[EDITORIALS]Time for political maturityLawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties have called for the withdrawal of the Zaytun Division from Iraq. The government has already revealed its plan to extend the troops’ deployment, during meetings with its U.S. counterparts. The arguments for withdrawal have some basis but we believe calling for immediate withdrawal is too hasty and near-sighted. We have sent our troops to many places in recent years. Hundreds of our soldiers have been dispatched to Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Georgia, Liberia, Burundi and Sudan.
In the past, we have sent soldiers to Vietnam and, during the Gulf War, we sent troops to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Our soldiers were sent to troubled areas, such as Somalia, Angola, East Timor and West Sahara.
We have benefited from sending our troops overseas. Our troops’ peacekeeping activities in East Timor were considered a good example for international society. In the Vietnam War, we gained political, economic and military benefits.
The Zaytun Division in Iraq has also developed a good reputation among local people for its voluntary work.
Two and a half years ago, the government said that if it sent the troops to Iraq it would make U.S. hardliners less agitated about North Korea.
The government emphasized that point in an attempt to persuade domestic politicians who opposed sending the troops to Iraq.
But that was not the only reason for sending our army. The government made the decision because it needed to keep good relations with the United States and it believed that it should make a contribution to international stability.
The government also thought there were political and economic benefits it could gain from the move.
People who call for the withdrawal of the Zaytun Division seem to view our troops in Iraq as mercenaries of the United States. They argue that many countries have withdrawn from Iraq and their relationship with Washington has not worsened as a result.
They also maintain that sending our soldiers to Iraq has not helped to resolve the North Korea issue peacefully.
It is regrettable that our political leaders lack the maturity to see that keeping our troops in Iraq is a way for us to increase our role in international society at a time when our country has just produced the next secretary general of the United Nations.