[TODAY]Capitalist peace for the North

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[TODAY]Capitalist peace for the North

The philosophical basis of the Bush Administration’s foreign policy ― to prevent wars by spreading democracy ― can be traced back to 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant. He thought republics were less hostile than other forms of political systems. When the Bush administration decided to strike Iraq, they had the big picture of bringing peace to the Middle East by toppling Saddam Hussein from his autocratic leadership and bringing democracy to Iraq, then spreading democracy all over the Islamic Arab world.
However, the democratic peace theory of President Bush is challenged by the theory of capitalist peace or peace through markets. Columbia University professor Erik Gartzke claims that democracy is a desirable system but considering it as making a direct contribution to international peace is a mirage. Based on research and investigation, he argues that the correlation between economic freedom and peace is 50 times more relevant than the correlation between democracy and peace, and points out that countries enjoying a high level of economic freedom are less likely to get involved in wars, just as Charles de Montesquieu and Adam Smith had earlier predicted.
The North Korean policy of the Bush administration is based on the democratic peace theory. At least during its first term, the Bush administration put more emphasis on changing the regime in North Korea. The Bush doctrine of preemptive strikes on nuclear facilities in North Korea was included as a means to realize regime change in the North. In the administration’s second term, the goal of regime change has been dialed down to transformation of the regime. However, President Bush’s prophetic sense of duty to make North Korea a democratic nation respecting human rights and to eliminate the security threat to America and its allies remains unchanged. Chilling comments such as “axis of evil,” “outpost of tyranny” and “criminal regime” cannot be accidental.
According to the capitalist peace theory, the best, and maybe the only, way to resolve the nuclear tension and encourage Pyongyang to open and reform is to assist North Korea to turn to a free market economy. The sunshine policy of the Kim Dae-jung administration and the peaceful economy of the Roh Moo-hyun administration are close to the capitalist peace theory. However, as long as Washington’s North Korean policy is based on peace through democracy, the sunshine or peaceful economy policies are limited.
When Chairman of the North Korean National Defense Commi-ssion Kim Jong-il visited Guangzhou and Shenzhen in China, he virtually announced to the world that Pyongyang has a special interest in a Chinese-style socialist market economy. It is a good sign and, at the same time, an opportunity. What distinguishes the Chinese-style market economy is that China maintains its one-party dictatorship while adopting elements of a market economy as much as possible. Mr. Kim must have thought he could try growing the flowers of the market economy from the iron tree of his communist party. However, it will take an enormous amount of money to change the North Korean economy into a market economy. If it weren’t for the investments of Chinese living overseas, which are estimated to total about $400 billion, China’s reform and market opening might not have been so successful.
Pyongyang does not have North Koreans living abroad who can invest in the North, aside from the pro-North Korean residents in Japan. North Korea has to rely on the aid of South Korea, the United States, Japan, China and international fin-ancial organizations. In order to attract their investments, Pyongyang has to eliminate its nuclear obstacle. However, the six-party talks are in deadlock, due to Washington’s fin-ancial sanctions on North Korea. Unless the counterfeit dollar issue is dealt with, resumption of the six-party meeting is a remote possibility.
At a summit meeting between Japan and North Korea in September 2002, Pyongyang concluded that some rogues unrelated to the North Korean government were responsible for the abduction of Japanese citizens. While resistance by the U.S. Treasury Department and Depart-ment of Justice is expected, Washington could consider closing the counterfeit dollar affair at the level of an individual crime, instead of reiterating the state involvement of North Korea, following the settlement between Tokyo and Pyongyang.
Guangzhou and Shenzhen led the reform and opening of the Chinese economy. Considering the stalemate of the six-party talks, it is promising that Chairman Kim voluntarily visited the two cities and said he was greatly impressed. Mr. Kim and Chinese President Hu Jintao confirmed that the six-party talks are the best possible option to resolve the nuclear crisis. Mr. Kim expressed his will to reform the North Korean economy into a socialist market economy. The rest of the members of the six-party talks should stand on the side of capitalist peace instead of democratic peace and propose a plan to satisfy such conditions to North Korea.

* The writer is an adviser and senior columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Young-hie
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