[EDITORIALS]A significant arrangementSouth Korea and the United States agreed to establish a new mechanism for dialogue, the Security Policy Initiative, at their annual security consultative meeting.
It is extremely significant because the future of the two countries’ alliance will be designed through the talks within one or two years. Among the issues, strategic flexibility, meaning the U.S. Forces Korea’s operations outside the peninsula, is the most important.
It is a sensitive matter, because the two countries’ interests in security may collide. If tensions between China and Taiwan are increased and the U.S. forces are moved from Korea to elsewhere in the region, our security may be threatened by China.
Due to such sensitivity, the two countries have been tightlipped about their discussions over such a change. But the situation has changed now. By employing the Security Policy Initiative, Seoul and Washington have an official framework for such discussions, and the matter can no longer be hush-hush.
The United States is firm in its intention that it wants to utilize the U.S. Forces Korea for missions outside the peninsula. At the joint statement of the security consultative meeting, the two countries said they reaffirmed the continuing importance of the strategic flexibility of U.S. troops in Korea.
The United States has already sent some U.S. troops from Korea to Iraq. It is highly likely that more such redeployments will take place. We are now facing a new security task.
Now, Seoul must mull over how it should redefine the role of the U.S. forces here and how that will benefit the nation’s interest. First, the troops’ primary role in deterring the North cannot be changed, because the capabilities of the U.S. forces are still critical.
It will become difficult for us to stop the Pentagon from redeploying its troops from Korea to other regions of its interest. But, we cannot just sit back and watch the troops leave the peninsula freely. Therefore, the two countries must come up with a thorough and careful measure to defend both countries’ interests and sovereign rights. The prior consultative requirement, established for the U.S. forces in Japan, could be a possibility.
The government must remember that securing a concrete alliance with the United States is our top priority, because Korea is surrounded by superpowers.