[EDITORIALS]Now that the crisis has comeA substantial withdrawal of U.S. forces stationed on the peninsula has become a reality. The U.S. has notified Korea that 12,500 U.S. troops will leave by the end of next year. If a perfect contingency plan exists, why would anyone bother to be concerned, but watching the recent developments regarding the matter, one has to worry. Especially the unexpected speed of the reduction is of great concern because it is going to leave a big hole in our security. It does not help that our own government’s explanations regarding this matter have been inconsistent.
The biggest problem is that our government is losing trust at home and abroad. Starting last year, through press reports or hints from senior U.S. officials, there were abundant signals of a reduction of U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula. Nevertheless, our government kept denying those reports until it finally happened for real. In addition, a senior U. S. government official has denied the claim by a Blue House official that the U.S. didn’t want the matter to be made public. It is no wonder that the claim by the defense minister that the timing of the reduction can be adjusted falls on suspicious ears. Right now, only a shadow of our alliance is left, and the relationship has become emotional.
The government needs to make public what has taken place so far regarding the reduction of U. S. forces. Who was telling the truth needs to be determined.
Because the realignment of U.S. forces on the peninsula is part of a global strategy, the reduction cannot be reversed. Nevertheless, it was the people’s desire that the reduction should take place at a pace that was in line with our ability to bear the financial burden that comes with it and considered the North Korean military threat. Now, this has become impossible, and we are left on our own to provide security for our country and find a way to survive. The urgent thing is to secure military power that can counter the North Korean military threat. In security there are no holes allowed, no matter how small they are. If the 2d Infantry Division leaves, we are vulnerable to long-range artillery from the North. In order to counter that threat, we have to purchase multiple launch rocket systems and accelerate our plans to obtain a certain ability in self-defense by the year 2010. An astronomical amount of money is needed to achieve that.
Our government was notified last June of the planned withdrawal of U.S. forces. Internally, the government should have worked out a plan to cope with that change. What we need are more than abstract phrases such as “cooperative self-reliant defense policy,” or “self-defense within the next ten years.” The government has to let the people know how much they have to shoulder and how it intends to come up with the money. It’s the first step toward regaining public confidence. Based on that trust, the government has to come up with a solution that solves all aspects of the problem that will be created by the withdrawal.
An alliance policy is the best method to reduce the burden of security. Our government has to delay the timing of the planned withdrawal until there is a proper plan in place, and it should negotiate so that the intelligence system that costed an enormous amount of U.S. money will remain here. Seoul needs to regain the trust of the United States.