[EDITORIALS]Time to decide on troopsThe United Nations Security Council Thursday unanimously approved a revised resolution authorizing American-led multinational forces in Iraq. Now it is time for the government to decide whether to dispatch Korean troops to Iraq. According to polls, over 70 percent of the people said they would support sending troops if the UN resolution passed. As President Roh Moo-hyun is listening to the opinions of people in various fields, it is only a matter of time before the government makes a decision.
This has been debated for more than a month. Both sides have expressed their views sufficiently. As time passes, the debate tends to be emotionally charged. Prolonging debate on an issue on which opinion has been fully expressed will only lead to division and harm the national interest. If we decide not to dispatch troops, we have to give the United States time to seek an alternative solution. When Mr. Roh meets President George W. Bush Monday, he has to give him an answer.
We think sending troops is the inevitable choice. And we are of the opinion that it is better to do so as a 50-year ally of the United States. We should not cut down the meaning of the dispatch by making clumsy excuses or showing narrow-mindedness.
We will need time for preparations. Through strict selection of troops, training and a thorough survey of the area where they will be dispatched, a plan to minimize damage to our military should be prepared. The earlier survey team to Iraq was criticized for being slipshod. Once the decision is made, a new team must be sent to the area where the troops will be stationed, and a precise survey should be made. And they must work out plans under which our military can operate without provoking the local population.
Once the president makes a decision, there should be no more wasteful controversy. Rather, the debate should be on how we can minimize damage to our troops. The government must fully explain the diplomatic and economic gains we will get. It must also negotiate with the United States so that we can get such benefits as participation in rehabilitation projects in Iraq.