[FOUNTAIN]Charm goes farther than military force

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[FOUNTAIN]Charm goes farther than military force

Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa, once praised Britain, which had once colonized his homeland. In Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “The Grand Chessboard,” Mr. Mandela said, “I was brought up in a British school, and at the time, Britain was the home of everything that was best in the world. I have not discarded the influence which Britain and British history and culture exercised on us.”
Mr. Mandela treasured the universal values of spiritual culture that the British nurtured and spread around the world, such as liberty, democracy, honor and tolerance. According to Mr. Brzezinski, an American strategist, Britain considerably saved military expenses needed to maintain its hegemony thanks to the country’s cultural appeal. The charm of values is as important as military power.
Professor Lee Keun of Seoul National University’s Graduate School of International Studies wrote an analysis of the recent Korea-Japan relationship.
Mr. Lee discusses the power of charm and of conceptual values such as public opinion and humanitarian values. The analysis can be found on the Web site of the Korea Institute for Future Strategy, www.kifs.org.
According to Professor Lee, physical power repels charm. Physical power forcibly brings others to surrender while charm makes them voluntarily follow. Charm amounts to leadership.
A country hoping to have leadership status on the regional or global level must not neglect the importance of charm. Physical power without charm only draws hegemonic greed, suspicion and resistance from neighbors.
That’s where the United States and Japan ― arguably the first and second most powerful nations in the world ― differ. While American leaders pursue universal values such as democracy and human rights as its charm, Japanese leaders are attracted to nationalistic values such as territory and history.
If we closely observe the nature of charm, we can use it as a diplomatic resource. We have considered military and economic power as absolute variables in international relations. It has limited Korea’s role to watching and behaving according to the mood of the superpowers all the time. However, we can deviate from claustrophobic thinking. After all, physical power and charm are separate categories.
When Korea, Japan and the United States have a heated debate over values, all three nations need to respect one another in order to preserve military and economic partnerships.


by Chun Young-gi

The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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