How will Korean descendants 100 to 200 years from now interpret the situation on the Korean Peninsula in 2023, when war crises have become commonplace? Currently, South and North Korea on the Korean Peninsula are engaged in an extreme confrontation with completely different thoughts and actions over one foreign power, the United States. On one side is the world’s number one anti-American government, and on the other hand, the pro-American government that is all-in on the United States, which has handed over military sovereignty to the United States and is leading the Korea-U.S.-Japan cooperation system, is holding out.
If we think about how our descendants will evaluate the conflicting attitude toward the United States, which is buried in national egoism, such as ‘American law is the law of the world,’ we may be able to find a solution to the problem at hand. If we do not forget that a stern judgment awaits us from future generations, we will be able to avoid actions like the one that brings about the destruction of the nation.
If you look at the statements made by the two leaders of North and South Korea since last March, they are nothing more than a military warning to the divided half, saying, “You die, I live.” If you look at its contents, it is eerie.
– North Korea conducted an underwater explosion test of a ‘nuclear unmanned underwater attack vehicle’ and a simulated aerial explosion test of a strategic cruise missile nuclear warhead in March last year, with Chairman Kim Jong-un in attendance, and Chairman Kim said, “The United States and South Korea ignored our patience and warnings. “As the authorities’ reckless military provocations become more severe, we will respond more overwhelmingly and more aggressively until the end,” he said (Yonhap News, March 24, 2023).
– Last July, President Yoon Seok-yeol announced the Ohio-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine ‘Kentucky’ ( SSBN-737 ), a U.S. strategic asset capable of carrying nuclear weapons.) Prior to boarding, he told ROK-US military officials, referring to the first meeting of the ROK-US Nuclear Consultative Group ( NCG ) held the previous day, that “ROK and the US will continue to engage in regular deployment of strategic assets such as the Nuclear Consultative Group and SBN. “We will respond overwhelmingly and resolutely to North Korea’s growing nuclear missile threat. We have clearly warned that any provocation by North Korea will lead to the end of the regime,” he said (The Hankyoreh, July 19, 2023).
The above remarks by the two leaders of North and South Korea are only part of the military demonstrations and sharp offensive messages that continue day after day. One such example is that when South Korea and the United States recently deployed B-1B strategic bombers and conducted joint aerial training, North Korea on the 30th conducted “tactical nuclear strike training simulating the destruction of the important command posts and operational airfields of South Korean military thugs. ” “It was carried out,” the Korean Central News Agency reported on the 31st. The news agency introduced the goal of the training as “repel the enemy’s unexpected armed invasion and move to a full-scale counteroffensive to occupy the entire southern hemisphere” (Yonhap News, August 31, 2023). Prior to North Korea, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense conducted the “Preliminary Crisis Management Exercise ( CMX )” stage according to an offensive scenario such as restoring North Korea and ousting the North Korean regime rather than defense during the ROK-US joint exercise “Freedom Shield (FS)” conducted in
March. “After declaring war, we will skip the first part of the defense and repulsion phase and immediately focus on the second part of the counteroffensive and North Korean stabilization phase to restore the North Korean region and check the operation to stabilize it with support for residents,” he said (Yonhap News, 2023) March 4th). After decades of division between North and South Korea due to their blood-sharing brotherhood, a serious standoff has emerged to the point where the global community is concerned about a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula. Thinking about how the world will view this situation brings cold sweat down my spine.
When looking at the global village, considering that among many communities, the sustainability, cohesion, and sense of unity of peoples and nations are strong, it is time to deeply reflect on the attitude of going all-in on ideology and committing mass murder of one’s own people. The present-day reality enjoyed by members of North and South Korea is an extension of the spirit and soul of our ancestors who have continued their history for half a millennium. If so, it would be a fair responsibility for today’s generation to strive to become ancestors that future generations will not be ashamed of.
Looking at world history, ideas and ideologies are variable depending on the times. If we acknowledge that the nation is a community with the longest vitality and centripetal force compared to ideas and ideologies, North and South Korea should take steps to create a roadmap that will lead today’s confrontation to peaceful unification.
I looked at the present and history from a long-term perspective for a moment, and in fact, I was so proud of it that I got goosebumps when I looked at the military confrontation, demonstration of force, and hostility toward my own people on the Korean Peninsula unfolding before my eyes.
