as national goals. Consequently, it will settle the controversy over our national identity and goals concerning the North Korean policy. Because it offers a way to pursue the South Korea-U.S. alliance and independent national defense side by side, the strategy will resolve the controversy between the “pro-independence” and “pro-alliance” camps.
The paper says that, according to the progress of the North’s nuclear problem, the present six-way talks should be developed into a framework of Northeast Asian security talks, and it declares that Korea pursues international cooperation from all directions. It stresses the establishment of inter-Korean military trust and the pursuit of arms control, along with independent military capacities. This is close to a two-pronged strategy, pursuing both military reinforcement in preparation for a military threat from North Korea and threat reduction through dialogue with the North. Remarkably, it elevates arms control policy to the level of a national strategy to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula.
If I find fault at all, it is with the fact that this paper was published in the name of the NSC standing committee, and announced by a security advisor in a press interview. In developed countries, such papers are published in the name of the president and, in many cases, announced in a presidential speech at a national defense university, often the country’s finest educational institution dealing with national security. President George W. Bush used to visit the U. S. National Defense University to announce new security policies. It would have been better if this paper had been unveiled at Korea National Defense University after the president ― the chairman of the NSC, as prescribed in our constitution ― had signed it.
Also, wouldn’t it have been a more complete document had it discerned the obstacles to implementing various policies, and suggested solutions to them? Can a spoonful of rice fill one’s stomach? But I expect that this national security strategy will be carried out properly, so that our country may advance into first-rate nation status, both in name and in reality.
* The writer is a professor at Korea National Defense University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Han Yong-sup