Military in politics must be taboo

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Military in politics must be taboo

Some people at the military’s Cyberwar Command under the direct control of the Ministry of National Defense posted political messages on the Internet via Twitter or blogs ahead of last year’s presidential election. As a result, the military’s fact-finding probe into the case could change into an official investigation. If proven true, the military can hardly avoid criticism that it engaged in political activities, following in the footsteps of the National Intelligence Service. We also wonder if the case can be successfully addressed by a military investigation alone.

Military authorities have been conducting a joint inquiry after receiving an order from Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin. In the probe, three civilian employees and a non-commissioned officer are said to have partially admitted to wrongdoing. The military plans to determine whether or not to launch a full investigation after first reporting to the minister today. A lawmaker from the opposition Democratic Party claimed that some personnel at the Cyberwar Command had retweeted or posted more than 300 political messages before the December presidential election that said, “The DP’s presidential candidate Moon Jae-in is not qualified as the head of state.”

The suspicions must be cleared through a thorough investigation because the military has a stronger obligation to maintain political neutrality than any other government organization. Political intervention by the military in particular is a taboo that must not be broken, considering the long shadow over our modern history. In particular, as specified by the Constitution: “The military has a sacred mission of carrying out its duty to safeguard national security and defense. It must keep political independence.”

If the Cyberwar Command had been systematically engaged in political activities beyond the individual realm, it would constitute a serious violation of the Constitution.

The military said it may not announce the results of the probe if they prove to be trivial. But it must not forget that this case could shatter people’s trust in the military. There are suspicions that the Cyberwar Command could have worked together with the NIS’s agents before the last elections.

Everything depends on whether the military can investigate the case as objectively as possible. The prosecution’s investigation of the NIS’s alleged meddling in the presidential election only fueled political controversy after the police covered it up and scaled down their checks. If the military cannot dig up the truth, the case inevitably goes to the prosecution. The military must keep that in mind.

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