North Korea intends to attack the opponent with its own nuclear weapons and the remaining US nuclear weapons, but nuclear weapons boast a destructive power that is incomparable to that of conventional weapons. To show how terrible it is, the loss of life caused by the two nuclear warheads dropped by the United States on Japan in August 1945 is as follows.
— In the two cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which were attacked by nuclear weapons on August 6 and 9, 1945, a total of 740,000 people were affected by the atomic bomb, including 230,000 people who died on site and 510,000 people who suffered injuries and aftereffects. In the two cities, the number of Korean victims who were forcibly taken to military cities and mobilized to work reached over 100,000.
It is reported that among the Korean victims, 50,000 died instantly, 50,000 survived, 43,000 permanently returned to their home country, and 7,000 lived in Japan. Among the surviving Koreans, there were many cases where they were forcibly mobilized by the Japanese to remove debris after the atomic bomb was dropped and were exposed to radiation. The injured were treated poorly by the Japanese because they were not Japanese, and did not receive proper treatment even after returning home.
North and South Korea declare that they will attack each other with nuclear weapons.
North Korea declares that it has completed an explosion test hundreds of meters above the ground with tactical nuclear weapons against South Korea, and South Korea responds by saying that it will completely rely on the US nuclear attack strategy against North Korea and destroy North Korea with nuclear weapons. This could be said to be a psychological warfare message from North and South Korea to scare the other side into giving up the war. But the reality is not simple. As always, foreign powers outside the divided country are intent on using division and confrontation to gain their own advantage.
In the process of pursuing a global military strategy targeting China and Russia, the United States appears to be putting a blood alliance against South Korea first and using North Korea as kindling. China and Russia participated to a large extent in sanctions against North Korea, including including North Korea’s satellite launch in the UN sanctions list. However, when the recent Ukraine-Russia war led to a new Cold War, they opposed additional Security Council sanctions against North Korea and resolved the issue through dialogue and negotiation. We are calling for a solution. Even though criminalizing the launch of satellites, which are directly related to space exploration and development, is the same as blocking the future development of the nation, China and Russia supported sanctions against North Korea.
China and Russia’s changed positions on North Korea are revealed in a joint statement issued after the summit between President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin on the 21st. The two leaders said, “We express concern about the situation on the Korean Peninsula and urge the countries involved to maintain coolness and restraint and make efforts to ease the situation,” and urged the United States to “response to North Korea’s legitimate and reasonable concerns through actual action and set conditions for resumption of dialogue.” “It must be created,” he urged (Yonhap News, March 22, 2023).
China and Russia continued, “Both sides have always insisted on maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and realizing denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and have jointly advocated establishing a peace and security mechanism on the Korean Peninsula. Both sides have adopted sanctions and pressure (against North Korea). “It doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, and I think dialogue and negotiation are the only way to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue,” he said. “The two sides will continue to communicate closely and cooperate, and pursue the mindset of ‘double-track progress simultaneously’ (simultaneously promoting the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of a peace regime).” “We will continue to promote the process of political resolution of the Korean Peninsula issue in accordance with the principle of phased and simultaneous action.”
However, what we need to look at calmly at this point is that the great powers of the United States, China, and Russia have tried to take full advantage of the division of the Korean Peninsula, and are still doing so now, and are prepared to negotiate and make deals behind the scenes if necessary with the intention of doing so in the future.
It is not easy to make the best choice or reach a win-win agreement in the international community. It is important for both the government and individuals in North and South Korea to look at each other’s and their own feet, but they must also make efforts to look ahead to the mid- to long-term and make wise efforts while considering the entire global community. Considering this, concerns about today’s reality should naturally include preparing for a future in which descendants will have to live safely.
Today, the two camps on the Korean Peninsula are getting closer and closer each day, reaching a point where it is impossible to figure out how the issue can be resolved peacefully. Continuing from last year, North Korea continues its show of force by launching various strategic and tactical missiles this year, declaring that it will consider legislating the use of nuclear weapons and even mentioning North Korea’s denuclearization as a declaration of war. They are not hiding the possibility that they could attack South Korea with tactical nuclear weapons. Of course, the war itself is not the goal, and it is clear that they are hoping for a solution at the diplomatic and security level. It is already widely known that this will result in the suspension of ROK-US joint exercises and the lifting of UN sanctions against North Korea.
