[EDITORIALS]A moment of crisisThree issues that separately would have divided national opinion have arisen simultaneously: the issue of sending combat troops to Iraq, the issue of building a nuclear waste facility in Buan county, where residents have opposed the idea to the point of assaulting the county governor, and the opening of the rice market, which has again surfaced as a major topic with the suicide of a protesting farmer. None of these problems are easy to solve and all of them are urgent.
In the bigger picture, these issues are already settled. The nuclear waste facility must be built somewhere, the opening of the rice market cannot be delayed indefinitely and the question of sending troops to Iraq is directly connected with national interests, such as the issue of redeployment of U.S. troops in Korea, and would most likely happen once legitimacy is established in the form of participation in a UN peacekeeping force. The real problem is how to persuade the public, and how to minimize social strife in the process.
It is imperative that President Roh Moo-hyun and the government understand the seriousness of this crisis. The government must choose a position and stick to it. Yet it must also persuade the public and show consideration for the opposing minority. The government must maintain a sense of crisis, that one false step means a fall from a cliff. The biggest difficulty is that the very groups that oppose these issues support President Roh. Should the president waver, the country could fall into irreversible chaos. Should he overcome this crisis, his support could go up. Crisis, after all, is an opportunity.
It is encouraging that the Blue House has announced it will accept the National Assembly’s proposal to oust home affairs minister Kim Doo-kwan. The Blue House seems finally to have realized that it would be near-impossible to resolve these issues without the cooperation of the opposition party.
We urge the president not to reverse course on persuading the National Assembly and the public on the issues of opening the rice market and sending troops to Iraq. That would be the responsible attitude.