Posted May. 16, 2005 23:33,
There is a serious problem with the arguments and the way opinions were demonstrated during the May 15 protest, in which a crowd of 3,000 composed of civic groups and university students demanded to shut down the USFK Patriot Battery base and swarmed Gwangjus Air Force 1st Fighter Wing.
First of all, the 16 new PAC-III launchers assigned to two Patriot batteries were urgently deployed last November to fill, at least partially, the vacuum left by the reduction of the USFK. The Patriot missiles are a key component in intercepting attacks from North Koreas large number of mid to long-range missiles.
The acquisition of Patriot missiles is also a critical priority of the MNDs (Ministry of National Defense) five year plan (2006 to 2010) to enhance its forces. The MND initially planned to buy 48 PAC-III launchers at a cost of 3.4 trillion won, but due to budget constraints, it changed its direction towards buying 48 older-model PAC-II launchers from Germany for approximately 1.1 trillion won. The two PAC-III batteries deployed in Gwangju saves us over one trillion won in budget, excluding operating costs.
It is also wrong to protest by tearing down and trampling fences. American public sentiment toward Korea has greatly worsened with images from CNN showing the Stars and Stripes being torn or burned at candlelight vigils, or university students belonging to Hanchongryun (Federation of Korean Universities) intruding into a U.S. firing range and shouting anti-American chants on top of an armored vehicle. Now, anti-Korean sentiments are spreading fast in the U.S. Congress, regardless of party.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced the BRAC 2005(Base Realignment and Closure 2005) on May 13, which calls for the closure of about 180 bases in the mainland U.S. It is reported that congressmen and senators in Washington are trying to find ways to shut down U.S. bases abroad and bring them back to their home state. Unless the civic groups are claiming to renounce security altogether, their radical demonstration is difficult to be accepted for any justification. Radical demonstration that do not care for the countrys reality only harms the national interest by amplifying anxiety in the lives of Koreans and the Korean economy in the midst of the world.