The two countries, South Korea and the United States, only respond to North Korea with strong force and have no attitude at all to accept North Korea’s demands. The U.S.-led policy toward North Korea is known for strengthening the Korea-U.S.-Japan military cooperation system. The UN mainly takes care of the United States’ opinion that North Korea is violating Security Council sanctions, and this is being repeated in the Ukraine-Russia war. South Korea also mobilizes various cutting-edge strategic assets from the United States and continues to conduct joint military exercises, including beheading operations such as the assassination of North Korean officials, and continues to disclose this to the media. South Korea’s mass media is relaying scenes from the ROK-US joint military exercises to people’s homes as if broadcasting, creating a situation similar to the media’s wartime mobilization system.
Since last year, the two camps on the Korean Peninsula have been simultaneously engaging in military action and escalating the level of emotional confrontation. In the case of the United States, China, and Russia, when military tensions rise, they do not omit safety measures to prevent accidental clashes, such as phone calls between the Minister of Defense or top military commanders. North Korea is rejecting such safety measures, and South Korea and the United States appear to be fighting back.
While concerns are growing that the global community is entering a new Cold War, in Northeast Asia, Korea, the United States, Japan, and North Korea, China, and Russia are solidifying. If the current movement continues, there is a growing possibility that the entire Northeast Asia will be caught up in a situation if an armed conflict breaks out on the Korean Peninsula or Taiwan.
Given that when a war breaks out, the sacrifices of not only young soldiers but also civilians are great, politics cannot argue that all means should be used to prevent war. It is said that a just war exists, but if possible, the best way is to win without going to war or to conduct political diplomacy in a situation where war will not occur. The correct answer would be for politicians to act as servants of the people with this sense of responsibility.
Grounds justifying the U.S. President’s exercise of the right to preemptive strike
When the U.S. government mentions preemptive strike, it presents Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution and the ‘authority to use force ( AUMF )’ as legal grounds. Since 1997, the United States has considered a preemptive strike against North Korea’s major nuclear facilities every time the president changed when North Korea attempted to develop nuclear weapons, but South Korea has never been a subject of prior discussion (JoongAng Ilbo, September 19, 2020) Day). This is due to the legal system in which the United States does not consult in advance with its allies regarding its plans to use nuclear weapons, which are strategic weapons. The United States also presents two grounds for North Korea: Article 2 of the Constitution and ‘Authority to Use Force ( AUMF )’, which can be said to be an attitude that seeks to legitimize the United States’ actions depending on the situation.
The original text of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ” A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State , the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed . ” security of a free State , the right of the people to keep and bear Arms , shall not be infringed .) Although this article does not say preemptive strike, the logic is that it is possible when interpreted authoritatively. At the same time, American citizens are gun owners. It is interpreted that the legal basis for appeasement is also in this article.It is a typical ‘earring if worn on an ear’ type of statement, but US officials insist that it is so.
In the case where Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution was mentioned as a preemptive strike, the U.S. Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense said in a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in October 2017 that if a North Korean attack on the U.S. is imminent or an actual attack is carried out, the President, according to Article 2 of the Constitution, (Voice of America, October 31, 2017).
At the time, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis stated that the president’s authority as commander-in-chief of the military could be applied in the event of an imminent or actual North Korean attack on the United States, and did they believe that congressional approval was needed prior to military action against North Korea? avoided giving a direct answer to a question from a lawmaker.
Secretary Tillerson also said in a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that whether or not Congress would approve it could depend on the circumstances, and that it is a decision that must be made based on accurate grounds. He also said, “Is it an immediate threat whether the president will exercise his right (to wage war) without Congressional approval?” He explained that it depends on the nature of the threat.
Meanwhile, Secretary Mattis said that under Article 2 of the Constitution, the president has a responsibility to protect the country, and in time-pressed situations, he may not consult with Congress or act first, as in the U.S. airstrike on a Syrian air base in April 2017. He said he could imagine a situation where Congress was notified immediately. He said that in the case of North Korea, Article 2 of the Constitution, which specifies the president’s authority as commander-in-chief of the military, will be applied when a direct, immediate or actual attack is made against the United States.
