As of now, North Korea is a basketcase. It’s loony ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong-Il has nominally begun a transition to hand the reins of authority over to his even less qualified son, Kim Jong-Un, a hard-to-believe scenario that passes for what we’ve come to expect out of the Hermit Kingdom. North Korea continues with their program of nuclear technology proliferation, hostile military acts including sinking a South Korean naval vessel last year, and continuing with their incessant barrage of truth-estranged propaganda that emanates from Pyongyang.
Yet the government of South Korea looks forward to the day when the entire peninsula is finally reunited. Their government is looking to fund an account with upwards of $50 billion dollars to pay for the eventual costs of reunification. That day is not today, that day is not tomorrow, and it’s probably not going to be within the next decade. Eventually I believe it will happen, but not anytime soon.
But I like the move, and I think there’s a lot that we in the US can learn from it. The South Koreans are putting aside political ideology for what they acknowledge to be a reality (the eventual reunification of the two states) and they’re approaching the problem with planning, organization and an eye towards the long term. These characteristics are utterly absent in the US political dialogue these days. But, it would behoove us to take a page out of our South Korean ally’s play book, and perhaps try to adopt some of these traits when our federal government is formulating what currently passes for policy in Washington. I can’t think of a better strategy when it comes to any federal or global issue than setting aside ideology and looking to the next decade, fifty years, the next century, when it comes to protecting and growing the US economy, or maintaining our privileged status atop the global order. Should we fail to heed the South Korean example, the US could well go the way of our hegemonic predecessors and relegate ourselves to the irrelevance into which we seem to be barreling headlong.