[EDITORIALS]Security falls victim to politics

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[EDITORIALS]Security falls victim to politics

U.S. forces in Korea will be completely withdrawn from Seoul, and only 50 liaison officers, who will work with Korean military authorities, will be left in Yongsan. Many people who worry about our national security had hoped that the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command and the UN Command would remain in Seoul, but they were denied.
The immediate concern is whether the move will affect security. The Ministry of Defense says there is nothing to worry about because of information technology developments and improved long-distance strike capabilities. If there’s nothing to worry about, why did Prime Minister Goh Kun ask the U.S. ambassador to postpone the realignment of U.S. soldiers until the end of the North Korean nuclear crisis? Why did 147 lawmakers sign a petition against the move?
The cost is also a problem. The Koreans must bear $3 billion toward the costs of moving, and that doesn’t include the cost of filling the void left by American troops. With the U.S. 2d Infantry Division’s move south of the Han River, the geographical “tripwire,” which guarantees automatic U.S. military involvement when crossed, won’t be activated in the event of a North Korean invasion of Seoul.
It is difficult to calculate how much it will cost to make up for the loss of military capability. It is estimated that buying military equipment held by the 2d Division will cost more than $5 billion. In addition, if we take into account the economic effects of the move, which will unnerve foreign investors, the total cost will reach incalculable amounts.
Although it is apparent that holding part of the American forces in Yongsan is in the nation’s interest, why will they be withdrawn completely? We are forced to conclude that the dispute over diplomatic strategies that resulted in the foreign minister’s resignation was also a factor in the negotiations with the U.S. military.
The Americans asked for 227 acres for the Combined Forces Command and the UN Command, but our side insisted on 138 acres. It is absurd that our nation abandoned what was in its best interests because of 89 acres. This blunder provides more fodder for those who accuse the Roh administration of damaging national security.
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