Who do you support?
The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
A businessman I have come to know has hopes for his idled joint-venture business with a Chinese partner in a border area between China and North Korea. He anticipates his once-lucrative business will pick up if President Donald Trump wins a second term. He had worked hard to build a business network on North Korea. “No matter how bad he is as a president, I hope he wins,” he said, as he believes Trump is the only man who can break the ice with North Korea through a tete-a-tete with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. He shares beliefs that the stalemated talks between the United States and North Korea and inter-Korean relationships will achieve a breakthrough once Trump gains another four-year term.
A business acquaintance in the Middle East has his fingers crossed for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. His business in Iran received a heavy blow after Trump walked away from the Iranian nuclear package signed by Washington and other global powers. Many on this side of the world also are closely watching the U.S. presidential election results.
The most intent watchers could be the leaders of the two Koreas. Lee Soo-hyuck, South Korean ambassador to the United States, betrayed concerns in Seoul by saying that if Biden wins, “the top-down approach of the last four years won’t be sustained.” But personal thoughts of Koreans are meaningless. What’s important is to devise actions upon various scenarios.
It’s necessary to envision both the big and small picture. The vote first would be on whether to extend Trump’s “America First” policy. The world has become more confused and disorderly with Trump at the helm of the world’s most powerful nation over the last four years. Global trade and markets have been on a roller-coaster ride since Trump initiated a trade war with China with a tariff attack.
He pulled the United States out of major international agreements like the Paris Climate Accord and Iranian nuclear deal, which upset the global consensus. He even politicized a pandemic crisis that requires international alliance for a joint battle against Covid-19 for his gain in the conflict with China.
He asks for money from traditional allies. Washington has been pressing for outrageous compensation to keep the American troops in South Korea and even saw the financial benefits of possibly halting the regular U.S.-South Korea joint military drills — a move that would have pleased North Korea immensely. The erratic ways have created a Trump risk factor over the last four years.
He regards the opposition party as an enemy instead of a contestant and attacks any media critical or hostile toward him. He has been dubbed a destroyer of democracy. The U.S. election could be more on for or against Trump, instead of a contest between Republican and Democratic rivals.
We cannot help the results of another country’s election. But we also pray for a less disorderly — and more normal —world where reason prevails and common principles and democratic procedures are valued. We have to raise our voice when necessary to uphold the values.
Universal values should come before the U.S.-China hegemonic struggle and the North Korea-U.S. relationship. Instead of cheering for a certain candidate, we had better ask ourselves what values we prize the most.