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Dear Korean presidential candidates

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By Stephen Costello

Dear Korean presidential candidates,

I write to you as an outsider who supports Korea, the US-Korea alliance, and our common effort to make progress on the big issues that confront us. The many experiences and values we share are not a little thing; they are the main thing. I am amazed at the clarity, determination and civic openness of your recent demonstrations. Our own demonstrations last week have been important for us, as well. Among other things, both have been attempts to reaffirm deeply held values, and to stand against backsliding in social progress.

Let's say a few things at the beginning. One president does not change bedrock values or real national interests. A look at the recent history of Korea and the US confirms this. We in the US have survived incompetent and corrupt presidents, and so have you. If our current president will not be able to help you much, that's unfortunate, but it's also not new. As for the similarities between Presidents ParkGeun-hye and Donald J. Trump (arguing about crowd size, for instance), we can put that aside for now.

Militarily, both of our governments have been focused on overblown threats from North Korea while refusing to return to credible and sincere talks. If you want to change this dynamic, you had better know a great deal about the issues, and consult with a wide range of experts.Regarding broader military issues, there are important decisions to make regarding force structure, equipment, regional and alliance roles, and of course, OpCon. You can't learn these things later.

Across the range of key........

© The Korea Times