[EDITORIALS]Troop pullout: We asked for itRecent remarks by top Korean and U.S. officials are worth repeating here. Moon Chung-in, president of the Presidential Committee on the Northeast Asian Cooperation Initiative, said, “I heard from a senior U.S. official that the decisive reason the proposed dates of the U.S. troop reduction in South Korea were moved up was the televised incident in which a U.S. military police officer was bleeding after being hit by a stone.”
What’s more, Christopher Hill, the new U.S. ambassador to Korea, is said to have told both governing and opposition party lawmakers that anti-Korean feelings exist not only among conservatives in the Republican Party, but also among some in the Democratic Party.
Mr. Moon’s remark debunks the government’s explanation that the U.S. troop reduction in Korea is part of Washington’s global strategy. Apparently, Korean anti-American demonstrations triggered the troop removal. What Mr. Hill said is also important in this regard. Some in the Korean government say that if the Democrat John Kerry wins the presidential election, the troop reduction will be readjusted. But Mr. Hill’s remark suggests that such hopes are not warranted.
Our government should understand the reality of South Korea-U.S. relations. If the troop reduction proceeds as scheduled, by late next year, then Seoul will be faced with a heavy burden. Actually, the burden is materializing now, as seen in the increase to the defense budget. Even the president has said, “What is wrong with some anti-American demonstrations?” We believe that is how and why we face today’s situation.
Nobody wants foreign soldiers in his own land. But if national interest requires it, then the government and the leader of the nation should accept it. The Korean government, which essentially said, “If you want to go, then do whatever you want to do,” now asks Washington to postpone the reduction. This attitude confuses us.
We are concerned about the recent rallies in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi province, opposing the relocation of U.S. troops there. The government should persuade the residents of Pyeongtaek to accept this agreement between Washington and Seoul. This is not regional business, but national. The presence of U.S. troops is key to the nation’s security. We should not bring misfortune upon ourselves.