Things that Korea should do as the Chair of G20

Recently we have seen plenty of domestic and international problems in Korea, the U.S. and China. In the U.S., the Obama administration is facing the difficulties caused by BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The endless oil leakage has contaminated the beautiful Florida beaches, and the local fisheries are in great financial danger.  The tourism industry has suffered a loss of over $1 billion, which has also led to the loss of 200,000 jobs. Some Americans have stated that the Obama administration’s response to this national disaster is even worse than the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina. The implementation of the health care reform bill that passed in the House (by one vote) is not an easy task for the administration, either. There is still discontent from big insurance companies, as well as a majority of the middle class.

The Obama administration also faces several serious diplomatic problems, such as a deepening deterioration of the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And now, the incident in which Israel soldiers killed 10 Turkish civilians by attacking an international humanitarian flotilla heading to the Gaza strip has put Obama administration into a very delicate position.

For China, the main headache probably is North Korea. North Korea’s denial of its involvement in the Cheonan sinking, even after the international investigation team revealed decisive evidence that it was North Korea behind the sinking, put China under a barrage of international criticism saying that China is overly protecting North Korea. It’s a small wonder why the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party must be wondering if North Korea is truly worthwhile to defend.

South Korea’s trouble is much bigger. The U.S. decided to place its own sanction against North Korea, believing that a resolution to render sanctions against North Korea would not be passed in the U.N. Security Council due to China exercising its veto power.   Even if the U.S. moves alone, it could be a fatal blow to North Korea. However, many conservative South Koreans still would not be happy until the Korean government rendered their own revenge, perhaps through military retaliation.  The Korean government has been trying to avoid any form of military confrontation with North Korea. Many of us have tragic memories of the Korean War. The Korean military initiated psychological warfare, using loudspeakers along the demilitarized zone trying to demoralize North Korean troops.  At the same time, several conservative organizations dispersed thousands of propaganda leaflets into North Korea, attaching them to kites. North Korea made very serious objections against both the loudspeaker and kite flying activities, even to the point of making military threats.  South Korea decided to cancel all these activities immediately, which led to public criticism over an apparently cowardly government decision.

There is a solution.  If China’s veto is the problem, the U.N. can be reformed by taking back the veto privilege given to those five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, and China) half century ago.

Now is the time for Korea to propose, as the Chair of G20, a bill for replacing the five U.N. Security Council members with G20 nations, making them permanent members of the Council.  They should also propose that every issue before the Council should be decided by a simple majority, and 10 more nations can be added as term members. Thus, the veto power of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council will be permanently repealed; no one superpower county is privileged to block the majority opinion.  By asking G20 to replace the existing permanent members, then Korea (as the chair) will become a permanent member and the international status of Korea will improve greatly. This is the way to get revenge on North Korea, without resorting to warfare.

We have a great chance to reform the UN. When I was in the House, there was a bill to either reform the UN or cut its size by half, as the UN’s size had spiraled out of control and far too bureaucratic, making nobody accountable for their mistakes. The majority of the American public agrees that the U.N. must be kept for world peacekeeping missions, but also that it’s grown too big and too wasteful.  No one seems to know who is in charge of the U.N.  For these reasons, the U.S. would react positively to reform, and Korea should take the lead on those reforms.  This solution may face strong objection, but it deserves a chance.

This column was published on’ the economic daily’ on 6/27/10

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