When asked whether they could consider each other’s possession of nuclear weapons as an immediate threat to the United States, the two ministers also declined to comment, saying that it was an overly hypothetical situation. Secretary Tillerson said that the status of nuclear weapons could mean that they are stored in an underground facility or that they are about to be launched, and that an immediate threat should be judged based on the facts.
At this hearing, there was also a question about the possibility of a preemptive strike against North Korea using nuclear weapons, but Secretary Mattis said that if a threat is imminent and (a nuclear attack) is the only way to prevent it, there may be other (defense) means such as conventional weapons, but the president must He answered that he had a responsibility to protect. Through the above remarks by the two U.S. ministers, the U.S. can be interpreted as revealing that the president can use all means to preemptively strike North Korea based on his or her subjective judgment.
The US President’s ‘Authority to Use Force ( AUMF )’
The following is about the US President’s ‘Authority to Use Force ( AUMF )’, and this authority is to be applied in the war against terrorism. One may also suspect that the United States’ designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism was a preliminary measure to invoke this authority. U.S. President Donald Trump announced in October 2020 that Sudan would be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and with this measure, only three countries, North Korea, Iran, and Syria, remain as state sponsors of terrorism (Segye Ilbo, October 20, 2020).
After being designated as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1988, President George W. Bush removed North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism in January 2008, but after the death of Warmbier and other incidents in 2017, it was placed back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism on November 21. As long as North Korea remains a state sponsor of terrorism, it can be subject to the U.S. President’s ‘authority to use force ( AUMF )’.
The AUMF grants the U.S. President the authority to use necessary and appropriate military force against individuals or groups who planned, led, supported, or carried out terrorist attacks such as September 11, 2001. However, the AUMF was used as a pretext for the United States to justify and continue military action around the world, and was used to intervene in 37 cases in 14 countries and on the high seas by 2016 ( Matthew Weed ( Matthew Weed (February 16, 2018). “ Congressional Research Service Report ” ( PDF ). Congressional Research Service . Retrieved June 19, 2019).
AUMF was first used during the US Iraq War in 2003, and then came to the brink of war with Iran when President Trump eliminated Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani. As the AUMF is being used as a basis for the U.S. president to use military force overseas, a bill calling for its abolition was submitted to the U.S. Congress, but was not passed.
In January 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that significantly limited the U.S. President’s authority to decide on military action, including abolishing the AUMF granted to the U.S. President, but it was rejected in the Senate . This was the second such move by the U.S. House of Representatives, following President Trump’s ‘fire and fury’ remarks against North Korea in 2017 and claims that the Trump administration was considering a preventive preemptive strike against North Korea (Voice of America 2020) February 1).
At the time, all moves to put a brake on President Trump’s military action against North Korea were led by the Democratic Party, but because the Republican Party controlled both the Senate and the House of Representatives, related agenda items were always aborted.
The ‘Unconstitutional Prohibition of Preemptive Attacks Against North Korea Act’, which was introduced in October 2017, prohibits the administration from using the budget for military action against North Korea without congressional approval unless a North Korean attack is imminent or an actual attack has occurred, thereby preventing the president from conducting an independent preemptive attack. It was about putting the brakes on. Around the same time, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy also proposed a similar plan to prevent a preemptive strike against North Korea, but both failed to pass the standing committee threshold and were discarded.
Regarding the controversy over US military action against North Korea, most Republican lawmakers argued that all options, including military action, should be left on the table and pressure North Korea to come to negotiations. Regarding the possibility of a preemptive strike against North Korea by the Trump administration, they said that the threat to the US is imminent. In this case, he emphasized the logic that the president has the authority to launch a preemptive strike based on Article 2 of the Constitution.
However, some in the Republican Party argue that the AUMF does not grant the president any authority to take military action against North Korea, and that the AUMF should be revised to also grant the president the authority to take military action against North Korea and Iran.
How does the U.S. president activate his right to preemptive strike?
If the U.S. President’s right to preemptive strike is activated, the three major nuclear forces operated by the U.S. Strategic Command: long-range nuclear bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and submarine -launched ballistic missiles (SLBM ) etc. are mobilized. For example, as announced by the U.S. Department of Defense last year, the United States’ strategy is to provide extended nuclear deterrence by punishing and striking allies such as South Korea with the same level of force as if the U.S. mainland were to be attacked if they suffered a nuclear attack.
