[EDITORIALS]Roh is not safe on security

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[EDITORIALS]Roh is not safe on security

Seventeen former defense ministers again asked the government yesterday to stop negotiations with the United States to regain wartime operational control of the military. “We are ready to exercise wartime control right now,” President Roh Moo-hyun has said. The former ministers criticized Mr. Roh for being caught up in North Korea’s maneuvering, designed to drive U.S. forces off the peninsula.
Yoon Kwang-ung, the current defense minister, told his predecessors that South Korea will not regain wartime operational control before 2012, but Mr. Roh said the takeover can take place at any time.
Mr. Roh apparently ignored the opinions of the former military chiefs and showed a difference in opinion from the defense minister. It is worrisome where this country is heading.
The president and the defense minister are entirely responsible. Mr. Roh’s Wednesday remarks clearly show his unrealistic and misguided view. “South Korea is the only country that does not have wartime control over its military,” Mr. Roh said, but he is wrong. NATO member countries hand over the operational control of their militaries to the U.S. military chief of NATO.
“South Korea is ready to exercise its wartime operational control right now,” Mr. Roh said, and that is also wrong. Under the current U.S.-South Korea Combined Forces Command system, Korea currently does not receive the core intelligence. When the combined forces command is dissolved, what will happen is self-explanatory. South Korea will not be able to carry out its operations alone; it also lacks the ability to gather intelligence on the North. How can the South possibly prepare for war under such circumstances?
Mr. Roh is obsessed with an absurd idea. He apparently wants to become the president who “ended South Korea’s dependency on the United States” after giving the impression that “South Korea’s military is subordinate to the U.S. military.”
Who is responsible for correcting such a wrong idea of the president? The defense minister. What did Mr. Yoon do? He told the former ministers he would deliver their advice to the president, but later rebutted them after receiving direction from the Blue House.
The Roh administration is turning a blind eye to the basic concept of security. Its coordination of internal opinion is a mess. The Roh administration does not have the ability to handle this issue. Mr. Roh has only one-and-a-half years left in his term. It would be best for the Roh administration to stop disturbing people and hand this issue to the next administration.
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