Sunday, July 18, 2004

The Main Enemy is North Korea
The Korea Herald is running an editorial about the Ministry of National Defense and the problem of producing a white paper that would single out North Korea as the biggest danger to the country's security. Now it seems to me that the country with which you at war with (technically), with which you regularly clash with militarily, and the one which threatens to turn your capital city into a 'sea of fire' with disconcerting frequency would meet the criteria to be awared the title of -- enemy numero uno. The editorial offers some lackluster arguments as to why the MND is in a quandary on this issue:

"On the other hand, the North Koreans are compatriots, as South Koreans are occasionally reminded by tearful family reunions arranged by the South and North Korean governments. Or they can even become economic partners, as cross-border economic exchanges are fast accelerating now."

Compatriots they may be and reunions are certainly important but that is nothing to do with defense. If you consider economic partners as meaning an economic black-hole and potential sweatshop, which is what it has so far proven to be then that is okay. But economic partnership, too, is nothing to do with defense. Indeed the Ministry of Unification needs to work on the former, and businesses, the MoU again and other government and non-government bodies can work on issues of economic and cultural exchanges. But this is nothing to do with defense and the line should be clear.
The idea of the Sunshine Policy initiated by Kim Dae Jung shows that defense and engagement can occur contemporaneously. The policy (now called something like the Peace and Co-prosperity Initiative) has three pillars: no absorption, zero military tolerance,  AND active engagement. The important point here being that the policy specifically clarifies a difference between defense and engagement and sees both goals as equally important. As such, the MND should keep its mind on its primary duty and leave matters of engagement to those arms of government and society that are responsible for that side of matters. As the MoU should not interfere into military defense of the country so too the MND should not interfere in the matter of economic engagement and family reunions. If the MND is not going to face the reality of South Korea's military situation the White Paper wouldn't be worth the paper its written on.
Australian Politics
There is still speculation about when the election is going to be called but already campaigning and the like are underway. This new website  got particular attention in the media and is worth a gander. I also read that one Margo Kingston has reportedly written a book called "Not Happy! John, which reportedly argues that PM John Howard is undermining Australian democracy. I haven't read it but one book I have read that I would add to a list of books to read before the election would be Dark Victory by David Marr & Marian Wilkinson.
The End of Blogging -- for now
I am about to go on vacation for about three weeks to UK & Ireland which also means a vacation from blogging.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui