By David English. David is an Oregonian who has lived in Korea for the past three years.
I realize most people who read BlueOregon are focused on the upcoming elections. But I want to take a minute to talk about why the recent events on the Korean peninsula have had me a little nervous lately. There seems to be no shortage of drama over here. North Korea's recent nuclear test has caused the country to step up drills in the event they were to invade the South. A few days ago we heard one such drill where I live here in Incheon.
You may be asking yourself, "Why does it matter what happens in Korea to those who are in Oregon?" First of all, thousands of American lives (including many Oregonians) were lost defending the South Korea. Second, South Korea is a Pacific Rim trading partner. In my three years in Korea, I've found many Oregon products from food to clothing, Korea imports quite a few things made in our state. Recently I was lucky enough to find Tillamook Cheese.
I believe we need to remain committed to peace on the Korean peninsula, but at the same time I have to question the methods we are using. Some have recently called on the United States to try to hold bilateral talks with North Korea. Among those is Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska who said, "Great powers engage."
The sanctions recently enacted by the United Nations will do little to detour North Korea and at best will probably push them to be even more defiant. Kim Jong Il's regime is desperate to keep his iron fisted grip over the country. David C. Kang, a Korean expert at Dartmouth College was recently quoted as saying, "The sanctions are at best kabuki theater. They're not going to have much effect on North Korea's behavior."
It is time we send a message to our Oregon Congressional Delegation that we must challenge the Bush administration's status quo on North Korea. There is much more we can do to prevent the situation from getting worse. Engaging the North in a discussion and resolving the disputes between the two countries should be our goal not to further escalate things. Furthermore, we should be working toward normalizing relations with the North Korea and formally ending the conflict between the two Koreas (you might recall the two countries are technically still at war due to the fact that only an armistice was signed, not a peace treaty).
Our nation has been sidetracked by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and tensions between the United States and Iran. We cannot have a schizophrenic foreign policy. Are we really up to the task of being a superpower? It's for time for us to step up to the challenge of being a world leader.