The United States has a specific nuclear attack plan against North Korea, and U.S. military experts appear to recognize that South Korea’s permission is not needed for a nuclear attack against North Korea, which has intercontinental ballistic missiles ( ICBMs ) that can threaten the U.S. mainland (North Korea) Daily News September 16, 2020).
Former U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Thomas McInerney said in a Fox Business interview in August 2017, ‘If Kim Jong-un bombs Seoul, the U.S. nuclear counterattack will end everything within 15 minutes. All cities in North Korea will disappear. If North Korea attacks Seoul, the United States will immediately launch a strategic nuclear bombing called ‘Chrome Dome’, leaving North Korea with nothing. “With the attack order, 2,000 of our (US) cruise missiles will fly,” he said. A
preemptive strike by the US on North Korea would mean an all-out war on the Korean Peninsula, which would lead to an astronomical amount of human casualties throughout North and South Korea, which is the worst-case scenario, but South Korea did not negotiate in advance. Isn’t it a target? How can such a bizarre thing happen? It is a terrible reality that the life and death of the Korean people can be determined at any moment by the U.S. president. The U.S. has secured the pretext for a preemptive strike against North Korea through the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty
The fact that the U.S. preemptive strike or preemptive attack on the Korean Peninsula is deeply related to the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty is also rarely discussed in Korea. When looking at the concept of preemptive strike, it is clear that the United States is routinely preparing excuses for attacks against North Korea under the ROK-US Mutual Defense Treaty.
The U.S. president’s preemptive strike is supposed to be taken when an enemy attack is judged to be imminent. This means that the use of force is based on subjective judgment. For this subjective judgment to be persuasive to the outside world, it must be plausible. In other words, evidence must be presented that North Korea knew in advance that it would take massive military action against the United States. Only then can we receive the necessary budget support from the U.S. Congress and avoid international criticism.
The United States frequently sends advanced reconnaissance aircraft to South Korea’s airspace to monitor North Korea in order to collect such data or to collect data for disclosure as ‘this is the evidence.’ Such reconnaissance against North Korea is possible under the ROK-US Mutual Defense Treaty. This is because, according to Article 4 of this treaty, the United States can send reconnaissance aircraft into the skies of South Korea, which is close to North Korea, whenever it wants and can prepare in advance for a preemptive strike.
Looking back, during the Park Chung-hee regime, issues regarding the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty were raised in relation to the Korean military’s increase in combat troops in Vietnam. On March 12, 1966, 55 members of the National Assembly, including Cha Ji-cheol, submitted a proposal to the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee on March 12, 1966, and the National Assembly subsequently submitted a proposal on July 8 of the same year, “Korean defense issues and military relations between Korea and the United States.” A motion was passed requesting that the government “reexamine all treaties and conventions that determine affiliation and the status of foreign troops stationed in Korea, and supplement them as soon as possible with content that is realistic and preserves sovereignty in accordance with changes in circumstances” (Pressian) May 13, 2010).
Accordingly, the Ministry of National Defense sent the results of the review of the ROK-US alliance to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in October 1966, stating that ‘a comprehensive revision of this treaty is necessary due to changes in the international situation that have occurred over 10 years since the ROK-US Mutual Defense Treaty was signed.’ Although the Park Chung-hee administration’s raising of problems with the ROK-US alliance has since faded away, it deserves praise for confirming the problem externally in terms of independent national defense.
However, since then, no administration has mentioned the ROK-US alliance, and a serious military standoff is developing to the point where we have to prepare for nuclear war. Despite this situation, domestic politicians are simply taking the same attitude as if the ROK-US alliance is 100% in line with Korea’s interests.
The U.S. president’s preemptive strike power is stipulated in U.S. domestic law as a device to protect the lives and property of U.S. citizens, and the U.S. has had no prior consultation with South Korea prior to its exercise. This is not all. The United States has no prior consultation with South Korea regarding plans to withdraw or reduce U.S. troops stationed in Korea. This is because there is no provision in U.S. law requiring prior consultation with Korea when the U.S. president exercises his authority as commander-in-chief of the U.S. military. As long as the current U.S. law persists, America’s one-way military decisions will continue.
The United States is completely ignoring the enormous damage that South Korea is suffering due to its military decision to pursue its own interests, and South Korea is silently expressing its agreement. The U.S. president’s preemptive strike authority or AUMF are controversial even in the U.S. Congress.It is heartbreaking to think about how the world will view the fact that there is no controversy in Korea, which could be at risk of national annihilation because of this.
