Swans

Response to NATO Expansion on Asian Soil

by Nenad Obradovic and Pedja Zoric

September 4, 2000

 

Note from the Editor:  "Strange to say, there is an extremely effective solution to the problem of 'finessing' U.S. hegemony. It would require such imaginative statesmanship from the West and such a clear view of the contemporary reality, that I almost hesitate to mention it. The answer is to extend membership in NATO to the East Asian democracies (Japan, South Korea, and dare I name ... Taiwan). It is time they were made full partners in the alliance of the free world, and relieved of their status as 'client states.' For we are on the same side." Thus concludes an editorial published in the print edition of the Vancouver Sun on August 30, 2000. The editorial is reproduced at the end of this commentary under the provision of U.S. Code, Title 17, section 107 (which happens to be the fair use provisions of copyright).

In a letter to the Editor of the Canadian newspaper, Nenad Obradovic and Pedja Zoric found themselves not on "the same side" as David Warren and expressed their bewilderment over such a highly dangerous and asinine suggestion.

 

       What a pity, we haven't made mediocre journalism into an Olympic event yet! Nevertheless, David Warren's editorial, "Extending NATO into Asia could curb criticism of America," published in the Vancouver Sun on August 30, 2000, does deserve a brief response.

       Besides discovering a flaw in US army intelligence (a huge accomplishment on your side, one might add) presenting an open invitation to a potentially disastrous scenario is what truly gives a zest to an otherwise tiresome set of facts piled in a couple of paragraphs.

       David Warren notwithstanding, we have sincere doubts that the Chinese government would welcome such a "brilliant" idea (we almost hesitate to mention it) as parting with its island in support of NATO expansion. Annexing Taiwan would require a bit more diplomacy than a simple apology as in the case of the "accidental" bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, one would thinků

       According to David Warren, it seems that benefiting the "free" world's war machine, military industry, and always-hungry mainstream media by turning volatile territory into an open flame is exactly the way to go. What could possibly be wrong with the rise of military stocks, the boosting of CNN and CBC ratings or the Vancouver Sun's circulation? We could have our Prime Minister read a little bit about Asian history and off we go, sending young Canadians into yet another Asian adventure.

       Obviously, journalistic writing allows for much leniency. But including some common sense would certainly improve the overall clarity of the article. Unless there is a nuke exchange, and we all are forcefully persuaded in ice age theory, harmlessly ignited by some "witty" editorial in the Vancouver Sun, we fail to see the point of the article. Even a bad joke has to have a meaning, doesn't it?

       Increasingly the "free" world looks like a world free to impose simplistic solutions at other nations' expense. After all, bombs are cheap and human life is inexpensive.

       Our advice to David Warren: Keep some of your ideas to yourself for "we are on the same side."

      Nenad Obradovic & Pedja Zoric
      Vancouver, BC

       P.S. A nephew of ours is going through some learning problems in his high school. We're wondering, which University was kind enough to issue a diploma to David Warren? We'd loved to send the troubled youngster to the same institution!


 

Vancouver Sun
Wednesday, August 30, 2000
Editorial
A15
In Asia
SEOUL

Extending NATO into Asia could curb criticism of America: Extending membership to Japan, South Korea and perhaps even Taiwan would `finesse' U.S. hegemony. David Warren Vancouver Sun

SEOUL - `It's a pity they haven't made student rioting into an Olympic event,'' a jaded American business adviser said to me, ``because it would be an easier gold medal for South Korea than taekwondo.'' He went on to describe some of the great riots of the 1980s, under dictator Chun Doo Hwan, who was perceived as a Yankee dependent by many university students. They were themselves the last generation of naive Marxists. With their headbands, gorgeous signage, rhythmic chanting and punctually drilled rock-throwing charges, they made an indelible aesthetic impression on the campuses of Seoul. The government still preserves one small bombed-out shell of a residence as a kind of "student riot museum" from those good old days.

The riot police for their part were equal to the challenge. Long experience had taught them the art of clearing public spaces. After the initial skirmish, and the tactical retreat of the plexiglas shields, they would drive in from two directions pumping tear gas like water canon, chasing the students down pre-arranged lanes of escape, back toward their dormitories -- while police ``grabbers'' in gas masks and anoraks picked off student leaders.

Now that South Korea is a full-fledged, multi-party democracy and Marxism has lost so much of its appeal, there are fewer, less exciting demonstrations. But the prospect of Korean reunification has re-animated anti-American feelings in the population at large. People are beginning to ask the rhetorical question: ``If Korea is at peace why are the Yanks still here?''

The current cause celebre is something called SOFA -- the Status of Forces Agreement between Washington and Seoul. This governs such sensitive issues as what happens when a U.S. soldier is accused of a crime against a Korean civilian, or who is responsible for environmental problems emanating from a U.S. base. It confers a degree of extra-territoriality on the Americans that is offensive to Korean national dignity. While the agreement is being re-negotiated in good faith by both sides, I notice the initials ``SOFA'' standing out of the Hangul script on Korean front pages.

The U.S. embassy is constantly surrounded by a double row of Korean guards, with reinforcements aboard buses in a side road round the back. The U.S. military television station flashes occasional warnings to those in uniform to avoid planned demonstration sites, though the demonstrations themselves seldom materialize. The riot police are not shy, however, and when I went to see one such non-event, I found hundreds of them encamped in each of two nearby subway stations. I do love a thrill.

But when I asked a few questions, I discovered a flaw in U.S. Army intelligence. An English-speaking officer politely explained that the troops were ready to protect a nearby medical college. A national doctors' strike has been inflaming sentiments against medical students, to say nothing of doctors.

Notwithstanding, the U.S. presence in Korea is under intense scrutiny, as it is in Japan and (especially) Okinawa. Troop reductions are likely no matter who wins the U.S. presidency, but this can only ease the rate at which public pressure grows.

From the American point of view, as also from that of the government of Kim Dae Jung, the GIs remain in ``forward deployment'' because the threat to South Korea remains chillingly real.

One has only to go to Panmunjon, and look across the truce line at the humourless northern guards, and see the trip-wire readiness of our allied soldiers, to be reminded that the Cold War isn't over yet. Nor have mutual force reductions even been discussed.

The only thing that has changed since the inter-Korean summit in June is the blare of North Korean propaganda across the DMZ. Instead of an all-day barrage of words through the megaphones, our allies are now being treated to an all-day barrage of ear-splitting music.

Strange to say, there is an extremely effective solution to the problem of ``finessing'' U.S. hegemony. It would require such imaginative statesmanship from the West and such a clear view of the contemporary reality, that I almost hesitate to mention it.

The answer is to extend membership in NATO to the East Asian democracies (Japan, South Korea, and dare I name ... Taiwan). It is time they were made full partners in the alliance of the free world, and relieved of their status as ``client states.'' For we are on the same side.


 

       Pedja Zoric is a computer guru who lives in Vancouver, Canada, and a member of the Serbian Canadian Society of Vancouver. He can be reached at pedjazoric@home.com
Nenad Obradovic is a student in computer science and electronics at Simon Fraser University.

Published with the written permission from the authors.
Pedja Zoric sent The Vancouver Sun editorial to Swans. To the best of our knowledge, the Sun did not post it on its Web site. We are publishing it to support the piece and under the provision of U.S. Code, Title 17, section 107

 

 

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Published August 21, 2000
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