[EDITORIALS]Regaining sanityIn his meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Korea, Thomas Hubbard, Prime Minister Goh Kun made clear Seoul’s three principles for relocating U.S. troops on the peninsula. Mr. Goh said Seoul is opposed to any lowering of the U.S. role as a war deterrent; he also said U.S. troops should maintain their trip-wire function, and that relocation must be discussed only after the North Korean nuclear issues are resolved.
We agree with Mr. Goh’s principles. Seoul and Washington should make their cooperation to resolve nuclear issues the top priority and postpone their discussions on changes to United States Forces Korea.
Intertwined with the nuclear issues, Korea and the United States had distracting discussions on the relocation of U.S. troops here over the past few months. The needless talks threatened our national security and our economy. While Koreans were carefree about security, foreign investors and companies began considering whether to pull out their investments. Foreign businessmen canceled visits to Korea. It is fortunate that the new government, although belatedly, became aware of the danger and changed its stance.
The U.S. military presence in Korea may be in line with the U.S. global strategy, but it is still a life-or-death matter for us. Whether the U.S. troops are stationed north of the Han River or south of it is crucial for our security in times of emergency. Deployed north of the Han River, where North Korean artillery can reach, U.S. forces would enter a war on the peninsula automatically. That is the trip-wire theory. Some Americans want their troops further back, so our initiation of discussions to reduce and relocate U.S. forces in Korea played right into their hands.
The new government disregarded our defense and was blinded by idealistic slogans of self-reliance. It will not be too late to discuss a change of USFK’s status after the clear and present danger is resolved and there are no nuclear weapons on the peninsula. The urgent security task for Korea is solidifying the U.S.-South Korea alliance.