[OUTLOOK]Koreas need to find a way outThese days, U.S politicians are emphasizing democracy and human rights while the Russian and Chinese leaders say “The human rights and democracy of a country are related to its culture.” They insist that a country's characteristics be respected.
In the meantime, the United States and China have begun to try to win favor from Russia, India and the central Asian countries for energy security and forming a geographical alliance. Many recent occasions showed this intention; China and Russia had a summit last March and joint military training in August of last year; Chinese President Hu Jintao paid visits to central Asian countries, the central Asian countries' leaders visited China and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev visited Russia and Uzbekistan.
This phenomenon reveals the confrontation of two solidarities, one for democracy and human rights and the other for authoritarian dictatorship.
The democratic solidarity led by the United States includes Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. They are wooing India as well. Meanwhile, Russia and China have been trying to build an authoritarian solidarity with the central Asian countries, which have low standards of democracy and human rights. This side also wants India.
This type of diplomacy to build regional blocks seemed to disappear after the end of the Cold War but it has come back after 16 years, in the name of democracy and human rights. Building such solidarities is deeply connected to energy security and nuclear strategies.
The current governments of the Middle East countries are pro-American and networks are crucial for them to sustain their oil economy. However, they are way below the U.S. standards of democracy and human rights. That is the same with the central Asian countries to whom the world's powers have recently started to pay court.
For energy security, the United States needs to approach Russia and the countries in central Asia and the Middle East. China needs to do the same. But the two nations have totally different policies for those countries when it comes to political values and geographical strategies.
There is a chance that Russia, the Middle East and central Asia will form an alliance on their own. Past statements from Russian president Vladimir Putin point to this possibility. Last March, he argued that the United States should not build a network based on countries’ values. Mr. Putin also complained, “The United States is deliberately trying to delay Russia's entrance into the World Trade Organization.” His remarks revealed concern inside Russia that the United States adopts double standards by treating an economic issue as a political one. Russians believe that the United States has sought to keep Russia in check since Russia began to carry out its independent diplomatic and domestic policies through strengthening its ties with the former Soviet Union countries and China. Eight years ago, the United States approved Russia as a member of the G8 Summit but its current Russia policies are heading in the opposite direction.
Some American hard-liners claim that they should impose a boycott on Russia attending the G8 Summit. Of course, the United States won't collide head-on with Russia yet because it gains more benefit from a loose tie than from a break-up.
The formation of these two major solidarities will have an influence on the Korean Peninsula. Both South and North Korea, which were victims of the Cold War, are now under the influence of this new form of rivalry. The solidarities now only weakly affect the North's nuclear ambitions but before they take tougher actions, the two Koreas need to find a way out. The world should also accelerate the creation of a new vision for reconciliation, coexistence and peace, which will not be driven away by the solidarities.
* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Seok-hwan
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