[OUTLOOK]Bush or Kerry will test NorthThe U.S. presidential election is two weeks away. This election has a particularly important significance to Americans because it is the first presidential election to be held during the war on terrorism, which actually amounts to the third World War.
Just as Koreans cannot forget June 25, 1950, the day of the outbreak of the tragic fratricidal war, so would Americans never forget Dec. 7, 1941, the day of a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, or Sept.11, 2001, the day of the terrorist attacks that prompted the war on terrorism.
The 2,400 victims of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor were U.S. soldiers, but the 3,000 innocent victims of the terrorist attacks were ordinary citizens and children who were peacefully going to work or school or on a trip by airplane. This is why Americans resent even more the terrorist attacks than the Pearl Harbor attack.
As such, Americans think that the U.S. soldiers and intelligence agents now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are performing an important duty that will determine the fate of their country, just like the U.S. troops who fought in the Pacific Ocean and Europe in World War II.
The history of mankind shows that when a nation is unjustly taken by surprise by another country, the people under attack try to repulse the invaders by all means.
We also know from history books, the Bible and legends that when the most powerful nation is attacked, it responds in a fury against the invaders, often killing indiscriminately suspected enemies.
To understand the United States properly after the Sept. 11 attacks, we should look back on the struggles for survival by various tribes throughout the history of mankind.
Today, it is said that we live in the 21st century in a globalized age symbolized by jet airplanes, the Internet and 24-hour news. But when a country faces a mortal challenge to its fundamental existence or way of life from outside, it is bound to return to aggression arising from the instinct for life from the time man appeared on the earth.
Likewise, the United States and Americans fighting against terrorism are wrought up in instinctive self-defense for their survival. Therefore, it is obvious that regardless of who is elected president on Nov. 2, the U.S. war on terrorism will go on.
During the presidential campaigns, the world, including North Korea, came to know clearly that a sure bond of sympathy was formed between the two candidates, George W. Bush and John Kerry:
Both candidates will not hesitate to take preemptive attacks to protect the United States from terrorist organizations. And the greatest security concern of the United States is the possibility of terrorists getting their hands on weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms.
During their debates Mr. Bush agreed tacitly with Mr. Kerry’s argument that North Korea already had nuclear weapons. Not only that, Mr. Bush did not deny Mr. Kerry’s further assertion that the U.S. government was already developing special nuclear weapons that could destroy deep underground bunkers that cannot be attacked with conventional weapons.
Special nuclear weapons for destroying deep underground bunkers drew the world’s attention for the first time in 1996. At that time, former President Clinton, who had information that Libya was secretly constructing chemical weapons plants in a deep cave dissuaded Muammar Gaddafi from building the plants by suggesting the U.S. might use the special weapons.
Considering the fact that the U.S. administration has accelerated its effort to develop these nuclear weapons since 2002 after the terrorist attacks, we cannot help being seriously concerned about the security situation on the Korean Peninsula.
The U.S. leadership is now obsessed with the idea that the North Korean nuclear problem should be resolved quickly to prevent a disaster. In this grim reality in which the United States is waging the war on terrorism staking the fate of the nation, I wonder if the North Korean leadership knows that its Cold War-style brinkmanship diplomacy will no longer work.
After the election, the United States is sure to turn its focus of the war on terrorism to the North Korean nuclear problem. Therefore, the governing and opposition parties, the government and the people should all be completely united to cope wisely with the approaching crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
* The writer is a professor of finance at George Washington University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Park Yoon-shik