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Mutual burdens? What mutual burdens?

Well, I guess we can assume who Secretary of State Rice was talking about here, and it ain’t Japan:

She said she intended to reaffirm “our reciprocal obligations” on her trip but also said “every country in the region must share the burdens as well as the benefits of our common security.”

Unfortunately, I feel compelled to tell Madame Secretary that Seoul doesn’t share the same interests in the region as the United States, and hence doesn’t share the burdens unless under extreme U.S. duress. To be more precise, its primary concern is promoting and maintaining intra-Korean ties, NOT preventing North Korea from developing or proliferating nuclear weapons. Which is fine, really—each nation has its own interests. For all I know, Seoul might be right here, as far as knowing what’s best for South Korea.

Rice needs to wake up, however, to the fact that American security commitments to South Korea are almost entirely one-way, especially as they pertain to North Korea. Seoul expects Washington to not only butt out of intra-Korean affairs, but also to pay off the North Koreans to keep the fiction of intra-Korean reconciliation and unification alive. But in the event that something goes terribly wrong, it wants a blank check of U.S. military support, up to and including concrete pledges to turn Pyongyang into a glowing sheet of glass.

And the United States gets in return… virtually nothing. Does it get South Korean understanding of U.S. security concerns in the region, including the North Korean nuke threat? Nope—Seoul only cares about the nuke issue only in so far as how it impacts the Sunshine Policy and, more distantly, how it might encourage Japanese rearmament. Does it get an ally in U.S. political initiatives in East Asia? Nope—as articulated in President Roh’s “balancer” speech, Seoul wants to play neutral in disputes between other regional states (all the while expecting U.S. support should it become a party to a dispute with another regional state). It sure as hell doesn’t support closer U.S.-Japan military ties, a linchpin of U.S. security policy in the region. Do we get a strategically useful advanced base with which to project power in the region? Well, kinda, if you count South Korean “understanding” of the U.S. desire for USFK “strategic flexibility.” But Seoul is likely to veto that flexibility in situations it considers detrimental to Korean security, i.e., Taiwan or just about any other regional dispute in which we might actually want to use USFK.

What the United States gets in return are 3,000 Korean troops doing nothing in the safest area of Iraq (and if they were getting shot at, they’d have been home ages ago) and a fairly good customer for U.S. weapon sales. Both of which are nice, of course, but are they worth the commitments of blood and treasure to an ally who, likewise, doesn’t feel what it gets from the United States worth the burden of compromising its interests in North Korea unless its having its arm twisted to the point of breaking?

Meanwhile, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Christopher Hill is upping the pressure on Seoul to reconsider its “intra-Korean economic cooperation” with Pyongyang. In particular, he expressed his inability to understand the logic behind the tours to the Kumgangsan Mountains, a project he felt designed with the sole purpose of pumping money to the North Korean authorities.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • dogbertt

    Who exactly advises Bush, Rice, et al. on Korea? Certainly no one having substantial experience living among Koreans or even able to read the opinion pagese of their newspapers. I wonder if what Bush and his cabinet members and advisers know about Korea is all filtered through Korean-American bureaucrats having an obvious interest in slanting things.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Not all Korean-Americans’ loyalties and perspectives are as twisted by their racial identification as pawikirogi and Bluejives seem to be (hell, they may just be trolling us just for fun — after all, it’s almost completely anonymous here).

    Robert is right: Korea is entitled to decide the best course for Korea, based on Korea’s interests only. But then so is America. And that means the stupid Yankee needs to take its forces home, and put this ungrateful, diffident “ally” off the dole. Korea ties up about 10% of US combat power (our defense budget is $450 billion a year, by the way), and balks not only at chipping in a few hundred million in cost-sharing, but also at the idea those forces belong to America and are not subject to Korean veto.

    Korea doesn’t “owe” America anything. But there is a corollary to that, and the corollary will prove unpalatable to a Korea long accustomed to freeloading.

