[EDITORIALS]Changing nature of U.S. tiesAs the reduction of the U.S. Forces in Korea becomes a reality, it’s causing discord in the nation. Some concerned parties question whether the government was aware of the troop reduction in advance and want the government to stop U.S. forces from leaving the country.
The government says it learned of the troop withdrawal early on, but it seems to be unable to say why it did not notify the public at the time. Also, it has not provided a clear plan on what it will do after the U.S. troops begin to leave.
However, what’s more important is that Washington is attempting to change the status of the US Forces in Korea according to its global strategies. This means we need to change the focus of our internal discussions from now on. The U.S. Forces in Korea will not remain the same all the time. Even if we demand that the USFK stay, Washington will do as it sees fit.
Of course, this does not mean that we should be unconcerned about the matter, telling the U.S. forces, “If you want to go, then do as you want.” This is an important security issue that will determine our nation’s existence.
What we have to do now is discuss with Washington how the changes in its global strategies and consequent transformation of the USFK can best serve our national interests.
To do so requires addressing the fundamental issue of how the South Korea-U.S. alliance should be transformed. We should not be overly sensitive about the smaller issue of the reduction in U.S. forces, which is estimated at several thousands of troops. We will have to engage in public discussions on the meaning of the two countries’ ties and what the new U.S. Forces in Korea should look like. The defense alliance is already 50 years old, and the circumstances that led to it have changed greatly.
Korea’s contradictory position ― which relies on the USFK’s power of deterrence but asks that the “unequal” relations between the two countries be improved ― won’t be able to sustain a relationship with the United States in the long term.
The Korean government must deliberate on the new status of the USFK. And a public consensus should be reached on what kind of USFK will be best suited for a nation surrounded by superpowers.