Consensus before dispatchThe Lee Myung-bak administration announced yesterday that it has formulated a plan to send a group of civilians to Afghanistan to support the provincial reconstruction team and troops.
Where in Afghanistan and how many will be sent has not yet been finalized.
The government is considering sending around 130 civilians and a 300-strong contingent of troops.
Afghanistan is where 23 missionaries from Korea’s Saemmul Church were kidnapped in 2007 by the Taliban. Two were murdered.
The captives - aside from two who were murdered - were released after 40 days. The government has since withdrawn its Dasan and Dongui medical support military units from Afghanistan. Two soldiers from the units died in action.
The government has decided to send troops again to this high-risk region, and there’s bound to be some controversy and debate until the deployment gets the approval of the National Assembly.
The reason for the deployment lies in the need to solidify the Korea-U.S. alliance by supporting the United States’ military campaign in the war-torn nation.
The government, however, said Washington has made no specific demand for troops and Seoul made its own decision to send personnel based on its desire to raise the country’s position in the international community.
It is not easy to accept the government’s explanation as it is. There may be unofficial and indirect requests from the United States.
The government has decided to deploy, taking into account national interests, but it will find it problematic to provide a direct explanation to the people because the controversy will be too burdensome.
Still, the government’s stance is also understandable. We support the Lee administration’s decision to deploy troops to Afghanistan.
We agree with the government’s explanation that Korea must make a contribution to the international community that matches its national power.
Above all, we believe the deployment is necessary, taking into account the gains that Korea will see from the reinforced alliance with the United States.
There are, however, still many issues to be considered before the plan is approved by the National Assembly.
Where the troops will be sent should be carefully selected based on security. Casualties may be inevitable; however the deployment is not being carried out to fight in combat but to provide support for reconstruction.
Therefore, the government must find the best way to minimize the sacrifice while maximizing efficiency.
Based on such efforts, the government must persuade the people and send the troops over after winning a consensus from the nation.