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PFO 01-03A: March 21, 2001
This essay is by Peter M. Beck, Director of Research and Academic Affairs at the Korea Economic Institute of America, and was originally published in the ROK daily Hankyoreh Shinmun on March 16. This is the first in a series on the debate over missile defense in Asia.
Beck states that US President George Bush, while he is spending tens of billions of dollars on a missile program that does not work, is also calling for a massive tax cut that will lead to cuts in social welfare and infrastructure spending. Beck argues that NMD would only alienate America's allies and encourage China and Russia to devote more resources to defense and push them to become enemies of the United States. He concludes that NMD represents a huge mistake for the US and the Korean Peninsula, and South Korea must help the Bush team reject NMD.
Ever since President Kim Dae-jung signed the joint communiqué with Russian President Vladimir Putin suggesting that the South opposed the Bush Administration's proposal for a national missile defense (NMD), South Korean authorities have been scrambling to reassure their American counterparts that Seoul supports NMD.
However, unlike British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who unexpectedly received Bush's support for a European rapid-reaction force in exchange for lending his support for NMD when the two met for the first time last month, President Kim's loyalty was rewarded by being informed that the Bush team intended to get tough with North Korea, potentially undermining Kim's three-year struggle to engage the North. President Kim would be forgiven if he walked away from his first meeting with Bush thinking, "With friends like this, who needs enemies?" This foreign policy setback may actually provide an opportunity for South Korea to fully consider whether NMD (and its younger brother TMD) would promote peace or raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The Folly of NMD:
NMD does not work:
Guns or Butter?:
Missile Defense and the Korean Peninsula:
On the eve of the Bush-Kim summit, the Clinton Administration's point person for North Korea, Wendy Sherman, told a gathering of Korea watchers in Washington that engaging North Korea and pursuing NMD were mutually compatible. But to claim that North Korea would simply ignore a multi-billion dollar missile system directed against it is at best naive and at worst disingenuous. Pursuit of NMD will only make negotiations with North Korea more difficult and raise tensions on the Peninsula while at the same time failing to provide even a modicum of added security for the South Korean people.
The era of sadaejueui has long passed. South Korea and the United States are increasingly equal partners, with a friendship forged in the blood of the Korean War. A true friend has a responsibility to candidly say when a friend is making a mistake. NMD represents a huge mistake for the United States and the Korean Peninsula. Koreans would do well not to lose their voices at such a critical time. South Korea must help the Bush team come to its senses and reject NMD. The sooner this happens, but better off the Korean Peninsula (not to mention the world) will be.
(The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of KEI.)
Copyright (c) 2001 Nautilus of America/The Nautilus Institute
The Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network invites your responses to this essay. Please send responses to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Responses will be considered for redistribution to the network only if they include the author's name, affiliation, and explicit consent.
Northeast Asia Peace and Security Project (NAPSNet@nautilus.org)
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