[Outlook]Roh’s ticking clock

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[Outlook]Roh’s ticking clock

Desiderius Erasmus (1466~1536), a Dutch humanist during the Renaissance, was the first person who theorized peace in modern times. He suggested nine methods to prevent wars from breaking out. One was to buy peace if need be. That is a peace theory based on capitalism. His capitalistic peace theory was formed more than 200 years before a peace theory by Kant (1724~1804). In his perpetual peace theory, Kant asserted that countries with republican systems, democracies in today’s terms, do not wage war against each other.
George. W. Bush tried and failed to implement the democratic peace theory in Iraq. To be more precise, he instituted a hegemonic peace theory disguised as a democratic peace theory. President Bush and neo-conservatives attacked Iraq in the belief that if U.S.-style democracy is transplanted in Iraq, peace will come to the country and the Middle East region. But peace is nowhere to be seen, and the United States is in deep trouble.
During his first term in office, President Bush stuck to a hard-line North Korea policy, something close to the hegemonic peace theory he was trying in Iraq. He believed that collapsing Kim Jong-il’s regime, part of the “axis of evil,” would liberate North Koreans from despotic rule and starvation and bring peace to the Korean Peninsula and the Northeast Asian region. Bush pursued the “Pax Americana” by America and for America.
Bush’s peace theory based on strength gave rise to North Korea’s nuclear test. President Bush admitted his failure and accepted the U.S.-North Korea dialogue that the communist regime wanted. The transformation in Washington’s North Korea policy led to the Sep. 19 joint declaration and the Feb. 13 agreement and made Kim Jong-il accept a proposal for a second inter-Korean summit.
Erasmus’s capitalistic peace theory posits that countries at similar levels of economic development minimize the threat of war by increasing their interdependency. But in relations between countries with economic discrepancies, such as South and North Korea, North Korea and the United States and North Korea and Japan, the richer countries can open their wallets and help the poorer country develop its economy in order to soothe its bellicose character.
However, as North Korea thinks Washington’s North Korea policy is aimed at its collapse, it attempts to secure its regime through nuclear armament. This renders economic aid to North Korea a necessary condition but not a sufficient one to bring peace. Discussion of a peace regime is also needed.
The North Korea policy of the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations had been to buy peace with money.
They add a sentimental factor, emphasizing that North Koreans are also Korean nationals.
The Oct. 4 joint declaration produced at the summit meeting between President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il makes provisions for an area in the Yellow Sea for peace and cooperation, repairing of roads and railways between Kaesong and Pyongyang and between Kaesong and Sinuiju.
That can be summed up as South Korea offering huge amounts of money to the North. Using that money, South Korea tries to buy North Korea’s denuclearization, but the South Korean government is unskilled, impatient and irresponsible as a negotiator.
In negotiating for peace, the Northern Limit Line is one of the South’s most valuable bargaining chips. But the South Korean president and the unification minister say it is not a border, revealing their intention to give it up. The same is true of a declaration to end the Korean War. It is not good bargaining for the Blue House to discuss the issue before the denuclearization process reaches an extent that convinces us the North is serious about giving up its nuclear weapons. The government cannot negotiate effectively if they give up all their bargaining chips.
Whether the negotiation for peace will succeed or fail depends on North Korea’s nuclear weapons. But President Roh refuses to say specifically how Kim Jong-il agreed to give up his nuclear ambitions.
The people do not ask him to publicize all the details of the summit, but to reveal part of it so that they can get a general understanding of the meeting.
As the president’s term is nearing its end, his time accelerates and runs like a torrent. He must prioritize the changes that he can affect within his term and must pass other important but non-urgent issues to the next administration.
He signed an agreement with North Korea, shut down pressrooms in government offices and drove stakes in industrial zones.
He has a bizarre sense of time. For Roh, it seems to run backwards so persistently that no one without superpowers can make it move forward again.
If he wants to negotiate for peace with a sober and clear mind, he must forget the euphoria he experienced at the Baekhwawon State Guest House in North Korea.

*The writer is a senior columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Young-hie
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