[EDITORIALS]Revisit wartime controlThe actual timing of the transfer of wartime command to South Korea has been confirmed. At the 38th annual Security Consultative Meeting in Washington, D.C., the United States and South Korean officials agreed to execute the handover sometime between Oct. 15, 2009 and March 15, 2012.
The United States didn’t plan to exercise its current wartime control forever, because it had established a plan that U.S. forces in Korea would not be used as a fixture to prevent North Korean provocations. The transfer was a matter of time. As a result, there wouldn’t have been any confusion if the matter had been carried out through detailed discussions between both sides, taking the reinforcement plans of South Korea’s military and North Korea’s actual threat into consideration.
But as the current administration and President Roh Moo-hyun persistently approached the issue with the viewpoint that it infringed on Korea’s autonomy, the U.S. attitude rapidly changed. Until the first half of this year, Washington mostly expressed concern about the issue. But it suddenly changed its mind and presented Korea with the 2009 deadline in September. The U.S. concluded that Seoul’s request to delay the handover until 2012 derived from a political intention, and was not intended to buy time to reinforce the military. There also was the judgment that Washington wanted to prevent a repeat of 2002, when anti-American sentiment hit its peak, and make sure the issue didn’t come up in South Korea’s presidential elections next year.
As a result, discussion surrounding the exact handover period has rapidly developed through political measures between the two nations. This is where the severity of the problem lies. Securing the ability to independently command Korean forces through conventional weapons is extremely difficult. Also, the recent nuclear test by North Korea has further endangered Seoul’s security.
By agreeing to the transfer of wartime command and the 2012 deadline, the current administration is blowing its own horn that it has settled the national uncertainty, along with recovering the nation’s autonomy at the same time. But what type of autonomy is it, when our nuclear reliance on the U.S. has actually increased? Also without any nuclear weapons in our arsenal, what is supposed to assure the public? We wonder if the public’s burden will actually increase as the government brings in state-of-the-art weapons that cannot act as a deterrent. There is nothing left to expect from the current administration and the issue must be discussed againwhen the next president takes office.