President of a strong nation

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President of a strong nation

Those seeking death will live and those seeking life will die.” So goes a famous quote from Adm. Yi Sun-shin. President Lee Myung-bak wrote this in the guestbook at the memorial to the revered 16th-century war hero in Asan, South Chungcheong. The nearby city of Cheonan gave its name to the Navy ship that sank after a mysterious explosion a month ago. The president, as the commander in chief, may have wanted to reassert his resolution in public during the mourning period for the 46 sailors lost.

The president, in charge of national security affairs, must pledge strong action against the enemy and reinforce our security posture. President Lee headed to Baengnyeong Island to oversee the rescue operation within firing range of our belligerent neighbor. There he addressed the nation and visited the sailors recovering from the Cheonan disaster. He has shown responsibility and resolution during a time of crisis and we expect him to chair the extensive military command meeting slated for May 3.

It is highly probable that North Korea is behind the sinking. The extensive defense meeting, to be attended by some 150 senior military officials, will focus on loopholes in our defense and discuss measures to address the problems. It will be an optimal stage for the president to reiterate his commitment to address the crisis. In his televised address, the president shed tears, calling out the names of the Cheonan sailors found dead or missing, offering comfort to the families and the public. At the defense strategy meeting, he must show his confidence and assure the public that he will stand at the forefront of protecting the nation from aggression.

The meeting will focus on the growing threat from North Korean asymmetric warfare tactics including guerilla activities and submarine and missile attacks. Military leaders will examine problems exposed during the Cheonan salvage operation and how to fix them. The president must be present to hear the problems and hone military discipline. In the past, the president’s presence at these meetings was purely ceremonial, but this is an emergency. The commander in chief must order the offender hunted down and proclaim that the country will not tolerate any more threats.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has come out of his usual reclusive shell, frequenting military training camps. He even went to the patrol command unit suspected of sinking the Cheonan. The North Korean military is issuing verbal attacks daily. There are few among us that feel threatened by North Korea’s provocations. But we must show that we are not weak so that North Korea won’t dare provoke us again. All eyes are on the president.
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