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Published On: Wed, Mar 15th, 2017

U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson Visits South Korea Ahead of Presidential Elections

nsnbc : U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit with the conservative transitional caretaker government of South Korea in Seoul this week. The visit comes ahead of presidential elections in South Korea on May 9, after Seoul’s Constitutional Court confirmed the impeachment of president Park Geun-hye.

USA_Rex Tillerson_Mar 2017Last week the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Korea (ROK) a.k.a. South Korea confirmed the impeachment motion against President Park Geun-hye. Presidential elections have been scheduled for May 9.

Tillerson will be meeting officials of the caretaker government of Prime Minister and Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn. Hwang is leading the polls among possible conservative party candidates, but Hwang announced the he would not run in the presidential elections as he needs to manage the transitional period until a new president has been elected and inaugurated.

That said, Hwang and other conservatives are relatively far behind Moon Jae-in, the frontrunner and former head of the biggest opposition Minjoo Party. The liberal Minjooo party and Moon don’t necessarily see eye to eye with the United States’ position and policy with regard to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) a.k.a. North Korea. A Minjoo party and Moon presidency is also likely to return to a more constructive intra-Korean dialog – Needless to say that Washington isn’t exactly celebrating this prospect or welcoming policies aimed to peacefully reunite Korea.

Kaesong

Kaesong

Many Koreans in the North and the South perceive the upcoming presidential elections as an unofficial referendum that determines whether or not the majority of South Koreans approve of the hard-liner policy of the now ousted president Park. A South Korea under a Moon and Minjoo party presidency, believe many analysts, would be likely to return to a less bellicose policy based on joint economic development, intra-Korean dialog, laying the foundation for a feasible reunification by bringing the two countries economies on par, as well as cultural and humanitarian cooperation, rather than a policy that is mainly based on military pressure, military deterrence, and economic sanctions.

It is important to note that many South Koreans who were told that Seoul has regained command over the ROK’s armed forces lack awareness about the fact that the United States still has the “supreme command” over both US and South Korean forces in wartime. A minor “shooting war” between the North and the South would in other words mean that Seoul would have to transfer the command over its armed forces to Washington. Moreover, one may argue that the transfer of the “peacetime command” over the ROK’s armed forces from Washington to Seoul was an intellectual or PR exercise anyway because the ROK and the DPRK are officially still in a state of war.

Tragically, media in South Korea and the USA are positioning the DPRK as “a vassal of China” which sadly is as true as the fact that the ROK’s defense and even the command of its forces is in the hands of the United States. What may be even more tragic is that both China and the USA belong to the club of self-anointed permanent UN Security Council members whose alleged function and obligation it is to peacefully solve conflicts and to guarantee other UN members right to self-determination and territorial integrity.

Tillerson will also be visiting with American military forces in South Korea engaged in joint exercises with ROK forces, that include the nuclear powered aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson. A “show of force”, allegedly aimed to “deter and counter” the DPRK’s nuclear capabilities.

CH/L – nsnbc 15.03.2017

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