[EDITORIALS]Ignoring the public, and truth

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[EDITORIALS]Ignoring the public, and truth

The Blue House has gone on the offensive against critics of Seoul’s bid to regain wartime control of its troops. President Roh Moo-hyun said, “The issue of the transfer of wartime control was decided by the Roh Tae-woo administration and taken on partially by civilian governments, but then halted.” The Blue House is making the point that the bid didn’t start in this administration. Song Min-soon, the Blue House’s security advisor, said NATO member nations control all of its troops except the 10 percent that are dispatched to NATO. Such comments distort the truth through the usage of vague language and by deliberately omitting key facts.
It is true that under the Roh Tae-woo administration in the early ’90s Seoul and Washington discussed the issue of transferring the peacetime as well as the wartime control of South Korean troops to Seoul. As a result, it was agreed that Seoul would take sole peacetime control of its troops in 1992. Nevertheless, when the North Korean nuclear crisis erupted in 1993, the efforts to transfer wartime control were halted. At the time, a plan to reduce U.S. forces stationed here was in process but was also stopped. The wartime control of South Korean troops was closely linked to the reduction of U.S. forces.
Despite this, the president is arguing that this was already a done deal under the Roh Tae-woo administration. Then the transfer of control was only limited to the peace time control, but the president made it appear as if wartime control was also included.
The argument by Mr. Song is not much different. He does not refer to a case in which a NATO member nation is being attacked. He disregarded that the wartime control of an attacked NATO member nation is handled by the NATO commander, and only discussed in the cases of NATO nations which are not under attack.
This administration is also turning a blind eye to the burden of the people who are forced to pay hundreds of billions of won in taxes for the defense budget in order to obtain military capabilities suited for full control of the troops. As it is, the administration is out to promote its ideology of “self-reliance” and mark this as its achievement.
In that regard, the remarks recently in Seoul by Henry J. Hyde, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ committee on international relations, should give us a clue.
“Some politicians find anti-Americanism profitable until they get into real trouble, then they come to us for money or military assistance.”

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