South Korea Update Strategy



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The U.S. Military Should Leave South Korea



The sinking of Cheonan should be a wakeup call. We should take our troops out South Korea.
Bandow, 2010

The U.S.-South Korea Alliance Outdated, Unnecessary, and Dangerous”: Doug Bandow, senior fellow Cato Institute- Foreign Policy Briefing no. 90 http://www.cato.org/pubs/fpbriefs/fpb90.pdf


7/14/2010: The ROK remains dependent on the United States today, despite vastly changed circumstances. Aggressive, hegemonic communism is gone. South Korea is the most obvious beneficiary of the security relationship. However, when the South places its defense in Washington’s hands it also places decisions over its defense in Washington’s hands.
Washington’s top priority is avoiding another conflict, one that likely would be costly, brutal, and bloody—and of no conceivable benefit to Americans. However, the end of the Cold War has sharply diminished South Korea’s security importance—relevance, even—to the United States. North Korea is an irrelevant strategic backwater
Pyongyang obviously poses no conventional military danger to the United States, other than to the 28,500 American troops currently and unnecessarily stationed in the peninsula. One U.S. carrier group has more firepower than the entire DPRK military. The deployment provides Kim Jong-il with thousands of convenient American nuclear hostages.
Washington nevertheless is stuck in the center of Korean affairs today because of the U.S.-ROK alliance, which provides a security guarantee to South Korea with no corresponding benefit to the United States.

Seoul’s need for a U.S. security guarantee long ago disappeared. South Korea has upwards of 40 times the GDP of the North. The ROK also has a vast technological edge, twice the population, and a clearly superior international position. The South is capable of spending as much as is necessary to overmatch Pyongyang. The ROK doesn’t do so because it doesn’t have to, since it can rely upon American defense subsidies the responsibility for defending Seoul lies with the ROK, not the United States.


Americans are borrowing money to pay to defend the South so South Koreans can spend their money on other priorities. Finally, reinforcing America’s military posture on the peninsula represents a move in the wrong direction.
However, South Korea already possesses larger, better equipped, and more modern vessels than

does the North. The sinking of the Cheonan should serve as a wake-up call to Seoul to focus its military build-up on its own defense rather than regional or global missions. The U.S.-ROK military alliance has lost its purpose. South Korea is not critical to America’s defense and America’s assistance is not—or at least should not be—critical to South Korea’s defense.


Washington should make policy to promote America’s, not the ROK’s, continued economic development. After 65 years of dependence on the United States, the South Korean people should take over responsibility for their own defense.


The U.S. Military Should Leave South Korea



North Korea does not pose a threat to the United States. We can no longer afford to defend South Korea.
Bandow, 11/1

U.S. Should Get Out of Korean Peninsula”: Doug Bandow, senior fellow Cato Institute- http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=12521


11/1/2010: the U.S. should leave the problem of dealing with Pyongyang to the North's neighbors. The so-called Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the world's first Communist monarchy, poses no threat to America. The DPRK's economy is a wreck. The North's military equips under-trained, malnourished soldiers with ancient equipment. One American aircraft carrier has more firepower than the entire North Korean military. What of Pyongyang's putative nuclear arsenal? The North probably hasn't miniaturized any weapons that it might have constructed. North Korea also doesn't have a missile capable of hitting America, let alone doing so accurately. Moreover, "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il is evil, not stupid. He knows that the U.S. could wipe his nation off the map. He wants his virgins in this life, not the next, and wouldn't waste his time trying to pass power to his son if he planned self-immolation. Deterrence worked against Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and Kim's father, Kim Il-sung. It will continue to work against Kim Jong-il. The North poses a greater threat to South Korea, but even here the purported danger is exaggerated. The Republic of Korea is far ahead on most measures of national power. The South's forces are better trained and its equipment is more capable; Seoul has a much larger army reserve and military industrial base. The ROK has twice the population and upwards of 40 times the gross domestic product the North. Moreover, neither China nor Russia, the North's traditional allies, would support the DPRK in another war. Indeed, the South felt so secure that it spent much of the last decade investing in and aiding Pyongyang. The supposedly conservative government in Seoul refused to close the South Korean-run Kaesong industrial park in the North even after the DPRK sank a South Korean warship earlier this year. The ROK also recently restarted aid to North Korea.

If the Seoul government isn't worried about its national security, then Americans shouldn't give it much thought. The only reason Washington is so deeply involved in the peninsula's politics is because of its longstanding security guarantee to the South. America's 27,000 troops should come home.Thus, the next government, irrespective of Kim Jong-un's status, will probably be weak and divided. No one is likely to push the armed services to give up nuclear weapons.It is a nasty situation. But why are Americans expected to sort out the mess? Rather than treating North Korea as a U.S. problem, Washington should turn the issue back to Pyongyang's neighbors. Any map demonstrates that the DPRK is primarily an issue for South Korea, Japan and China, not America. Only the South is vulnerable to a traditional conventional assault, and it is well able to protect itself. Japan is conceivably at risk from a North Korean missile attack, but the government of that wealthy, high-tech society could do far more in its own defense. The North isn't likely to attack the People's Republic of China, but any instability emanating from Pyongyang will affect the PRC. American disengagement would force the Chinese government to confront the North Korean "problem."

America can no longer afford to garrison the world. The Korean peninsula is a good place for the U.S. to again start acting like a republic.

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