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[Editorial] President Roh and the Zaytun Unit in One

Posted December. 09, 2004 22:31,   


President Roh Moo-hyun and the Zaytun Unit soldiers in the same combat uniforms exclaimed cheers of encouragement together. President Roh hugged and cheered on a young soldier, and was even moved to tears. The president showed appreciation for their service, and the commander pledged, “We will do our best until we return, owing to this encouragement.” These are the touching moments from the president’s visit to Arbil, Iraq, where he met the Zaytun Unit soldiers who are conducting humanitarian and reconstruction activities. Watching TV, the people in the home country were also able to sense the passionate atmosphere there, filled with excitement and national pride.

As the supreme commander of the Korean Army, the president’s visit to the Zaytun Unit was necessary. With the visit, he successfully delivered the message to the soldiers that Korea is proud of their service and will do its best for their safety. For the two hours the president spent with the soldiers, the morale of the unit was raised to the highest level.

Unfortunately, the Zaytun Unit has not been properly appreciated so far. First of all, it was dispatched without a decent farewell ceremony. Even in the U.S., which asked for the dispatch of the troops, the unit was reduced to a matter of concern of a very limited range of people. During the meeting with the delegation of Korean lawmakers to the U.S., the next National Security Advisor admitted that the U.S. officials did not pay enough effort for the dispatch of Korean troops to be well-recognized by the U.S.

As the president said, the toil of the Zaytun Unit members is national leverage. Operations in Iraq should be carried out with caution for security reasons, but there is no reason that Korea should not feel right about the dispatch and the operations themselves. Korea should not waste the efforts of the soldiers and should use the leverage of sending 3,600 soldiers to Iraq properly in foreign policy, especially in the relations with the U.S.

President Roh showed his leadership through his visit to Arbil. His words, “I will be a good president” give hope to people. His speech that “people correct the errors of the president” also sounds meaningful. If the president comes closer to his people like he did with the Zaytun Unit despite the difficulties, he will be able to be a good president who can move his people.