Mon, Nov 06, 2006 - Page 9 News List

Troubles are brewing beyond N Korea's nukes

Despite the grave threat that a nuclear-armed Pyongyang poses to the region and the world, the US-South Korean alliance is shaky and unpredictable

By Richard Halloran

The delegation from the Korea Research of Military Affairs met with US specialists on Korea gathered by the Pacific Forum think tank in Hawaii. To encourage candor, the rules of meeting precluded speakers from being identified.

A Korean quickly set the tone by claiming that "the current ROK-US alliance is in crisis." The growth of Korean democracy, with its freedom of dissent and economic expansion contributed to Korean "self-confidence and nationalistic pride," he said. He noted a 2004 survey of young Koreans which found that a majority saw Kim and Bush as equal threats to peace.

When the US asked what South Korea would do to steady the alliance, however, the South Koreans answered with generalities, such as proposing a blueprint for the 21st century, or with silence.

Richard Halloran is a writer based in Hawaii.

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