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[Opinion] Withdrawal of Overseas U.S. Forces

Posted May. 02, 2003 22:24,   


George W. Bush set a new definition of U.S. superpower as he declared the war on Iraq was over. “(In the past) a country used military might to destruct and end a regime in a country, now we can wield even mightier power to attack whatever regime deemed as threatening and hostile and liberate the country and its people.” Later, British BBC commented on Bush`s address by saying that the remark amounts to the following message. “Iraq was the first case in which the U.S. applied its preemptive attack doctrine, aimed at what it calls rogue states trying to develop their own weapons of mass destruction. And it is now more than willing to do the same upon seeing another Iraq.” Bush landed on aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln wearing a pilot suit, to showcase his administration`s will to continue engaging in what it says maintaining peace and order in the world.

Now that it enjoys the unilateral victory that came after the unilateral attack, the country has begun to put its words into practice. It announced a plan to withdraw its troops from Saudi Arabia last week and closed the last U.S. troop facility in Turkey two days ago. Although the idea of relocating troops overseas has long been developed within the administration, it is still seen as a drastic move to withdraw troops from its two key allies without second thought. Then, the next will be troops in Germany and in Korea. Given that it has been talking about a withdrawal plan for some time, it seems only a matter of time

Turkey and Saudi Arabia offered beachheads for U.S. forces after the 1991 Gulf War so that they could watch Iraq closely for a possible attack. The forces stationed in Turkey patrolled the no-fly zone in the northern part of Iraq and those in Saudi Arabia the no-fly zone in south. They often engaged in clashes with Iraq and learned from the experience how to fight with Iraqis. Although its role seems to be reduced after the war in Iraq, it is no small change that the U.S. is pulling back its forces from key Islamic state Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the only Islamic member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Saudi Arabia and Turkey opposed the U.S. attack on Iraq. The withdrawal, therefore, is widely seen as a punitive measure against their non-cooperative manner. In particular, the withdrawal from Saudi seems to have something to do with the so-called `democracy domino` strategy in the Middle East. Then, what will the future of U.S. forces in Korea be like? “Sometimes it seems that we need more coordination (with the U.S.),” admitted President Roh as he appeared in the TV debate. Even so, there is a reason why the U.S. forces should not be a unilateral issue. The forces in Turkey and Saudi Arabia were for the purpose of attacks, but those in Korea is here to deter a war on the Korean Peninsula.

Bang Hyung-nam, Editorial Writer, hnbhang@donga.com