“Park’s Beijing summit will be time to reassess US alliance addiction” – Editorial [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레]

“US alliance addiction” — that’s an interesting euphemism for a state being an militarily-occupied US puppet.

I’m also posting this for the anecdotal information it contains about “…Deng Yuwen, a deputy editor of the official journal of the Chinese Community Party’s Central Party School who lost his job over a recent Financial Times piece in which he urged Beijing to ‘abandon North Korea,’…” — Zuo Shou

* South Korea’s alliance with the US is of course important, but shouldn’t be allowed to hinder other policy objectives *

By Kim Ji-seok, editorial writer

May 21, 2013

President Park Geun-hye is planning to have a summit soon with Chinese President Xi Jinping. This comes after her May 7 summit in Washington with US President Barack Obama. This is a pivotal moment where the contours of the Park administration’s foreign policy are taking shape. Attention needs to focus on the current state of the South Korea-US alliance [sic].

To date, Park has made three public statements on Washington’s “rebalancing to Asia” approach. In her opening remarks at a press conference after the May 7 summit, she said the US policy would “combine with my own vision for cooperation on peace in Northeast Asia to produce synergy in the region’s peace and development.” Addressing US Congress on May 8, she said the two countries’ free trade agreement (KORUS FTA) was becoming a “central pillar to the pivot to Asia’ policy.” She also went on to reiterate in the same speech that her vision for would “produce synergy with President Obama’s policy of rebalancing to Asia policy in that it would contribute to the peace and shared development of the region with a footing in the South Korea-US alliance.”

The Obama administration’s “rebalancing to Asia” approach, which has been in full effect since autumn 2011, has three main components to it. The first is a repositioning of military power. To this end, the country is stepping up its military cooperation [sic] – not just in places like South Korea and Japan, which already host large US military bases, but with other countries like the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Australia, New Zealand, and India. The second is an integrated regional approach. This includes pushing for a Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP) uniting every player except China, and having Obama attend summits with East Asian leaders. Finally, the US is looking to extend its maritime access rights as far as India and other South Asian countries through linkages with the West Pacific and East Asia.

Tom Donilon, White House National Security Advisor, said the ultimate goal of the policy is to advance US interests by supporting the establishment of norms and rules in the Asia-Pacific region. The gist of it involves expanding the country‘s presence to maintain and extend dominance amid the rapid rise of the region’s economies, particularly China’s. Ironically, the regional threat [sic] of North [sic] Korea provides a powerful motivation. It fits entirely with the policy to have sophisticated, strategic weaponry repeatedly showing up in South Korea-US combined military exercises.

And Beijing has every reason to feel nervous. Indeed, this very policy is lurking behind the rising tensions between China and other countries over places like the Diaoyu (Senkaku) and Nansha (Spratly) Islands. It is also what has spurred the country on in beefing up its own military capabilities with aircraft carriers and the like.

There’s nothing to be done [??] about US super dominance in the region, but China’s rise is also inescapable. Unless South Korea is interested in having frictions with China, it has no reason to let itself get pulled too deeply into Washington’s policy. When President Park talks about being a “central pillar” of the policy, she is putting the US at the center of her thinking.

This “alliance addiction” [sic] defines nearly every aspect of Seoul’s foreign policy. After the two leaders’ summit, Obama said that as part of their shared vision they would “invest in the shared capabilities and technologies and missile defenses that allow our forces to operate and succeed together.” If this is the case, then South Korea’s own missile defense system has already been integrated into that of the US, which targets China, Russia, and North Korea.

The addiction is severely limiting Seoul’s room to maneuver its North Korea policy. The more Washington pushes its rebalancing policy, the less motivation we have to commit our energies to the North Korea issue; issues with Pyongyang cannot be resolved without the US actively moving on dialogue. Yet Park appeared to willingly agree to Obama’s policy of “strategic patience” (i.e., neglect), which she characterized as a “point of agreement between South Korea and the US” and “strengthening of the alliance.”

Deng Yuwen, a deputy editor of the official journal of the Chinese Community Party’s Central Party School who lost his job over a recent Financial Times piece in which he urged Beijing to “abandon North Korea,” pointed to three conditions for Korean reunification where China could see eye to eye with South Korea and the US, namely denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the withdrawal of US troops, and a ban on retaliation against the leadership in Pyongyang. This may be the most China would be willing to accept. Beijing is unlikely to cooperate actively on peninsula issues without some major compromise with the US and changes in approach from Washington and Seoul.

As important as the South Korea-US alliance [sic] may be, it is only a means to an end. Rather than exalting it, we need to be on guard against its excesses. The upcoming South Korea-China talks should be an occasion for shaking off some of the excesses of the alliance addiction and finding a new sense of balance.

Edited by Zuo Shou

Article link: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_editorial/588351.html


The views presented in this column are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Hankyoreh


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