The Impact of NGOs on South Koreas Decision to Dispatch Troops to Iraq

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Hong, Kyudok

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Institute of International Affairs, Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University
Journal of International and Area Studies, Vol.12 No.2, pp. 31-46
Troop dispatchIraqsocietal pressureNGOsKorea’s DemocracyU.S.-ROK Alliance
This study focuses on how South Koreas internal societal pressures affected the decision making process on the agenda of troop dispatch to Iraq and how it affected the alliance relationship with the United States. Ever since South Korea has matured into a democratized, civil society, there are now numerous voices on almost every issue, including the US-ROK alliance, which had previously been immune from any heated public debate. Since the early days of the previous administration, however, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have emerged as a powerful player even in the realm of foreign and security policy decision-making which had remained hidden from the public eye. It is important to pay particular attention to the activities by the Citizens Action against Deployment to Iraq, a coalition group of 351 NGOs established for the specific goal of influencing the government. This coalition group employed at least 17 different strategies to mobilize public support for their cause.

This study ends with the conclusion that the Blue House which was wary of losing the progressives votes in the then-upcoming elections, missed a window of golden opportunity by refusing to cooperate with the U.S. forces in Iraq. It could have increased Roh Moo-hyun governments bargaining power, reformulated the missions of the Korean forces and enhanced its capabilities. It is unfortunate that the US-South Korean alliance has not experienced any notable improvement despite Seouls dispatch of an additional 3,000-men troop to Iraq. The US-ROK alliance relationship could further deteriorate because now NGO leaders aim to make the transfer of US bases to Osan-Pyongtaek area impossible. It is high time for policymakers of the two countries and others who are concerned to maintain a high watch over the NGOs strategies and their way of using governmental subsidies to prevent further damage to the alliance.
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Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원)Dept. of International Studies (국제학과)Journal of International and Area Studies (JIAS)Journal of International and Area Studies vol.12 (2005)
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