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Military option should not be off the table

2024-07-23 05:10:33      点击:618
Credible threat of use of force is important in diplomatic efforts

By Kim Jae-kyoung

Tara O
Tara O
The United States and South Korea should not take a military option off the table because doing so will weaken diplomatic options, according to Tara O, an adjunct fellow at the Pacific Forum CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies).

She believes that a peaceful resolution is important to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis but it is not the time to declare dialogue as a top priority, given Pyongyang's continued provocations.

"The term peace is intoxicating. Who doesn't like peace? Who likes war?" O said in a recent interview.

"But to use peace here means taking the military option off the table, and that only emboldens Kim Jong-un, and I can't really suggest we do that," she added.

Her answer came in response to a question on how to find a peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis amid rising tension caused by bombastic rhetoric both from Washington and Pyongyang.

O, the author of "Collapse of North Korea: Challenges, Planning and Geopolitics of Korean Unification," said that without military options on hand, other approaches, such as diplomacy, won't be effective.

"I'd like to note that a credible threat of the use of force is important in diplomatic and other efforts, because the other side needs to believe that there's a worse option and opt to take the less worse one," she said.

"So taking the military option off the table weakens other approaches."

The retired U.S. Air Force officer, who worked on numerous assignments in Asia, Europe, and the U.S., including the Pentagon and U.S.-South Korea Combined Forces Command, expects that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un won't give up his nuclear weapons.

And she thinks that it is too late for any multilateral approach, such as six-party talks or something similar

"Not only has it (the North) stated that it will not give up nukes, but it wants nukes so that it can threaten the U.S. out of South Korea," she said.

"South Korea is its goal, so it will not give up nukes unless it's put in a situation where it has to or denuked by force," she added. "I am against the idea of freezing South Korea-U.S. exercises for freezing North Korea's nukes."

The former editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Korean Studies said that South Korea should make its position clear in a new security environment in Northeast Asia.

She stressed that although China's political and economic clout is growing in the region, South Korea should pull out all the stops to solidify its alliance with the U.S.

Stronger Korea-US alliance

"It was not an accident that South Korea became a market-based free democracy. It was set on that trajectory at its inception, supported by the U.S.," she said.

"By the same token, North Korea became a totalitarian, one-family worshipping, socialist state with the support of the Soviet Union and China," she added.

In her view, South Koreans need to ask questions about what they value and what is worth protecting _ Do they value freedom, democracy, and a market economy? Or do they prefer Chinese-style censorship and arbitrariness in domestic politics, and bullying in the foreign and economic realms?

"If the answer is the former, then South Korea should maintain its close and strong alliance with the U.S. and maintain good relations with Japan, both countries that also value freedom, democracy, and the market economy," she said.

She pointed out that despite South Korea's relative size compared to its neighbors, it is a significant power on the global stage and thus can take the leadership in many fields in the global arena.

"But it needs to do it from a strong foundation of preserving and strengthening its system of freedom, rule of law, democracy and the market economy," she added. "For that, a strong South Korea-U.S. alliance is essential."


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