  • michael

    “To be more precise, its primary concern is promoting and maintaining intra-Korean ties”

    Well Mr. Marmot, is it even that? Roh has said reunification should be put off “for decades,” so South Korea’s primary (only) concern is for itself–Kaesong is first of all about cheap labor for S.K. companies, Mt. Geumgang is just a tourist exercise in nostalgia that does nothing for N. Koreans, the aid is to keep N.K. at bay, etc.

    Roh doesn’t even mind N.K. developing nukes, he “understands” why they would do that.

    It’s true that every nation ought to work toward its own best interests, but the “win-lose” approach in S.K. seems to be leading to the isolation of both Koreas.

  • judge judy

    yes, it is truly amazing that the administration continues to plod along with blinders on.

    maybe rice’ll get a dose of reality this week when she is in town to discuss the UN resolution. although the PSI called for nations to voluntarily inspect dprk shipments that were “suspect” the US is pushing to have the UN resolution viewed as a mandatory obligation to inspect. the rok is wavering, with uri party totally opposed. it’s really another case of koreans saying they are on board with the program but unwilling to implement. it’ll be interesting to see how much rice can push and who will be agree with an obligatory interpretation of the resolution.

  • mins0306

    Korea is entitled to decide the best course for Korea, but if it means just pumping Korean taxpayer money to a regime which is not interested in finding a solution, then Roh and his Uri partymates better wake up and smell the coffee.

    Roh and Uri has to face the fact that if they want a lasting peace(or at least a day without headaches) on the peninsula and cannot do it alone, they have to think things through and work with the US, not brush them off and say we don’t need you and later come hat in hand begging the US to bail them out.

    Of course for Koreans, all relationships are one way(you do something for me, but if you ask something from me, forget it) so Roh and Uri will continue doing the same crap, the US will tire and dump the ROK, and the real losers will be the Korean people.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    It’s not true to categorically state “all” relationships are one way — but you damn well better figure out whether yours is one of them.

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    Blame the Chosŏn-dynasty aristocrats. In fact, just blame Daewŏn’gun, as wasn’t it he who bankrupted Korea rebuilding Kyŏngbokgung?

    Anyhow, if things hadn’t been falling apart through the elite’s indifference, the Donghak peasants wouldn’t have risen up in 1894, China wouldn’t have come to the aid of the Korean government, Japan wouldn’t have had a pretext to intervene, Kojong wouldn’t have sought Russian support, Japan wouldn’t have had a pretext to intervene again (and the 1905 Russian Revolution would not have happened, not to mention everything after that!), Korea would be a capitalist democracy because Communism would never have gained a foothold in Russia and eventually China, and Korea wouldn’t be divided today!

    Wow! Well, who knows what would have happened. Alternative histories are an exercise in self-indulgence, and depressing when you consider that instead of what could have been, instead you’re stuck with what is.

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  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    Sorry, Taewŏn’gun. Gotta keep my romanization consistent!

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    Judge Judy: BTW, China is also balking at inspecting ships at sea (not that that’s an excuse). So far, they’re only doing land-based inspections, and the only place I’ve read that they’re doing them so far is at Dandong, across the river from Sinŭiju.

    Then again, I suppose most of the trade between China and NK probably is overland and not via sea.

  • judge judy

    right, china is balking at doing them. but on the other hand they are doing more than they have in the past. they appeared to be a bit more pissed-off with this latest incident. still, the word is that they are just stopping trucks and looking in the back-not actually going through the cargo.

  • mins0306

    Brendon Carr wrote:

    It’s not true to categorically state “all” relationships are one way — but you damn well better figure out whether yours is one of them

    To state relationships are one way is wrong I agree, but unfortunately Koreans think that way. I work for a major Korean firm where my coworkers regularly dump their work on the others(even if it is their job), but when that person who got the dump ask some favor to the person who did the dumping, well the response is usually a polite “Buzz Off”. Same with my alumni, neighbors, etc etc.

    For me, relationships are a two way street, and I wish that the Koreans correct their ways, but unfortunately that’s a long shot.

