[EDITORIALS]Firm leadership is neededPresident Roh Moo-hyun at a press conference on Monday and at a meeting with political leaders expressed his intent to take the nuclear bomb testing as an opportunity to revise the current government’s engagement policy toward North Korea. Yet President Roh called the nuclear bomb testing in North Korea a minor matter.
It is clear that North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons means it will have overwhelming dominance over South Korea’s competitiveness and conventional military power. Additionally, it will sharply weaken the deterrence against North Korea’s provocations toward South Korea, which is based on the United States’ security commitment that comes from its alliance with South Korea.
Under such a security crisis, there are possible dangers of creating a direct economic burden, such as the reduction of foreign investment. Moreover, it is likely to increase South Korea’s security burden as it will start a competition in the North Asian region to secure nuclear weapons. Additionally, the international nuclear security guarantee system based on the non-proliferation treaty is seriously threatened by the act in North Korea. It is on this ground that the United Nations Security Council is holding immediate discussion on placing heavy sanctions against North Korea while many countries are criticizing North Korea without hesitation.
Yet President Roh is showing signs of jumping into the very center of the debate with every political party . What is the use of debating over how the engagement policy has failed if he understands that the policy is in a situation where it can no longer continue?
Even when taking into account that the comment President Roh made was a rebuttal to the opposition party leaders’ assertion that the ministers for security should be completely reshuffled, it is not a comment that he should have uttered during a meeting whose intention was to fine-tune policies on North Korea. The public cannot help but be confused as President Roh acknowledges that the matter is serious and then also mentions that it is a minor issue.
As the president has said, being too insensitive on security is troubling, but being excessively sensitive on security is just as troubling. If this is what he believes it would have been more comforting to the public if the president requested that the public remain calm, as the government would well manage the situation even though it is a serious matter. We miss a leadership that takes firm responsibility on national security in time of crisis.