[EDITORIALS]Seoul must decide on troopsThe government has disclosed details about the U.S. request for more troops for Iraq. The revelation seemed like a prelude to an appeal to the people about the matter before making a decision. In April, the nation was split about sending troops to Iraq, largely due to the government’s lukewarm attitude. Explaining the U.S. request, therefore, is an appropriate change.
Before making a decision, there is one thing that the government must make clear. It should not let endless debate continue under the justification that it wants to listen to public opinion. The administration explained the details of the U.S. request, and it has the most information about the issue. The government must make its attitude clear based on such information. If the government encourages debate without having a viewpoint, it will have to submit to criticism for being irresponsible.
The government must make a comprehensive evaluation about what national benefits the dispatch of troops would bring. It must calmly study international opinion about the move and what we would gain from the United States. The mutual defense treaty with the United States and the alliance with it will also be an important basis for the evaluation. Such a calculation has to be the responsibility of the Roh administration.
After making an evaluation, the government must make the outcome public. It should try to persuade the people and ask for understanding and support. It should not leave the issue to aimless public debate and follow the decision. If the government’s decision does not match public opinion, it must try to persuade the people with confidence.
The United States has asked for a number of troops similar to the Polish Light Infantry Division, and the financial burden for such a dispatch will be high. On the other hand, North Korea’s nuclear problem, realignment of U.S. forces on the peninsula, defense capability reinforcement and participation in the project of rebuilding Iraq are issues for which we need Washington’s cooperation. We want to listen to the government’s comprehensive judgment.