[FOUNTAIN]The tension of politics and the military

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[FOUNTAIN]The tension of politics and the military

“I eat breakfast 80 yards away from 4,000 Cubans who are trained to kill me... All you did was weaken a country today,” says Colonel Nathan Jessep, a naval commander portrayed by Jack Nicholson, in “A Few Good Men.” The movie depicts the tension between justice and the military by juxtaposing Colonel Jessep with Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, a navy judge advocate played by Tom Cruise.
Colonel Jessep, in charge of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, loathes those people who have no idea of the life and death situation on the front and stand by the law only. In the confrontation with the enemy, it was the field commander’s authority to order fire. Therefore, he felt it was unnecessary to report to the upper echelons.
The movie begins with the death of a private who intended to disclose the military engagement with Cuba and the commander’s failure to report to the higher authority. The law is an expression of power. In order to protect a country, power and the military need each other, but they instinctively are cautious of each other.
State power has been snatched by the military in the past. Korea has been run by civilian regimes for 17 years, but the memories of authoritarian military regimes make the military still one of the most watched groups. In the East and West alike, there are countless examples of regimes created by the military being more afraid of potential military coups.
The military is an armed force that risks the lives of soldiers on the battlefield and contends for victory. On the battlefield, the purpose justifies the means. The rhetoric of the military is quite different from that of politics.
The Korean Navy is embarrassed by the disclosure that alleged communication with a North Korean ship was not reported up the chain of command. The navy learned from a clash with the North in the Yellow Sea in 2002, where its relaxed response cost the lives of eight men, and this time it fired warning shots at a North Korean vessel that crossed the sea border. Up to this point, the military was on the good men’s side.
But the question is why the alleged communication with the North Korean ship was not reported. The Blue House has immediately launched an inquiry into the incident, largely because of the memories that the military might be challenging authority.


by Chun Young-gi

The writer is deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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