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[Editorial] Bush inauguration and world peace

Posted January. 21, 2001 15:50,   


Former Texas Governor George W. Bush took office as the 43rd president of the United States on Saturday, thus becoming the new leader of the world`s only remaining superpower. The hopes and expectations of not only the American people, but also the people of nations around the world, could not be higher.

In his inaugural address, President Bush said faith in freedom and democracy are key ingredients of humanity`s hopes for the future. Issuing a warning to those who might seek to undermine the United States and freedom, he stressed that any attack or evil design upon America would be resisted with determination. Bush certainly reaffirmed America`s will to settle international problems with all vigor it can summon.

The Cold War ended a decade ago and the 21st century has begun. Yet regional disputes and terrorism, religious conflicts, famine and environmental degradation continue to torment people in many parts of the globe. Partnership and cooperation among the nations of the earth is most necessary as we struggle to deal with these problems. Addressing these issues also calls for an even greater role by the United States. The Bush administration`s strong determination to address world problems is all the more welcome at this juncture.

However, this does not rule out some concerns about the American leadership`s possible fixation on its own narrow national interests. The emphasis the new government places on strong diplomacy, if and when it degenerates into big-power chauvinism, may give rise to another force that is bent on challenging the United States. The reactions of North Korea, Russia and China to Bush`s plan to build a national missile defense (NMD) system to bolster a proposed theater missile defense (TMD) plan may portend that possibility. Against this backdrop, we urge the new administration to exercise caution in moving ahead with plans for the NMD and TMD.

The Korean peninsula is an area especially susceptible to fallout from Bush`s foreign policy initiative. Testifying to the region`s sensitivity, North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Il visited China on the eve of the new president`s inauguration. Incoming Secretary of State Colin Powell`s call for a review of Washington`s North Korea policy and the encouragement of reciprocity and "realism," made during his Senate confirmation hearing, sounded a note of alarm in this part of the world.

Being new to the arena of international politics, President Bush is advised to meet with as many foreign leaders as possible and listen to them in earnest. President Kim Dae-jung should be among the first to hold talks with Bush. In this way, Bush will be able to give full play to his leadership as he pursues the cause of world peace.