It would be the government of the Republic of Korea’s natural duty to the people to think about ways to encourage, persuade, or, if necessary, force them to make a different choice instead of a preemptive strike by the United States, and to come up with a concrete plan. Korea is a sovereign country like the United States, but shouldn’t the Korean government step forward and protest to the United States and correct the possibility that something absurd could happen in which Korea does not have the authority to choose between war and peace, life and death? Any government that does not will have to seriously think about its reason for existence.
However, looking at our reality, it is very sad. Although it is said that devices that will devastate the Korean Peninsula are always in operation due to the preemptive strike authority granted to the President of the United States, the Korean government, politicians, academia, and media have rarely taken any action to directly question the legitimacy of this and protest.
Perhaps because the basic knowledge about the US preemptive strike is not widely known in Korea, the US policy, which has the potential to lead to the worst tragedy since Dangun, was passed over as a temporary issue with very little attention. What would the United States think of Korea, which watches without much fuss despite the fact that a full-scale war on the Korean Peninsula could result in up to 10 million deaths and injuries in South Korea alone? And how does the world view Korea?
There is a need to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue by normalizing ROK-US military relations.
Recently, in the Korean political world, President Yoon Seok-yeol’s remarks about ‘our own nuclear armament theory’ along with the ‘nuclear armament theory’ proposed by the ruling party are attracting attention. In an exclusive interview with Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper ahead of his visit to Japan on the 15th, President Yoon said, “Some in Korea are raising the idea of possessing nuclear weapons. What do you think about the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the United States’ ‘extended deterrence’ ? ” When asked, he said, “With our science and technology, we can create nuclear weapons bigger than North Korea’s in a short period of time. There are many voices of public opinion asking why we don’t make them” (Pressian, March 27, 2023).
President Yoon said, “I basically respect the NPT system,” but he was essentially declaring to the Japanese people, “There is public opinion that we should also make nuclear weapons.” This could be interpreted as President Yoon weighing in on public opinion regarding the ‘nuclear armament theory’ or ‘tactical nuclear deployment theory’ ahead of his visit to the US in April.
However, considering the explosive impact that Korea’s nuclear armament theory would have if it becomes a reality, President Park Chung-hee’s theory of revising the Korea-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty seems highly likely to come true. This is true in the sense that diplomacy and politics require close inspection of the downstream effects that will occur after launching a balloon to check public opinion. From the U.S. perspective, there will be greater interest in normalizing the ROK-U.S. military alliance to the level of a sovereign state rather than the nuclear domino effect in Northeast Asia caused by Korea’s nuclear armament.
Today, as the possibility of nuclear war exists on the Korean Peninsula, we must break away from the frame of approaching the concept of war from the past. This is especially true in the sense that even if nuclear weapons are used in a local war, there is a very high possibility that it could escalate into World War III. If an all-out war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, there is a high possibility that Northeast Asia will be engulfed in war clouds or that it could even escalate into a nuclear war. Taking this into account, it is essential to develop a strategy that can prevent war and maintain peace.
So what is the solution to the current crisis? There are many things to consider, but one of them is the US President’s exclusive preemptive strike power, which we looked at earlier. Given that Korea and the United States are members of the same UN, it is considered an urgent priority to normalize military relations between Korea and the United States in terms of national defense sovereignty under international law.
The current ROK-US alliance is a playing field that is seriously tilted towards the US due to the ROK-US Mutual Defense Treaty, wartime operational command authority, and UN forces. Considering that the United States has been considering a preemptive strike against North Korea since the late 1990s without prior consultation with South Korea, it is urgent to create conditions in which the inter-Korean agreement can be implemented without interference from foreign powers in order for inter-Korean relations to be established and maintained normally.
For example, even if North and South Korea decide to refrain from mutual military action, it will be difficult for inter-Korean relations to be maintained normally as long as there is a possibility that the United States will take military action against North Korea based on its own judgment. After President Park Chung-hee proposed concluding a non-aggression pact between South and North Korea in January 1974, South and North Korea signed an ‘Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-aggression, Exchange and Cooperation between South and North Korea’ in December 1991. If the situation in which South Korea exercises complete military sovereignty is not guaranteed, a tragedy such as the cancellation of the inter-Korean exchange and cooperation plan agreed upon at the two inter-Korean summits in 2018 could be repeated.
