Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is the most advanced US nuclear defense and missile system. There are five THAAD batteries each requires 100 soldiers to operate. The planned deployment of THAAD in South Korea has raised a serious protest from China let alone North Korea's actions of accelerating its nuclear missile development and verbal threats of retaliation once the deployment location is decided. Now the South Korea has announced that Seongju county has been selected to be the site of THAAD; this has caused a massive residents' protest against the government's decision. Seongju is principally a farm county with melon farmers providing about 60% of S. Korea's melon consumption. The residents chanted, "We protest THAAD with our lives." So the deployment of THAAD in S. Korea is not a done deal, particularly in view of the impeachment of the S. Korea's President, Park Geun-Hye over her governing behavior involving her intimate girlfriend, which may still throw the THAAD issue into question.
The official U.S. position on THAAD can be represented by the statement of Ash Carter, Secretary of Defense, "We need to defend our own people and we need to defend our own allies." It is clearly based on a defense strategy that there is a threat to the U.S. and her allies hence we must deploy the most advanced missile defense (and attack) system to prevent the perceived threat. However, this strategy is producing an undesired effect, that is, an arms race not only in the Korean Peninsula but the entire Asia even propagating throughout the world. The arms race seems to be unavoidable simply because the interpretation of THAAD (its deployment) by the U.S. and China (and N. Korea) are very different. THAAD DEPLOYMENT and arms race (nuclear weapons especially) are such serious world issue that deserves a careful analysis.
China has been the only ally of N. Korea since the Korean War, but China has a sincere and self-interest induced motivation to curtail nuclear proliferation in the world like the U.S. does. Regarding N. Korea's nuclear weapon development, China has taken the same position as the U.S. to discourage and prevent it. China has gone out of her way to court S. Korea to send messages to N. Korea for the purpose of curtailing the N. Korea's nuclear program. Thus, it is puzzling why the U.S. interprets THAAD as the preferred strategic solution to the N. Korea nuclear development, willingly risking more arms race resulting in opposite consequence. The answer perhaps lies in China's interpretation of THAAD. China perceives that the U.S., in her deep national security strategy, assumes China as her ultimate enemy and threat. Though, on the surface, the U.S. is advocating restriction of nuclear proliferation but in reality, the U.S. does not mind that the nuclear proliferation is circling around China so long it is not coming to America (indeed, the Cuban Missile Crisis reveals such an attitude). China does have a point by just looking around her neighbors; nearly all are nuclear weapon capable nations or allies of the strongest nuclear force, the U.S. From Russia, Afghan, Pakistan, India, Japan, US bases in the Pacific and now N. Korea and S. Korea. Based on these facts and reality, China views THAAD as the final stroke of the U.S. completing an encirclement of China with nuclear threats.
So what would THAAD do in the long run? It will provoke N. Korea to accelerate nuclear missiles with ranges beyond targeting THAAD in S. Korea, ASIA and reaching to the U.S. since the U.S. holds the ignition button of THAAD. China for her own security has no choice but develop weapons with sufficient range and deterrent power; it is no surprise that China is developing satellite and space program despite the U.S. effort through international organizations to slow down China's development in space and all self-defense weapon systems. Following this logic, any sane American citizen (and including all Chinese Americans) ought to ponder whether the U.S. defense strategy, in particular that towards China, is a sane one, since we all know, the result of proliferation of nuclear weapons is annihilation of human race. As citizens we must question whether America's woo B (be it Russia or China) against C (China or Russia) with arms race leading to war is a right policy?!
Take the word, Area, out of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD -> THAD), that is removing China's fear being completed surrounded in all area by nuclear threat deserves a serious consideration. The Cuban missile crisis is a good history lesson how Americans feel when threatened by nuclear weapon; why wouldn’t the Chinese feel the same way? The U.S. Okinawa military base facing strong Okinawa opposition is another lesson on how people worried about military bases that might draw possible nuclear attack. The U.S. offered administrative responsibility of Okinawa to Japan hence getting rid of the dealings with protests of US military bases (unproven claim that Chiang Kai-check of KMT in Taiwan refused to accept the Okinawa administrative responsibility for knowing its effect might make Taiwan more vulnerable is also a history lesson) should give the U.S. enough clues about why strong opposition from Seonju residents in Korea occurs, why Kim Jong-un is taking more retaliating measures and why China is so concerned about the deployment of THAAD.
The word THAD defined in the urban dictionary online is as follows:
"The greatest most amazing person on this Earth. Caring, loving and respectful. Is the type of guy every girl with a clue wants. Always there to talk to no matter what the situation. Very understandable and protective. Mystical in a way, and enjoys teasing his lover. Supportive and thrilling - always knows what to say or do to brighten your day, no matter how crummy. (Day)Dream worthy. Full of love to give, just looking for the same in return. (: The person a girl would want to spend the rest of her life with... always).” Comparing THAAD and THAD, what one letter A or a word ‘Area’ make in defense strategy and it's possible consequences? Is this a naïve comparison in view of the future of mankind?
Area threat and counter measures are undesirable from all concerned. It is wise to take the A out of THAAD. Let's make THAD NOT THAAD for the sake of humanity. Hopefully, the new US administration will take this opportunity to ponder on THAAD vs THAD, to talk to Kim and Xi and not follow the footsteps of an illogical legacy.
Ifay Chang. Ph.D. Producer/Host, Community Education - Scrammble Game Show, Weekly TV Columnist, www.us-chinaforum.org . Trustee, Somers Central School District