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    Is it a sŏnbae-hubae thing with your co-workers, and they’re stiffing the “low [person] on the totem pole”?

  • mins0306

    Well sewing, there is a bit of the sŏnbae-hubae thing but also people on the same level stiffing each other and sometimes the lower rank person stiffing the higher level person.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Then I shall count my blessings: I had a dollar-denominated contract in 1998 which the law firm honored and did not even attempt to re-negotiate (Lee & Ko — a hellhole in so many ways, but not that one). Then I joined another firm, Shin & Kim, which told me that they couldn’t advise on salary before I had to accept their offer (weird, I know, but I wanted to get away from Lee & Ko) — due to their lockstep system it would not be different from others in my class and I would not be cheated; they always kept their word. And since then I’ve worked intimately with two separate groups of Korean lawyers in small firms and found that promises are always kept. The lawyers I’ve worked with have, with one insane exception, been scrupulously faithful to promises and our mutual support has been a two-way street.

    But in these cases, I have noted the relationship is different from the Korea-US relationship.

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    Minso, sounds like a fun place to work!

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    …Especially in light of Brendon’s experiences.

  • gbevers

    Maybe the best thing for everyone is for the US to simply sever military ties with South Korea. That will allow South Korea to conduct whatever North Korean projects it feels is in its best interest, and it will give the United States the option of conducting surgical strikes against North Korean nuclear facilities. As it is now, a US surgical strike on North Korea’s nuclear facilities could result in a retalitory strike on Seoul, but if the US and South Korea sever military ties, then North Korea would lose its hostage since it would have no excuse to attack South Korea. That situation would even benefit North Korea since it would remove the main obstacle for enhancing its economic and political ties with the South.

    That’s it. That’s the answer. I’m a genius. The US and South Korea need to sever military ties. The allliance is outdated, anyway. The likelihood of a North Korean invasion is very low, especially since North and South Korea have now become buddies and business partners. Maybe, with free rein, South Korea, together with China and Russia, will be able pull North Korea out of its shell.

  • mins0306

    sewing wrote:

    Minso, sounds like a fun place to work!

    sewing, the company I work for never ceases to amaze me.
    What’s more fun that the stiffing, are the antics of our CEO, the execs, and the managers.

  • watchingfromLA

    Marmot,
    I think you are getting to the heart of things here. You may also add that American military power is less than meets the eye, as is demonstrated daily in Iraq. With South Korea a net drain on resources, and the great divergence between South Korean interests (no war on the peninsula and no collapse of North Korea) and American interests (no nork wmds to jihadis), the alliance is defacto at an end, and is approaching net antagonism. It would not necessarily be a disaster.

  • Jinwol

    gbevers: “As it is now, a US surgical strike on North Korea’s nuclear facilities could result in a retalitory strike on Seoul, but if the US and South Korea sever military ties, then North Korea would lose its hostage since it would have no excuse to attack South Korea.”

    Well there’s a fallacy. Seoul’s a hostage not because South Korea is an ally of the US. It’s a hostage because it contains between 11 and 14 million human souls, and artillery bombardment of the city would mean the certain death of hundreds of thousands of people. It would also devastate the global economy.

    The end of the military alliance would not change any of this. Any president who ordered a first strike military attack on North Korea would be remembered by history as a monster with the blood of thousands of innocent people on his hands, even if the circumstances were entirely North Korea’s creation.

  • mins0306

    Two reasons why the US pullout from Korea will never happen;

    1) ROK government doesn’t have the guts to infrom the US directly that they should
    leave.

    2) ROK government knows if the US pulls out then they will be stuck with a very big
    security headache so in the Korean spirit of “Common Responsibility” and “We are
    in the Same Boat”, they are “holding on to the US’s ankles”.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    mins0306—I guess your two reasons beg the question, “Why does the United States need South Korean permission (or a South Korean order) to withdraw from peninsula?”

