[EDITORIALS]The correct decision on IraqThe National Assembly has finally passed the motion to send more troops to Iraq. It has taken five months to do so since the United States asked Korea to help with the post-war restoration and stabilization. This will involve more than 3,600 soldiers, the largest dispatch of our troops abroad since the Vietnam War. Korea’s contingent of troops will be the third-largest in Iraq, after the United States and Britain.
Korea can now actively contribute to the rebuilding of Iraq. And by sending troops to a region of critical interest in the creation of the post-Cold War international order, Korea will be able to exercise responsibilities and rights befitting a country with the world’s 12th-largest economy. In addition, by not turning our back on an ally who shed blood for us when we were at the point of destruction, we have maintained our image as a country that keeps faith.
Though there was much trial and error in this process, it is fortunate that the motion finally passed by an overwhelming majority in the National Assembly, representing the opinion of the Korean people. A major issue in the Korea-U.S. relationship has been solved, and a new leap of progress in the alliance has been made possible.
Of course, much lies ahead. First, we must redouble our efforts to win the understanding of the Arab and Islamic population of the world before dispatching the troops. For this, not only the Ministry of National Defense but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and related government agencies should come up with active and creative measures. Also, the troops should undergo educational programs to ensure that there are no incidents of cultural friction with the Iraqis. Most of all, we must put all our efforts into minimizing the possibility of casualties.
We must also try to achieve practical, economic gains, as the possibility of our businesses participating in restoration projects increases with the dispatch of our troops. Our military was favorably evaluated for the job it did in East Timor by befriending local residents and helping maintain peace and restore order. We hope this mission will also end successfully, and that we will receive a favorable evaluation from the newly restored and free Iraq and the international community, which in turn would enable us to grow stronger.