[EDITORIALS]Insecure self-esteemRelocating the U.S. 2d Infantry Division to the area south of the Han River has become an established fact. The first talks of the future policy initiative between South Korea and the United States ended Wednesday, and at Seoul’s request,discussion of the timing of the relocation was postponed until the North Korean nuclear issue has been resolved.
We will have to increase our defense spending to increase our readiness to take over the defense burden. The relocation of U.S. front-line troops means that they would no longer play the role of a war deterrent. Our security will be disturbed as a result.
The two sides agreed that South Korea would assume responsibility for some selected missions of the U.S. 2d Infantry Division when the U.S. troops move south. To perform those missions, we will have to reinforce our combat capabilities to counter the North Korean arms deployed along the inter-Korean border. The shift in responsibility will require procurement worth trillions of won. More seriously, the change means that the assurance of automatic U.S. involvement of a war on the peninsula will disappear. North Korea will have accomplished its long-demanded withdrawal of U.S. troops from the South. Throughout the past 50 years, we were able to concentrate on building our economy under the shield of the U.S. military. That safety device will disappear. We will have to spend more for less security.
The new government’s attitude of climbing on the bandwagon of anti-Americanism has led to this outcome. The financial burden and the insecurity are too serious and too dangerous to be regarded as compensation for increasing our national self-esteem.
Despite such problems, Seoul agreed with Washington’s proposal readily. After resolving the nuclear crisis, our priority in talks with the United States should be the future of the South Korea-U.S. alliance, not the relocation of the 2d Infantry Division.
The recent protest by 133 lawmakers against the troop move has a point. The allies can discuss issues such as moving Yongsan Garrison after the North Korean nuclear crisis is resolved, but any infantry relocation discussion should be reserved until after the Korean Peninsula’s peace is concrete.