[EDITORIALS]Foreign policy uncertainty loomsThe controversy over the Blue House inspection of foreign ministry officials has ended in the resignation of Yoon Young-kwan as foreign minister. There seem to be two interpretations of the matter. In accepting Mr. Yoon’s resignation, the Blue House said that there had been confusion over foreign policy and a lack of leadership. The foreign ministry, on the other hand, believes that proponents of an “independent” foreign policy beat out proponents of a solid “US.-South Korea alliance.”
It is inappropriate for government officials to make derogatory remarks about the nation’s chief executive, both in formal and private settings. But it is a matter that the foreign ministry should handle; and the matter does not seem to require the minister to step down. Thus, it seems highly likely that the minister’s resignation is a byproduct of conflict between the foreign ministry and the Blue House.
President Roh Moo-hyun and the Blue House deny that the discord between the two lies at the heart of the problem. Then, what exactly did the senior Blue House secretary for personnel affairs mean when he said, “Certain foreign ministry officials did not sufficiently understand the spirit and the orientation of the ‘independent’ foreign policy of the participatory government”? In his resignation speech, Mr. Yoon stressed that “Even when peace is accomplished on the Korean Peninsula, we must make use of the U.S.-Korea alliance.” It is not difficult to infer what transpired by looking at the two remarks.
This strife between the so-called independent policymakers and policymakers who support a solid U.S-South Korean alliance is anachronistic. Alliances are ultimately formed and strengthened to maximize, not sell out, the national interest. Foreign policy must rest on cool-headed calculations of what would promote the national interest. That is the key to a country’s survival. But sadly, our reality is a dogmatic dichotomizing where alliance proponents are cast as anti-nationalistic and the proponents of an independent foreign policy as the patriots.
Will the administration name a new foreign minister who will duly carry out its independent line of foreign policy? What will other countries think? What is our national interest? Uncertainty looms over the future of Korea’s foreign policy.