[EDITORIALS]Lots of red herringsThe failure to report a hotline message from a North Korean patrol boat up the military chain of command is escalating to an important issue. President Roh Moo-hyun gave an order yesterday for an additional investigation, saying, “Accuracy is vital in the military’s reports to the people and to the president.”
First of all, it was a mistake that the North Korean message was not reported to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In such a sensitive area as the Northern Limit Line, it was wrong that the Navy decided to ignore the message from a North Korean boat. Because of the omission, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “The North Korean patrol boats didn’t respond to our calls.” For their part, the officers concerned should be held accountable.
There is also a problem in the way the Blue House and the ruling party reacted to the incident. While the essence of the incident, the intrusion across the NLL, is lost, a side issue, whether the North Korean message was reported or not, is blown up into a controversy. Whether the message was reported or not internally is a completely different matter from the fact that the North’s boats intruded across the NLL. The essence of the question is the intrusion of the North. The Ministry of Defense must first clarify this, and then investigate whether the hotline message was reported up the chain of command or not. The scene unfolding now appears to be as if the Defense Ministry and the Blue House are only trying to find fault with our own military.
It was wrong that the Defense Ministry made public the message as soon as it turned out that there was a hotline message from the North, and thus, it made our military seem as if it did something wrong. Before the contents of the message were known, it seemed as if our military responded in a hurry. The Navy insisted that the contents of the message should have been ignored under the circumstances. If that is the case, we should first listen to our soldiers. The North Korean message that claimed the intruders were Chinese fishing boats was a lie.
Especially, it is wrong to portray the omission of a report as a challenge to the president’s authority. A governing party lawmaker said, “The military leaders above the rank of brigadier general have been in the leadership since the time of the military regimes.” We wonder whether she was out of her mind to say that.