[FOUNTAIN]Balancing act with values and allianceWhat kind of world do we dream of? Each individual might have a different vision, but essentially, it would be the world where social justice and order are respected, political liberty and peace are secured and economic prosperity and development are sustained. But does justice always accompany order? In today’s reality, that is not necessarily the case. Especially since the end of the Cold War, justice and order were often out of sync in international politics.
The war against Iraq began as a campaign of justice. The United States justified the strike with alleged concealment of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the harsh despotic rule and human rights infringements under Saddam Hussein. While the United Nations and the international community opposed the strike, based on respect for the national sovereignty of Iraq, Washington pushed the war plan on the grounds that the international community cannot restrict the United States from pursuing a humanitarian cause.
However, Washington has so far failed to produce evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The justification of protecting human rights is fading as well. Aside from the torture and cruelty in Abu Ghraib prison, civil rights groups criticize U.S. forces for the severe retaliation attacks in battles in Fallujah and other regions.
The so-called Bush Doctrine, which says the violation of territorial sovereignty is justified in the greater cause of elevating the overall morality and humanity of mankind, has become a mere verbal sophistry. But we cannot expect Washington to learn from the mistake and respect the ethics and broadmindedness that suit the sole superpower in the world. On the other side of the humanitarian justification was the more realistic cause of national interests.
On the surface, Northeast Asian countries seem to be more mutually dependent and the market economy appears to have become the champion. But Korea, China and Japan are increasingly nationalistic, and authoritarians remain powerful in China, Russia and North Korea.
Korea has defended the values of the Korea-U.S. alliance for the last five decades, but we cannot be sure whether those values will still hold true in the future. We need to integrate the national interest and our alliance more effectively. This is a far more complex challenge than deciding whether China or the United States is more important to Korea.
by Kim Seok-hwan
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.