A future full of risk

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A future full of risk

 With millions of votes not fully counted yet, there was no clear winner of the U.S. presidential election by the end of Election Day, Nov. 3. Yet President Donald Trump has declared a victory and threatened to stop vote counting. In reaction, Democratic candidate Joe Biden refuted Trump’s claims by stressing that it is too early to declare a victory. The 2020 race could trigger physical clashes between Trump supporters and Biden supporters.

If the superpower shakes, global security and the economy will shake. For South Korea, it poses a serious challenge as the country needs the United States to address the nuclear threats from North Korea. As Trump has unilaterally declared his victory despite all preliminary votes not being counted, the election could be headed into chaos. No one can rule out the possibility that a winner of the election is determined by U.S. federal courts.

If such a precarious situation continues, the U.S. government could be paralyzed, rendering it unable to effectively deal with an emergency at home or abroad. North Korea has conducted military provocations during transitional periods in America to have the upper hand in negotiations with Washington. Many security experts predict a new missile test in North Korea early next year. The United States can hardly address such uncertainties until a final winner is declared. The Moon Jae-in administration must be prepared for any provocations from North Korea in case Washington is not fully prepared for that.

South Korea faces a plethora of challenges from the ongoing negotiations to fix its share of defense costs, receive wartime operational control from the United States and get help from Washington on the appointment of the head of the World Trade Organization. Another challenge involves how to deal with mounting pressure from Washington and Beijing to draw Seoul to their side. Not only Trump, but Biden also emphasized a strong reaction to China. Both leaders consider China’s dramatic growth to be a serious security threat despite Trump’s trade focus and Biden’s underscoring of human rights issues.

The United States will most likely reinforce its efforts to contain China based on its alliance, and it expects a bigger role from South Korea in putting the brakes on China’s rise. If a military clash should occur in the South China Sea, for instance, the United States will demand South Korea take its side. China also will demand Seoul to support Beijing, based on its economic leverage over South Korea. As seen in Beijing’s reaction to the deployment of the U.S.-led Thaad antimissile system in South Korea, China will certainly retaliate economically against South Korea. The Moon administration must get ready for all the risks before it’s too late.

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