[NOTEBOOK]Bush now atop a wall of fear

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[NOTEBOOK]Bush now atop a wall of fear

The wall of Sept. 11 was too high for John Kerry. Sept. 11 was the wall of the American society’s conservatism and fear. It was the wall of anxious Americans worried that faceless terrorists could again attack their homeland. That is why they chose an aggressive leader like George W. Bush, who, as president, would not hesitate to launch preemptive attacks at potential enemies, with or without international support.
Mr. Kerry’s claim that the war in Iraq was a policy mistake by Mr. Bush seemed reasonable. Even the U.S. arms inspection team that Mr. Bush commissioned concluded there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the reason Mr. Bush had given for attacking the Middle Eastern nation. In short, President Bush had gone to war in Iraq based on misguided reports by government agencies. Mr. Kerry repeatedly pointed this out throughout his campaign and had seemed to attract public support. However, the Americans decided not to change horses while crossing the river. In short, they opted for the same president while the war continues. That is how Mr. Kerry, despite the fact that more than 1,000 U.S. soldiers have died so far in this war, could not win the presidency.
Moreover, unlike the 2000 U.S. election when Al Gore, the Democratic candidate, won 500,000 more votes than Mr. Bush and still lost, this time Mr. Kerry received 3.8 million votes fewer than Mr. Bush.
When the vote count ends in Ohio and President Bush’s re-election is confirmed, it is most certain that he will take it as a national referendum that gives him the go-ahead fight on in Iraq. He will take the votes as public support for his unilateral foreign policies, the war in Iraq and the war against terrorism.
If so, the United States could end up stuck for a long time in Iraqi without an exit. Had Mr. Kerry won, the United States could have counted on the backing of Germany and France by giving up its monopoly over Iraqi oil supplies and its dominating of large-scale project contracts related to the rebuilding of Iraq.
Mr. Bush’s re-election has put a damper on hopes of reconciliation between the United States and Europe and the participation of the European countries in a peaceful stabilization of Iraq.
The influence of the neo-conservative foreign policymakers who lead the hard-line movement of unilateralism in the Bush administration is expected to gain momentum from the election victory. In addition, the resignation of Secretary of State Colin Powell, who represents the moderates in the administration, is expected and this puts prospects about the North Korean nuclear issue even more in the dark. The Bush administration is more likely to toughen its stance against Pyeongyang than try to ratchet down the tension.
It will be interesting to see to how North Korea reacts in its disappointment that John Kerry lost. South Korea’s foremost priority is to stop North Korea from pushing forward with its nuclear program. For this, the South Korean government must send representatives on shuttle missions between Washington and Pyeongyang and use all means to mediate between the two.

* The writer is a senior columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Young-hie
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