Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Philippines and South Korea

Good news from the Philippines:
The Philippines said Wednesday it is withdrawing its small peacekeeping contingent [of 51] from Iraq early to meet the demand of kidnappers threatening to kill a captive Filipino truck driver. (The Associated Press, "Philippines Withdrawing Iraq Troops," July 14, 2004)
A blow to Washington, and a victory to Filipino activists who demanded the troop withdrawal to save Angelo dela Cruz:

AP photo - Supporters of Angelo dela Cruz, the Filipino worker held hostage in Iraq, face the police water cannon as they are dispersed Tuesday in Manila.
In contrast, in South Korea:
Roh Moo Hyun, whose reputation as a left-leaning populist was a source of concern in Washington when he was elected last year, but who is now adamant about sending 3,000 more troops to Iraq to join the 660 already there. The first deployment was comprised of military engineers and doctors, but this time we will send combat forces, tanks and heavy artillery. If the government has its way, South Korea will have the third largest number of foreign troops in Iraq, behind the United States and Britain. (Ha-yung Jong, "Caught in America's War: South Korea and Iraq," New York Times, July 2, 2004)
A reprise of the South Korean role in the Vietnam War?
[O]ur role in Iraq parallels our role in another American-led conflict, the Vietnam War.

From 1963 to 1975, President Park Chung Hee sent 312,853 Korean troops to Vietnam, in return for economic aid from the United States and of course, to solidify the alliance between the two countries. More than 4,600 South Koreans lost their lives, and thousands more were wounded. In that war, our men earned precious dollars by selling C-rations and Lucky Strikes on the black market; less gloriously, they fathered and deserted thousands of half-Vietnamese children and committed their own massacres. (Ha-yung Jong, July 2, 2004)

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