There is an inherent friction in the US South Korean
alliance. I call this an alliance
because even though we may not have signed government to government agreements,
the role of the
Those political ends are most secure which are broadly
shared. Even so, just because they are
broadly shared does not, in and of itself, make them secure. The legitimacy of these ends must be
continuously reinforced by word and deed.
Our alliance common ends are shared commitments to free market
democratic principles and basic human rights.
We must strengthen our shared commitment to these common ends by
understanding the domestic, pol-mil realities in
This economic freedom has brought the means to enable
greater political freedom. Yet there
remains the danger that political reform, which is relatively recent in
With the war still part of the collective consciousness of much of the population, as well as the events and aftermath of 12/12, there remains a sense of anxiety about loss of stability as well as loss of legitimacy of political institutions. The tendency is to enhance them both through means which have a great potential for blowback. One such means is strict control of information, as well as the use of propaganda on the domestic population. This is especially dangerous in today’s world where, as Secretary Rumsfeld has said, a lie can be half way around the world before the truth gets its boots on. The converse is also true - the truth can be half way around the world before a lie gets its boots on.
The alliance must work together to maximize both stability and legitimacy. The means to do so are to increase and strengthen commitments to political transparency, civilian control of the military, the rule of law, economic growth the benefits of which are widely shared, and democracy. To the degree these commitments are internally threatened, our alliance looses traction on fundamental shared ends, which makes it all the more difficult to reach consensus on alignment and cooperation on unique national ends.
The Free Trade Agreement between the
In the informational arena, our government has done a poor job, either by design or neglect, in educating both the Congress and their constituencies on the critical nature of the strength of our alliance both to deter as well as, if deterrence fails, win the war, and the importance of our alliance in our ability to achieve regional goals.
Diplomatically, we appear to have delegated our responsibility in ensuring the strength of the alliance to the military. Although mil-to-mil efforts at maintaining a strong alliance are crucial, an overemphasis here runs the risk of a South Korean emphasis on stability to the detriment of progressive democratic development. All of these efforts must be coordinated to ensure maximum effort both on our alliance’s as well as on our regional uniquely national goals.