  • gbevers

    Jinwol,

    I am afraid that it is your logic that is falacious. Seoul is not a hostage because it has “between 11 and 14 million souls”; it is a hostage because South Korea is a military ally to the US, and North Korea would hold it responsible for a US attack on her nuclear facilities. If the US and South Korea ended that alliance, the North would be unable to justify attacking her brothers and sisters in the South if the US stuck her nuclear facilities, especially if South Korea was free to condemn the attack. Therefore, the apocalypse you described would not happen.

  • Wedge

    gbevers: There’s one fly in your ointment: The Norks wouldn’t counterattack Seoul, but they would lob missiles at U.S. bases in Japan. Although such an attack would do nothing militarily and probably kill very few if any people, who knows how the average Toshi and Tomoko would react? It would risk the U.S.-Japan alliance, which is the only alliance that matters in NE Asia. Still, we need to remove our troops from here posthaste.

  • montclaire

    I agree with gbevers. A US pull-out is the only way. The US knows this I think, and the Norks know the US knows it, hence the haste to present America with a nuclear fait accompli while our troops are still stuck here.

  • Jinwol

    “If the US and South Korea ended that alliance, the North would be unable to justify attacking her brothers and sisters in the South if the US stuck her nuclear facilities, especially if South Korea was free to condemn the attack.”

    What’s this about “justify”? North Korea doesn’t seem too obsessed with justifying what they do. Nor are the criminals in charge of the regime particularly concerned with the welfare of the brothers and sisters up North, either, so they certainly don’t care about the lives of South Koreans.

    Even if the US pulled out of South Korea, Seoul would still be a hostage, as would Tokyo. But Seoul would be the top target as a Western affluent metropolis in a very convenient location for their artillery tubes.

    I can’t claim to know what they’d do in this situation, and neither can you. How can you be so sure that the North WOULDN’T attack South Korea? If they saw the missiles come and the leaders felt they were about to die anyway, they might choose to go out in a blaze of glory, or make one last-ditch effort at reunification on their terms.

    I agree that the US should pull out, too, instead of giving away free coverage and risking American lives for an ungrateful “ally”. But there’s a major jump between “pull out of Korea” and the air strikes on the North that you seem to be advocating.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    gbevers, I would almost believe you if I wasn’t aware of this little fact: North Korea started the Korean War after the US had pulled out of South Korea.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Someguy,

    It’s true that in 1948 the United States pulled out of the Korean Peninsula and left the ROK on its own. And it’s true Dean Acheson failed to mention the Korean Peninsula as being included in an “American defense perimeter” (of the Aleutian Islands, occupied Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa), occupied Japan, and the US territory of the Philippines) in January 1950. And yes, North Korea invaded in June 1950. There is an element of post hoc, ergo propter hoc — “after it, therefore because of it” — to using a retrospective timeline to find reasons for things happening.

    Anyway, that was in 1948-1950. Is there anything — anything at all — you might find different about the geopolitical situation in East Asia and the Korean Peninsula between 1948 and 2006? Or does a US pullout in 2006 automatically lead to a repeat of the events of 1950-1953?

  • mins0306

    Robert Koehler wrote:

    mins0306—I guess your two reasons beg the question, “Why does the United States need South Korean permission (or a South Korean order) to withdraw from peninsula?”

    I remember reading somewhere that the CINC USFK stated that the USFK will stay as long as they are needed by the ROK. (Sorry I don’t remember the source)

    The alliance is still standing and my guess is the US doesn’t want to be seen as the bad guy who unilateraly broke the alliance without consulting its ally and thus leaving its ally hanging in the wind.

    Of course if the ROK unilateraly broke the alliance, and the USFK pulled out, the ROK will look stupid while the USFK will be seen as
    respecting the wishes of its host.

    But, I could be wrong.

  • ul

    Just wondering, so if the US military presence leaves (along with no real genuine public support for the US) would it be too far to assume that the US lost ROK somehow? Possibly to China ?

