Why did Ambassador Harry Harris set up in Colorado? [최영해의 폴리코노미]


At 7:30 am on January 19, US Ambassador Harry Harris presented as a speaker at the ROK-US Alliance Forum hosted by the ROK-US Alliance and the USFK Friendship Association. Due to the novel coronavirus infection (Corona 19), it was difficult to hold a public seminar, so he was invited to a webinar that was conducted through online video. Ambassador Harris appeared on the screen while wearing a black mask with a Korean screen and stars and stripes in the background at the residence of the US ambassador in Jeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul.

He took office as the US ambassador to Korea in July 2018, and after two and a half years of living in Seoul, he returned to the United States on the 21st. It is said that it was due to the resignation of the post of ambassador according to custom on the day of the inauguration of Democratic President Joe Biden. Ambassador Harris is a former U.S. Navy pilot who served as commander (commander) of the U.S. Pacific Forces Command in Hawaii for three years from May 2015 to May 2018. He is the first Asian (Japanese) American to be promoted to admiral in the history of the US Navy. In all of his remarks, Ambassador Harris was fortunate that “two and a half years ago, when he changed his affiliation from the US Department of Defense to the State Department, he changed his flight suit into a suit and came to Korea.”

#Forcing the choice between the US and China is the wrong narrative

The point of his farewell lecture focused on the importance of the ROK-US alliance, China’s malicious challenge, and North Korea’s potential for provocation. As always emphasized, there is nothing more important than the ROK-US alliance on this day, and he stressed that it should be made into a’lynchpin (core axis)’ between Korea and the United States. Ambassador Harris said, “I am often asked whether the Korean government is being forced to choose between the United States and China in the security alliance and trade partners.” “This is a narrative that is misinformed to raise doubts on the history and strength of the ROK-US alliance. I think it’s narrative,” he said firmly. The Moon Jae-in administration put a wedge in the controversy of’Ahn Mi-kyung-jung’ (an American economy is China for security). “The US chose in 1950 (participating in the Korean War), and so did China. South Korea, a new country, chose it in 1953, and North Korea chose it in 1961.” They pointed out that the Korea-US Mutual Defense Treaty was signed in 1953, and the Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Assistance was signed in 1961.

He presented the history of the ROK-US alliance with a specific year.

△Signed the Korea-US Mutual Defense Treaty in 1953 △Founded the CFC in 1978 △Transferred peacetime operational control rights to Korea in 1994 △Joined the Visa Waiver Program in 2007 △Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) entered into force in 2012 △Korea-US Security Council in 2015 △2018 The conclusion of the re-negotiation proposal for the Korea-US FTA △He selected the conduct of the Korean general election and the US presidential election in 2020 Corona 19. The development process of the ROK-US alliance is pointed out.

Ambassador Harris speaks at the night of the ROK-US Alliance hosted by the USFK Friendship Association in October 2019.

Harris meets at Pacific Command in Hawaii

The first time the reporter met Ambassador Harris was at Pacific Command in Hawaii in the spring of 2016. Harris served as commander (commander) of the U.S. Pacific Forces Command for three years starting in May 2015. He met with Korean-American club officers who were former Washington correspondents through’off the record’ (unreported condition), and placed a world map on a large slide in the Pacific Military Command conference room, pointing to North Korea as the most threatened place to the United States. When he held a baton and talked about North Korea in a small sized military uniform, he repeatedly emphasized that South Korea is the key US alliance. In 2016, the last year of the Barack Obama administration, the US strategy toward North Korea was summed up as’strategic patience’.

However, at Hawaii Pacific Forces Command, I could feel on my skin that North Korea was on guard day and night without knowing when it was going to provoke. Throughout an hour’s talk of the US’s Asia Pacific military strategy, his attention was focused on North Korea. Harris, a Japanese American, was born to a father of the US Army in Japan and a Japanese mother. Harris, who crossed from Japan as a child and grew up in Tennessee, USA, was conscious of the heightened anti-Japanese feelings in the U.S. at the time so that her mother could not speak Japanese at all outside the house. He was extremely reluctant to be seen as Japanese. On December 7, 1941, during World War II, Japan raided Pearl Harbor in Hawaii without a declaration of war. Is it the irony of history that Japanese Americans are defending Hawaii as commander-in-chief of the Pacific Ocean, which has a history of tension due to Japanese surprise provocations?

#Last year’s resignation controversy

Ambassador Harris was controversial in April last year. Reuters reported that Ambassador Harris plans to resign after the US presidential election in November, regardless of whether President Donald Trump was re-elected. When the Reuters report came out, a spokesman for the US embassy in Korea said, “Ambassador Harris is carrying out his duties according to the will of the President, and he wants to continue to actively serve the United States. It is the best partner and alliance for the United States.” Although he tried to evolve the spread of the problem, he did not directly deny his resignation in November, leaving a lingering impression.

Ambassador Harris had to strongly represent the US position to the Korean National Assembly and the media when dealing with the ROK-US defense share negotiations and the Korea-Japan Military Information Protection Agreement (GSOMIA) in the second half of 2019. As a military-born diplomat, he enjoyed using direct speech, which is far from the traditional diplomatic image, so he often went on the narration and gave Koreans a’strong impression’. In his negative image, some people questioned the Japanese lineage and mocked Ambassador Harris’ mustache by comparing his mustache to a’Japanese governor’.

