May 20, 2010 12:59
Investigators probing the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan discovered the propeller of the torpedo at the bottom of the West Sea where the ship sank. The propellers of torpedoes usually bounce off the main body during an explosion, and investigators guessed correctly that they would still be around on the sea floor. After comparing and analyzing the serial number on the propeller with that of a North Korean torpedo the military got hold of seven years ago, investigators apparently reached the conclusion that the font and the way the characters are engraved are identical. Traces of gunpowder found in the funnel of the Cheonan were also found to be the same as those used in North Korean torpedoes. Investigators in fact discovered North Korea's fingerprints on the weapon.
The government announces those findings on Thursday. The country must then make an urgent decision. A torpedo attack that split a Navy vessel in half and took the lives of 46 sailors is tantamount to a declaration of war. Any failure to respond properly to such an act would only encourage North Korea to launch even more brazen attacks in the future.
The government has warned it will take "decisive steps" once the cause of the sinking is discovered. As it takes the first step in that direction on Thursday, it must announce concrete measures for North Korea to pay for its actions and ensure that it does not do something so foolish again. In order to do that, the country needs to cooperate closely with the U.S., China and other allies as well as the international community at large. Already, North Korea seems nervous.
If the country is to overcome the crisis, public unity is of the utmost importance. Only if the nation is united will we be able to bear the cost of sanctions against North Korea. The president and both ruling and opposition lawmakers must transcend the political divide and unite the nation. The prime weakness of a democracy is exposed when it faces a national crisis, especially during election season, when the interests of various political parties clash. Today is also the official start of political campaigning for the June 2 local elections.
President Lee Myung-bak needs to understand the situation and take the lead in ensuring that this security crisis does not become the subject of bickering and disagreements among different political groups. The opposition party will win more support from the public if it demonstrates its maturity as a party that ruled the country for 10 years. Lee should meet party leaders to forge a united front.
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