Friday, April 01, 2005

Professor Kim Lectures President Roh For Lecturing the Korea Military Academy

I seem to be getting on President Roh's case, but I'm only passing along what others are saying. Yesterday was Professor Ha's turn. Today is for Professor Kim Kyung-won, who also doesn't like Roh's remarks on "balancing":

"On March 22, at the Korea Military Academy's graduation ceremony, President Roh Moo-hyun issued this warning: 'In the future, the balance of power in Northeast Asia will be changed by the strategic choice that Korea makes.'"

Interesting that Professor Kim calls this a "warning," for this raises a couple of questions: who is being warned, and about what? Let's leave these hanging for a moment. First, consider Kim's insightful words about knowing when to remain silent:

"There are only two possibilities here. Things could actually turn out as he [i.e., Roh] predicts they will, or the Northeast Asian balance of power could be left completely unaffected by whatever it is that Korea chooses to do. If the latter proves to be the case, then the person who predicted otherwise will undergo a loss of credibility. If the former is true, then there is no need to make an announcement about it ahead of time."

In Kim's view, then, Roh has stumbled badly in the art of diplomacy not for the truth or falsity of what he has said (which was Professor Ha's focus) but for saying anything at all.

Now, let's return to the questions posed above: who is being warned, and about what? Kim implies that Roh is warning two countries, the U.S. and Japan:

"Korean leaders . . . keep saying that we can't maintain the present 'triangular alliance' with the United States and Japan."

Kim doesn't specify that Roh is one of these "Korean leaders," but not everything needs to be said. What he does say is this:

"[N]o such [triangular] alliance even exists. Korea is an ally of the United States, but not of Japan. Talk of leaving the triangular alliance is really talk of leaving the alliance with the United States."

Conclusion: Roh is using words about "balancing" to pressure the United States over issues that he sees to be in Korea's national interests. There's nothing wrong with that. But Professor Ha and Professor Kim both doubt that Korea has the balancing power that Roh thinks it does.

Time will tell.


Post a Comment

<< Home