No clearer on AfghanistanThe United States has revealed that it hopes Korea will financially support its mission in Afghanistan.
“Countries that cannot afford to dispatch troops because of military or political reasons should at least offer financial assistance,” U.S. Defense Department press secretary Geoffrey Morrell - spokesperson for U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who visited Korea Wednesday - said at a meeting with Korean journalists a few days ago,
Morrell also said all countries that are receiving the privileges of world peace and stability, including Korea, are obliged to help out in Afghanistan.
One interpretation of this statement is that the United States realizes it will be difficult for Korea to commit troops to Afghanistan and is trying at least to receive financial assistance, but we do not think this is necessarily the case. The U.S. is indecisive about what to do in Afghanistan and its policies are not clear.
On the one hand, the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is requesting an increase in military power, but U.S. President Barack Obama is unable to make a decision. The revival of the Vietnam War nightmare is growing and the public is getting tired of the war.
Of course, if the Obama administration does not have a set Afghanistan strategy, it is difficult for the U.S. to ask its allies to dispatch troops. But all that could change it the U.S. comes up with a more decisive plan.
In Korea, sending troops to Afghanistan would be very controversial. We need to maintain loyalty to our biggest ally and we cannot give up our responsibility as a member of international society.
But the United States cannot blatantly demand military contributions, either.
Considering the situation, it can be said that the United States has lessened the burden on the Korean government by guiding the way to financial contributions.
In fact, Korea has made an embarrassingly small amount of financial contributions to Afghanistan.
The scale of Korea’s support has been raised from the original plan of $30 million to $74.1 million, but it is still miserly compared to other countries.
The amount of financial support promised to Afghanistan by Korea from the start of the war until 2011 is $130 million, which is only 0.14 percent of the amount promised by other countries. Japan has already given $1.79 billion of the $2 billion it promised.
Dispatch of troops aside, Korea at least needs to expand its financial aid to a level fitting for its position on the world stage.