[EDITORIALS]An alliance going out of tuneThere are some confusing discrepancies between Korean and U.S. claims about the reduction of U.S. troops in Korea. A Blue House official said the U.S. government first informed the Korean government of the troop reduction plans last September, refusing Seoul’s request to make the plans public. But a White House official claimed at a meeting with Korean journalists that there had been no one-sided order to keep the plans quiet. Who’s telling the truth? The government must produce a clear explanation promptly.
The troop reduction is a crucial issue that will change the framework of our national security. To see officials of the two governments out of tune on such an important question makes the public very nervous. Have Korean-U.S. relations, as some assert, taken a wrong turn?
The White House official added that the United States might have reconsidered the troop withdrawal had his Korean counterparts said that Korea wanted the troops to stay. This could be interpreted as meaning that the present Korean government gave the United States the impression that it didn’t think much of the role of U.S. troops on the peninsula. Recently, Mitchell Reiss, director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department, said that Korea is omitted from a list of “key bilateral relationships” for the United States, a list that includs Japan, China, India and Pakistan. What is happening to Korean-U.S. relations, and what is our government’s blueprint for the security of our nation?
The troop relocation is part of a global strategy, so there is no stopping it. However, it is the hope of the majority of the people that the redeployment will be implemented smoothly and with close cooperation, based on the spirit of the alliance. The government must not only make public the talks’ procedures, but also explain the U.S. strategy on Korea and the government’s plan to cope with it.
President Roh, on the occasion of Memorial Day on Sunday, said, “It is natural that we defend our national security with our own hands.” At the same time, he said that we have to keep the South Korea-U.S. alliance sound and strong. We expect that the follow-up measures necessary to implement the president’s words will be taken without fail sooner or later.