BEREN AND MCDERMOTT AT KOREAN AMERICAN VOTERS ALLIANCE (10/9/06)
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The Washington state convention of the Korean American Voters Alliance was attended by about 1,200 people, and the program included a candidates' forum.
Both Steve Beren and his opponent, incumbent Congressman Jim McDermott, participated in the forum. Each candidate made an opening statement, fielded questions on Iraq and homeland security, and made a closing statement.
The convention took place on an eventful day – the morning news had reported that North Korea had tested a nuclear weapon, and also that South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon would be the next Secretary General of the United Nations.
Beren noted that his campaign platform centered on victory in the war against terrorism, lower taxes, and tough border security. He voiced support for the liberation in Iraq as a central part of the war against terrorism, and called for standing firm against the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran. Beren repeated his challenge to Congressman McDermott to agree to further debates.
McDermott claimed that most of the world was opposed to the United States because of its Iraq policy and that the election was a referendum on the Bush administration. With regard to North Korea, McDermott said that our Iraq policy had weakened our ability to deal with North Korea. He acknowledged that Kim Jong Il was a bad dictator, but argued that the United States needed to talk directly to the North Korea leader to achieve a peaceful solution. He pointed to the end of the Korean War as a positive example of successful diplomacy.
Beren offered a different view, noting that North Korea to this day remains a brutal, oppressive dictatorship which starves its people. It is wrong to blame America for the current world situation, Beren argued. Rather, the fault lies with the terrorists, and with dictators like Ahmadinejad in Iran and Kim Jong Il in North Korea, both of which are pushing towards military confrontation. We were able to fight and defeat both German Nazism and Japanese imperialism in World War II, Beren said, and today we can meet the threats of Iran and North Korea as well as protect new democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With regard to homeland security, Beren noted that the Seattle region is both a major port and close to the Canadian border. He called for tough protection of our borders, adequate funding for homeland security, and greatly increased inspection of containers entering our ports. Beren said that we need to stress the reality of the threat to our nation in order to achieve broad public support of homeland security. Every time a politician refers to a “so-called threat,” a “so-called war,” “so-called terrorism,” the rationale for protecting our ports and borders is undermined.
McDermott argued that the homeland security spending priorities of the Bush administration were out of balance. More money should go to homeland security for Seattle, he said, as opposed to a “popcorn factory in Indiana.”
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