[EDITORIALS]Critical talks on the allianceThis week and next week, Korea and the United States will meet in Singapore and Seoul in order to set a new blueprint for the alliance between the two countries and discuss security in the East Asian region. In Singapore, the two nations’ defense ministers will talk about security issues in Asia, the Korea-US alliance, and the operational role of the U.S. forces stationed in Korea. In Seoul, military and diplomatic experts from both sides will meet for the ninth Future of the Alliance meeting.
Although the main object of the talks in Seoul will be the movement of Yongsan Garrison, because Korea and the United States had agreed earlier to establish a separate channel to discuss the reduction of U.S. forces stationed here, it is likely that the Seoul meeting will be the first meeting to deal with the issue.
Everyone agrees that in order to cope with new international security issues, U.S. strategy has to change, and so does the Korea-U.S. alliance. Nevertheless, for most Koreans to watch a real reduction of U.S. forces stationed here and see a fundamental change in the alliance between the two countries is a sad thing. It is undeniable that with the North Korean nuclear crisis still in process, the alliance on somewhat shaky terms and the most liberal Korean administration ever in place, having to readjust the nature of the alliance is worrisome. Especially when the Roh government emphasizes self-defense and says it will raise its voice when it needs to, one cannot hide the anxiety. It is exactly this attitude of the Roh administration that might breach the trust that has been built up over a long time in the Korea-U.S. alliance.
These two sets of meetings must be part of drawing up of a grand strategy for the future Korea-U.S. alliance. Needless to say, the timing and size of the reduction of the U.S. forces has to take place with consideration for the security situation on the peninsula.
Instead of just trying to fill the hole left by the reduction of U.S. forces, we need a blueprint that encompasses all other aspects of our security. The government has to publicize how much of an increase in our defense budget is needed and build a consensus. This is a task of the utmost importance. No mistakes can be allowed to happen.