Shim Jae Hoon at PostGlobal

Shim Jae Hoon

South Korea

Shim Jae Hoon is a Seoul-based journalist and commentator writing for a variety of international publications including YaleGlobal Online, The Straits Times of Singapore, The Taipei Times and Korea Herald. He was a correspondent for Far Eastern Economic Review in Seoul, Taipei and Jakarta. Close.

Shim Jae Hoon

South Korea

Shim Jae Hoon is a Seoul-based journalist and commentator writing for a variety of international publications including YaleGlobal Online, The Straits Times of Singapore, The Taipei Times and Korea Herald. more »

Main Page | Shim Jae Hoon Archives | PostGlobal Archives


June 2008 Archives



June 20, 2008 10:41 AM

South Korea's Real Beef

SEOUL - By apologizing for mishandling the beef import issue with the United States, South Korean President Lee Myung Bak has averted a major political crisis that threatened to undermine the stability of his young administration. In a nationally televised speech on Thursday, he promised to ban imports of American beef from cattle older than 30 months of age, accepting the argument that younger cattle are less prone to mad cow disease, and therefore safer for Korean consumers.

But whether this new import rule, subject to agreement with the U.S., will end many weeks of street protests in Seoul remains doubtful. Underlying the recent political unrest are a variety of factors, including Lee’s controversial leadership style. The concern over mad cow disease may certainly be genuine, but as demonstrators freely concede, it has also been useful as a cover for expressing other discontents.

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June 24, 2008 2:28 PM

Fight Taliban, But Not With Weapons

How do you negotiate a truce with scattered bands of thuggish bandits fighting not for secular objectives but for religious fundamentalism? Let Afghanistan's elected government fight them. Negotiating a truce with a diverse groups of guerrillas will only undermine the Karzai government's authority and leave people increasingly skeptical of the power of the central government. With the U.S. preoccupied with the war in Iraq in this election year, and EU countries worried about Iran's nuclear program, this is the worst time to consider beefing up troop reinforcements in Afghanistan. Besides, the problem is complicated by Pakistan's ambiguous attitude toward the Taliban; Islamabad has skillfully used them to bargain more military aid from the US and to keep the warring tribes (including rival Taliban factions) quarreling with each other so that it can influence Afghanistan's strategic future.

Let's now turn the tables on Pakistan and ask it to send troops to fight in the Afghan war if it wants military and economic aid from the US to continue: after all, Pakistani ISI military intelligence played a big role during the Cold War in arming the mujahedeen that today constitute the Taliban leadership. The Karzai government will strongly resist Pakistan's involvement, of course, but then it will give it an additional motivation to shape up and clean up its own house without depending on outside forces.

The Taliban thrives on ignorance and indigence of local populace. In order to win the war against the Taliban, the Karzai government should open up more roads, build more schools and housings, start more television stations, supply more electricity, and create more urban centers -- i.e., focus more on economic projects to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan interior. The answer is not to bring in more foreign troops.

In today's war against Islamofascism, there's no stronger weapon than the free flow of information from the outside world. Show pictures of how a fellow Muslim country like Turkey or Malaysia is doing, or of how the once impoverished countries like India and China are advancing. It will be a much more potent weapon than the barrel of a gun.


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