[OUTLOOK]Security as Bush II begins

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[OUTLOOK]Security as Bush II begins

Americans chose the brave general George W. Bush rather than the wise general John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.
They saw the lion’s bravery rather than the fox’s wisdom as a virtue for the commander in chief in the war against terrorism who could take responsibility for the security of the United States without succumbing to terrorism. But it is also true that in the process of election campaigns, the candidate Kerry’s violent criticism of President Bush aroused a public response at home and abroad. “The Bush administration’s diplomacy of unilateralism based on military power made even its allies turn their back on the United States,” Mr. Kerry said.
President Bush has now the assignment of showing a more refined diplomacy that gathers consensus in the international community.
In this respect, the second-term Bush administration is likely to maintain the keynote of “anti-terrorism” and “anti-proliferation” while attempting to change its diplomatic style in order to appease its allies. Rather than giving unilateral notice about its policy to its allies, the administration will try to show an attitude of consulting with them. But chances are slim that the Bush administration’s change in style will lead to a fundamental change in the strategy itself.
Particularly, it will never compromise with the possibility of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists. When it judges that any threat or attack against the United States is imminent, the administration will continue to take a pre-emptive stance.
The same holds true for the Bush administration’s perception of the North Korean nuclear problem. To prevent North Korean nuclear weapons from spreading to extremists in the Middle East or Central Asia, the Bush administration thinks it the only solution that North Korea should give up its nuclear program and join the international community as a responsible member.
If North Korea refuses the “roadmap” for the resolution of the nuclear problem that the United States suggested in the third six-way talks and sticks to the same position in a fourth round, there is a high possibility of strengthening the positions of the hard-liners in the Bush administration. But this is not to say that the Bush administration will immediately take military action against North Korea.
If Iran’s nuclear ambitions also advance while the situation in Iraq shows no sign of improvement, the Bush administration will have difficulty working on the North Korean nuclear issue intensively.
Perhaps the U.S. administration will refer the North Korean problem to the United Nations Security Council and put pressure on North Korea in stages. As long as North Korea does not show extreme behavior such as exporting nuclear material or nuclear arms, and as long as the concerned parties do not agree that they have exhausted all diplomatic efforts to resolve the problem, there is little possibility that the United States would take military action against the North.
Our government’s stance is most important for a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear problem. The government should make it clear to North Korea that we will never support a temporary solution to the North Korean nuclear problem, such as freezing its nuclear program but not scrapping it. At the same time, our government needs to help North Korea overcome its uncertainty about the future by asking the United States to suggest more concrete measures of compensation in the event that North Korea were willing to give up its nuclear projects.
Except for the North Korean nuclear problem, major current issues regarding South Korea-United States relations are almost solved. The relocation and reduction of U.S. troops stationed in Korea is settled for the time being, and the extension of the Korean troop deployment to Iraq is likely to be solved at the end of this year without difficulty. On those premises, South Korea and the United States will now begin to talk about the future of their bilateral alliance in earnest. Through the Security Policy Initiative, an official consultation body between South Korea and the United States, the two countries will discuss the continuation or discontinuation of their alliance, the status of the U.S. troops in Korea and the division of roles between the two countries when threat from North Korea has disappeared.
For the synergistic effect of SPI, unofficial strategic dialogue is required at the private level too. Specific ideas that came from the private-level strategic dialogue consisting of security experts from both countries should be provided to SPI as an official consultation body. If a specific “vision report” comes from this interactive process and the vision for the South Korea-United States alliance is suggested in the form of a joint statement by the leaders of the two countries when they meet, the relations between South Korea and the United States can make a great deal of progress.

* The writer is a professor and director of research on Americas at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Kim Sung-han
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