A new Cold War is looming large in Northeast Asia as Washington insists on installing the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile shield in South Korea.
During the four decades of the Cold war period, most of the world’s nations were forced to take sides and paid a heavy price for struggles between two super powers – the United States and the Soviet Union. That was a price no lighter than all-out hot wars.
After the falling of the Soviet Union, the U.S. still risks goading North East Asia back into conflict, chaos and estrangement.
The Obama administration claims the anti-missile shield could help defend South Korea against potential security threat from its neighbor the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
However, the THAAD is neither able to protect South Korea from the DPRK, nor to ensure the safety of its captital and the surrounding areas, given the fact that the shield has limited range for intercepting missiles.
Also, once the THAAD was placed in South Korea, its X-band radar would give the U.S. the ability to peer conveniently deep into China and Russia, imposing a grave threat to the security interests of the two countries and to regional peace.
Already, the Chinese defense ministry has confirmed recently that Beijing is testing its own anti-missile systems to ratchet up self-defense capabilities.
The deployment would also encourage the DPRK to be even more adventurous in its military actions. As for the Russians, don’t expect Moscow to stand idle if its national interests are challenged.
By strengthening its military posture and alliance in the region, Washington is producing two contentious camps on both sides of The 38th parallel on the Korean Peninsula, and diminishing any hope that the region’s nuclear issue can be solved diplomatically.
For that, Washington and Seoul need to tread very carefully. Otherwise, the outcome of a misplaced decision could be too calamitous to overcome.