[EDITORIALS]Our Obligations as an Ally

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[EDITORIALS]Our Obligations as an Ally

President Kim Dae-jung sent a message Monday to U.S. President George W. Bush saying that Mr. Kim would fully support all efforts made by the United States to eradicate terrorism. Mr. Kim promised to provide as much support and cooperation as deemed necessary and according to the spirit of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States and South Korea. The message has in fact made it clear that South Korea plans to work in partnership with the United States in its anti-terrorism retaliatory war in which only the date has to be determined.

Mr. Kim's message could be interpreted as an expression of South Korea's willingness to work in partnership with the military measures of the United States for the punishment of terrorism based on the Mutual Defense Treaty, just as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is treating the recent act of terrorism as an attack on a member state of the military alliance. It may be legally disputable whether the present case applies to article 2 of the treaty that stipulates joint countermeasures. But jointly opposing the acts of terrorism that extinguished more than 5,000 innocent lives is a moral duty of an ally, and the legality of it matters little.

Last week's terrorist strikes are anti-humanitarian acts of barbarity that cannot be accepted either by justification or rationale. As a member nation of the civilized world, Korea should, without question, participate in the efforts to uproot and punish terrorism. What concerns us are unjustified wars and senseless killings. We do not in any way mean to be lenient on the terrorist groups. It is therefore regretful that some are claiming that the United States brought upon itself the disaster with its arrogance, hegemonism and ill-conceived Middle East policies, and that the attacks were a natural outcome.

The majority of the people in the United States also believe that the retaliatory attacks must wait until the persons guilty of the acts of terrorism are clearly identified. As an ally, we should hold fast to the strict punishment of the terrorist groups guilty of the terrorism. But we believe it is wrong to dispatch Korean combat troops. Our support of an impending war should not be more than sending medical support teams and supplying goods and other non-combat troops, as Korea did during the Gulf War.
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