[EDITORIALS]Yoon’s remarks untimelyDefense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung made inappropriate remarks yesterday regarding the takeover of wartime control in a press conference that was held one day after former defense ministers gave their opinions to their successor. The timing and contents of the remarks were so inadequate that it seems doubtful that Mr. Yoon is the right person for the post.
On Aug 2, 13 former defense ministers delivered their concerns over current national security to the incumbent minister. They explained logically from different angles why a plan to take over operational command in wartime is extremely harmful to national security, particularly after the North launched its missiles last month. Mr. Yoon promised he would transmit their concerns to the president. The next day, however, a press conference was hurriedly arranged at Mr. Yoon’s request. He said “The takeover of operational command during wartime benefits both South Korea and the United States. The government plans to take over wartime control by 2012.”
Mr. Yoon ignored the former defense ministers’ advice, rather than transmitting it to the president. A deep-rooted problem in this administration, that of not listening to anyone outside, has appeared again. The former defense ministers have as sufficient knowledge and skills on national security as Mr. Yoon has, or probably even more than he has. Some of them have served as deputy commanders of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command. Mr. Yoon should have understood why these former defense ministers were so concerned that they had to go to him to deliver their thoughts.
It is not a good thing that our military officials are sharply divided. One group says Korea is safe and the other group says it is not. It is not right that the defense of this country is driven by the code of only one individual.
Minister Yoon even divided the former defense ministers into two groups, saying “Those who worked as defense ministers a long time ago opposed Korea’s takeover of wartime command, but the ones who held the job recently did not oppose it.” The primary duty of a defense minister is to block the intervention of political logic into military affairs. If a defense minister serves as a mere messenger dispatched from the political power holder to the military, it is not helpful for the minister himself or for national security.
The defense minister should think seriously about the concerns of former defense ministers and of many other people about the plan to take over wartime control.