[EDITORIALS]Word games don’t helpBan Ki-moon, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, admitted there are problems in the current state of Korea-U.S. relations at a conference at the Kwanghun Club in central Seoul. He said, “Unfortunately, there are differences in the perception of the current situation by Korea and the United States.” He also said, “This summit meeting between Korea and the United States is far more important than before.”
The day before this statement, President Roh said there was no problem in the Korea-U.S. alliance at a press conference at an office of the Korean Broadcasting System. The president said he never had a problem whenever he met President George W. Bush.
Still, the minister says there are differences in perception between the two countries. Who should we believe? The officials at the foreign affairs ministry argue that different perceptions do not necessarily mean there are problems in the alliance.
However, the word game of “problems or differences” has no meaning. That cannot resolve the essential problems of the alliance.
The Roh administration has cried out about self-reliance, displayed a weak stance on national security regarding the North and perceived the history of the South Korea-U.S. alliance in the wrong way. Roh has had anti-American feelings, which are well represented in his remark, “What is the big deal about being anti-American?” All this led to the cracks in the alliance.
U.S. government officials are careful with their remarks, worrying about the results they can cause. However, American experts on Korea have long sent warnings. When the Korea-U.S. alliance is already shaking, the handover of wartime operational command can weaken the combined military capacity of the two countries even further, psychologically and physically.
Edward Feulner, the president of the Heritage Foundation, said yesterday, “It is time to focus on whether the transformation policy makes Koreans safer and whether that intensifies the alliance.”
President Roh maintains there are no problems, underlining self-reliance repeatedly. It is unclear whether he does not know what is obvious to others, or deliberately downsizes the urgency and importance, or says so although he knows there are problems.
Denying the existing problems does not improve Korea-U.S. relations, which are increasingly worsening. He should take action, instead of repeating the same word, in order to build trust.