If the ROK-US alliance is normalized into a rational and equal relationship consistent with the UN Charter, there will be great room for US policy toward North Korea to be improved in a rational and practicable direction. It must be taken into account that as long as the military privileges that the United States enjoys in South Korea persist, American rationalism has no choice but to regard North Korea’s white flag surrender as the best.
Given that war and national power are closely related, it must also be taken into account that the economic and national defense capabilities of South Korea and the United States are far superior to those of North Korea. Considering that the United States’ defense budget is at least 600 to 700 times larger than that of North Korea, and South Korea’s defense budget is 30 to 40 times larger, it is clear who will take the lead in finding a solution to the current military tension on the Korean Peninsula. Given that it is in accordance with the UN Charter that the issue ends in a win-win situation for both sides, rather than one side surrendering, it would be reasonable for South Korea and the United States to show an attitude of presenting a solution from a win-win perspective.
The U.S. Congress seeks to stipulate ‘no war with North Korea’, and the South Korean National Assembly is only considering the pros and cons of the election.
In a situation where war clouds are in the air on the Korean Peninsula, some members of the U.S. Congress are calling for the U.S. government to use the defense budget for a war with North Korea without prior approval from Congress. Legislation has been promoted to prevent this ( CBS March 23, 2023).
In April, Democratic Party member Brad Sherman recruited fellow lawmakers to sign a formal request to the House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee to include such language in next year’s defense budget bill. Currently, 11 lawmakers, including Ro Khanna, McGovern Lee, Judy Chu, and Andy Kim, have signed the request.
The request states that in next year’s defense budget bill, “North Korea is continuing extensive missile testing and uranium enrichment, raising the risk of military conflict again, so unless the United States is invaded, the U.S. defense budget will not be used to engage in combat with North Korea without prior approval from Congress.” They urged that the following clause should be included:
— There are approximately 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in Korea and more than 100,000 U.S. citizens living there, all of whom would be at serious risk if a military conflict breaks out on the Korean Peninsula. Sustained diplomacy, together with our partners and allies in the region, must be our focus to secure lasting peace. The U.S. Congress has constitutionally delegated authority to prevent unilateral and unauthorized attacks. The United States must clearly signal that it does not pursue war with North Korea. —
The United States organizes its budget each year through separate laws. The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee reviews the adequacy of the budget submitted by the administration, and the National Defense Subcommittee under the Appropriations Committee reviews the use of the defense budget among the government budget and sets it into law.
On the 1st, Rep. Sherman presented to Congress the ‘Korean Peninsula Peace Act’, which contains the U.S. government’s mission to end the Korean War, conclude a peace안전놀이터 agreement, establish diplomatic relations between North Korea and the United States, open a mutual liaison office, and allow American-Koreans to freely reunite their separated families in North Korea. It has been submitted.
The core content that Rep. Sherman is seeking to include in next year’s defense budget bill can be seen as ‘Unless the United States is invaded, the U.S. defense budget should not be used for combat with North Korea without prior approval from Congress.’ The purpose of this is to limit the U.S. president’s right to preemptive strike, which is the authority to use military force in emergency situations that require a military response for national security and national interests.
In order to limit or check the president’s right to preemptively strike, the U.S. Congress has in the past set legal limits or adjusted the defense budget to require the president to obtain congressional approval before carrying out a strike. Additionally, attempts were made to require a detailed report on the national security situation before the president uses the right to preemptively strike, or to evaluate the president’s decision and present recommendations through the National Security Committee.
However, the prevailing view is that it is impossible for Congress to limit or put a brake on the U.S. President’s right to preemptively strike, as it is guaranteed by the Constitution and laws. This attempt promoted by Rep. Sherman is also expected to be the same.
Unlike the U.S. Congress, which is moving to check the U.S. President’s right to strike preemptively, the Korean National Assembly has not yet shown any concern about the possible catastrophe that would result in total destruction of the Korean Peninsula in the event of war on the Korean Peninsula, or any movement to consider measures to prevent it. They are repeating the same behavior as Jeong Sang-bae, which only calculates the votes of voters and only considers the pros and cons of an election. It will be difficult to avoid criticism that a shallow attitude that is buried only in political interests is parasitic on division.