Ambassador Harris aroused controversy when he made a remark in November 2019 that “President Moon Jae-in is surrounded by the leftist movement of the North and South.”

#Conservative Harris

How did the report of his resignation come out?

Ambassador Harris is reported to have expressed his intention to quit the US ambassador to Korea after the Trump administration’s term ends at the command of the State Department at the meeting of the heads of diplomatic missions held in Washington in February last year. In the background, it seems that President Trump has no choice but to convey as an ambassador to the host country the pressure to raise Korea’s defense cost share by five times. President Trump’s pretense that he could withdraw US troops from the Korean peninsula in the course of the US presidential election also confounded the position of Ambassador Harris. There would have been no pressure to fulfill unreasonable demands as an ambassador of the host country. A diplomat said, “It seems that Ambassador Harris was very difficult to convey the tough position of the headquarters of the State Department to Korea.” It is assumed that the burden of having to play a villain in the negotiating basket between the United States and Korea with the style of working as a soldier as soon as possible was considerable.

In particular, not a few people speculate that it would have been difficult for Ambassador Harris, who was from the military, who had no choice but to be conservative, to deal with the Moon Jae-in government, whose mainstream student movement rights were. It seems that it was not easy to match the chemistry with Ambassador Harris, who emphasizes the alliance above all else, and Moon Jae-in administration, who prioritizes improving relations with North Korea. Looking at this situation, we can guess the whole story of his resignation.

#A warm person with a clear division of construction

Those who hated him tried to highlight his mustache and the bad image of’Japanese governor’. However, Ambassador Harris was popular as a warm person to the staff within the embassy. During his tenure, the salaries of embassy employees were said to have increased more than any other ambassador in the past. He did not spare time to encourage the staff by holding unity competitions with the embassy staff from time to time.

In particular, it is said that the classification of public works was strict. Ambassador Harris’s wife, Mrs. Bruni Bradley, is a former naval officer. When Mrs. Bruny recently arrived at Incheon Airport on her way to the United States, Ambassador Harris said she did not meet the airport because of business hours. People say that it is a style that thoroughly draws a line about the mobilization of personnel or equipment for private work during weekday working hours. Embassy officials remember that this was a contrast to the previous ambassadors’ emphasis on protocols and attempts to enhance their external image.

Although he is Japanese American, he is known to be wary of being treated as Japanese. Refusing to ride Japanese cars and emphasizing being American. At one event, it is often said that the Japanese expressed their personal friendliness and distanced themselves from saying “I am an American”.

#Wouldn’t it have been possible to fill the three-year term

Ambassador Harris spent two and a half years in Korea after taking office in July 2018. Normally, the ambassador’s term of office is three years, but with the inauguration of the Biden government, he withdrew from the position of ambassador by custom. In April of last year, Ambassador Harris announced that he would resign immediately after the US presidential election in November, but it is also known that he also indicated that he would continue to serve as ambassador after President Trump’s failed re-election. Diplomats observed that the biden government’s presidential post-acquisition committee would have hinted that he would continue to serve as ambassador if he asked him to assume the position of ambassador until the next ambassador was appointed. However, it is said that there was no special reaction to Biden’s acquisition. In the context of the US administration’s transition from Republican to Democratic Party, it is customary to change the ambassadors of major countries. Nevertheless, it is not easy to leave the ambassador’s position in South Korea facing the North Korean nuclear threat for a considerable period of time. If the Biden administration had asked Ambassador Harris to stay there until his successor was gone, it would have been difficult for him to refuse.
US Navy Homepage

#Bird nest in colorado

It will take a while before President Biden decides to succeed Ambassador Harris. It is highly likely that Korea will be decided only after appointing ambassadors to Japan, Russia and China, which are major countries. Who will succeed Harris is still veiled. Perhaps for some time, Robert Rapson will have to serve as ambassador.

Ambassador Harris and his wife set up their home in Springfield, Colorado, in preparation for their retirement. Instead of buying an existing house, it was built. Ms. Bruny visited this place last September and stayed there for a couple of months to clear up a new home. Born in Japan, Ambassador Harris grew up mainly in Tennessee and Florida. It was somewhat surprising that he made a nest in Colorado. Ambassador Harris said that “I will enjoy fishing in the scenic Colorado.” In fact, I think I will have to deal with the exhausted mind and body for the time being. Some say that the establishment of a haven in Springfield, Colorado, which has no special connection from a year ago, is related to the plan after retirement. There are also observations that since he was a naval pilot, he is interested in aviation companies such as Boeing and back education to foster future pilots. Some say that there are clusters of related industries near Springfield.

Former Korean Ambassador to the United States, Ahn Ho-young, who is known to have met with Ambassador Harris once a couple of months, said in his farewell speech, “We were born in 1956 and graduated from Georgetown University the same, and as diplomats and soldiers, we devoted ourselves to the government and for the ROK-US alliance.” He laughed, saying, “I have a common point that I am married to a wife who is better than myself.”

Last year, Ambassador Harris was a prominent candidate for the US Navy Secretary. Biden, who values ​​diversity, doesn’t seem to be without the possibility of taking the lead in the government. In this regard, attention is drawn to the future steps of Asian Ambassador Harris. I wonder what the second act of his life will be like in Colorado.

Reporter Choi Young-hae [email protected]

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