[GLOBAL EYE]U.S., North on collision courseA newly elected president is bound to keep re-election in mind and a re-elected president is bound to be conscious of history. For this reason, as he began his second term, U.S. President George W. Bush wished to rank among historic presidents, setting as a benchmark former President Woodrow Wilson in foreign policy and former President Franklin D. Roosevelt in domestic policy.
Who was Mr. Wilson? He was the very person who tried to spread across the world the ideals of the United States called freedom and democracy. Mr. Wilson took multilateral organizations, including the League of Nations, or international laws for his policy means. Mr. Bush goes further and is ready to take military action when necessary.
Mr. Bush is a kind of hardline Wilsonian. He listed “outposts of tyranny” where the expansion of freedom was necessary and counted even China and Russia among countries where the great interests of the United States were at stake but people did not enjoy democracy.
In this regard, the expression of the “revolution of foreign policy” is not unreasonable. Mr. Bush’s declaration to end tyranny reminds us of Napoleon Bonaparte who attempted to spread liberty, fraternity and equality throughout the European continent at the end of the 18th century.
Under the great strategy of so-called global democracy, the “Sharansky formula” is in the spotlight as its means of practice. Natan (Anatole) Sharansky is a former Soviet dissident and naturalized Israeli politician.
It is rumored that President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice avidly read “The Case for Democracy” in which Mr. Sharansky wrote about his experiences during the democratization of the former Soviet Union. Mr. Bush invited him to the White House and adopted his book after a long discussion as a model plan for democratization of Middle Eastern countries.
The first step of Mr. Sharansky’s formula is to remove the tyrant. A society under a tyrant is panic-stricken and can’t make compromise with the outside world. By removing the tyrant first, people’s freedom can be expanded. Early general elections prior to the establishment of the rule of law and citizens’ freedom runs high risk of prolonging tyranny or the emergence of a puppet government.
Elections should be carried out when freedom can be institutionalized through elections after the panic-stricken society collapses and freedom expands. The next step is to encourage people of other countries to achieve freedom and break down barriers.
According to this formula, the general elections in Afghanistan and Iraq were too early. But its positive effect was that the ousting of Saddam Hussein encouraged Afghanistan to be democratized and Ukraine’s presidential re-election encouraged Iraqi voters.
There are open talks that this formula should be applied to democratic reforms in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
There is no guarantee that the elimination of a regime will result in a better regime. Germany and Japan, losers in the war, were success cases but the overthrow of the Shah government in Iran was a failure. Ending the tyranny in Iran and North Korea is all the more complicated because of the nuclear problem.
In the case of North Korea, the “regime change” can, due to the monolithic nature of its society and concentration of power to one man, lead to the collapse of the regime, breakdown of the system and the extinction of the country.
It is a matter of life or death to the North Korean regime. North Korea’s declaration that it will indefinitely boycott the six-party disarmament talks goes beyond a simple negotiation strategy.
To make matters worse, warnings come endlessly that neo-liberal globalization plunges to “neo-liberal imperialism” by gathering momentum from the unilateral power of the United States. Under the name of free market, free trade and democratic capitalism, the other countries are under pressure to accept global standards through the opening of markets, restructuring and financial regulations.
The problem is that Mr. Bush firmly believes that he is on the right side of history. Ending the tyranny is a far more realistic strategy than naming the “axis of evil.” The nuclear trains of the United States and North Korea are headed toward each other.
* The writer is the editor in chief of the monthly publication NEXT. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Byun Sang-keun