[EDITORIALS]Roh’s addressPresident Roh Moo-hyun revealed the direction of government policies in his speech to commemorate Liberation Day.
He stressed many aspects of his policies, such as keeping the peace on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea’s return to the six-party nuclear talks, the co-existence of Northeast Asian countries, the need for Japanese apologies for its past wrongdoings and narrowing differences in Koreans’ opinions through dialogue.
On these issues, he took reasonable positions, but he sent out confusing messages on Korea-U.S. relationships. Promoting a free trade agreement with Washington, he said our country needs to open its doors to become an advanced country, and that the agreement was a prerequisite to becoming more competitive.
But on wartime operational command, he clung to sovereignty and self-reliance. He even viewed the commander of the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command having wartime control as an abnormal thing that violates the spirit of the Constitution. As many experts say, Korea’s cession of wartime control to the United States does not mean that the United States would exercise it regardless of Korea’s intentions and thoughts. Presidents of the two countries consult each other on strategy in an emergency, and the commander of the Combined Forces Command implements the strategies agreed on when wielding the wartime control. Wartime operational control is about how strategies are carried out. It is not about giving a Korean president’s authority over his military to Washington.
Thus, President Roh’s remarks in relation to the Constitution distorted the system of cooperation on national security between Korea and the United States.
Many countries form military alliances or hand over part of wartime control, looking at potential threats on their national security, gains or interest for their military, historical relations or rules of international society. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and United Nations peacekeeping forces are good examples of this.
Opening doors to the outside world and cooperating with other countries are totally different from sovereignty or national self-reliance.
It is hard to understand why President Roh disapproves of U.S. troops in Korea while pursuing a free trade agreement with Washington.
The president’s confusing messages divide public opinion sharply.