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    “We’ll stay as long as we are needed” is not the same as “We’ll stay until South Korea says we can go home.” All that needs happen to change that calculus is for the United States to declare Korea a graduate: Congratulations! You’re rich and powerful, so you don’t need our protection any more! Good luck and you’re welcome. We’re rooting for your success but it’s up to you now.

    Put another way: You’re 35 years old, damn it. Get off my sofa.

    I think one of the problems in communicating American displeasure to Koreans is this society’s tolerance — nay, cultivation — of what is from a Western perspective the infantilized adult. It’s not uncommon or stigmatized for a young adult to live with parents well into his or her 30s, and to stay on the dole. Koreans commonly finish their undergraduate education around age 25 (27 in the case of males subject to military service) and then take up residence on Dad’s sofa waiting for the perfect job, the search for which often takes 2-3 years. In America that kind of kid is unquestionably a bum.

  • changguang

    Of course, South Korea has been freeloading; the United States made the determination long ago that it was better to allow freeloaders than to deal with the messiness of regional balances of power. The official assessments were saying this ten years ago and I doubt that they have changed. All American allies, with perhaps the exception of the British and French, have been freeloading since the closing days of World War II. In the fifties we kneecapped those two countries and the British have only travelled in our wake since. The French limit their actions to a continent where we have few interests, Africa. So, before we get all self-righteous on the South Koreans about how they’re not holding up their end of the bargain, let’s also hold the Canadians, Japanese, Filipinos, Thais, Dutch, Germans and just about all of other allies to task, too.

    I would personally like to see the North Korean’s nuclear test be their Little Big Horn. South Korea is rich enough to devote more output to defense than North Korea has GDP. In fact, with little sacrifice, they could double it. I don’t see what use USFK really has five to ten years from now, if the ROK increases defense spending to a reasonable amount (~4.5% of GDP). American actions should be to force this to happen. It could be that an announced timetable for USFK drawdown/withdrawal will do the trick. I don’t think the United States can keep the bottle on a Northeast Asian balance of power developing. It would be best for the United States to “encourage” its quasi-client states to begin developing their own hard and soft power via structural changes in the alliances. The real interest for the United States lies in preventing any state from developing a regional hegemony and gaining the ability to project power at the American homeland. Thus far, it has worked by crowding out all other powers, but the growth of China makes this current strategy untenable in the long term. The only acceptable option is to encourage the strengthening of other regional states so that unilateral aggressive action is irrational.

  • mins0306

    Good point, Brendon Carr.

    I would like to see the expression on Roh’s face when Bush tells him that.

    Or Bush can give it a shot at next year’s April Fools.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I remember reading somewhere that the CINC USFK stated that the USFK will stay as long as they are needed by the ROK.

    Unfortunately, this is the kind of statement that fuels unfortunate expectations that we’ll be here as long as Seoul asks. I understand why USFK officials make such statements, i.e., to calm gittery South Korean officials, but in the end, they aren’t helpful. On a positive note, as Mr. Carr points out above, “staying as long as they are needed” can mean very different things depending on the calculations used.

    Of course if the ROK unilateraly broke the alliance, and the USFK pulled out, the ROK will look stupid while the USFK will be seen as respecting the wishes of its host.

    Somehow, I doubt very much that’s how it will be read. No, instead, it will be viewed as a victory of anti-Americanism, how the imperialist Americans were “kicked out” of Korea, and how Americans should meditate upon why we were kicked out, why everyone hates us and declining American prestige around the world.

    Or something along those lines.

    Another reason, albeit a remote one, to pull out on our terms.

  • mins0306

    Actually when I said “ROK will look stupid” I was refering to how the ROK will look to the international community.

    Of course locally, what you say will apply, especially among the younger generation.

    Then if the ROK government increases the compulsory military service period because of the US pullout, then those young ones will certainly be eating their words and begging for the US to come back or fleeing the country in droves.

    Go figure.

  • hardyandtiny

    LG can’t pay grandma five bucks an hour to haul bricks forever.

  • mins0306

    Now South Korea is rich, but it is a long way off from defending itself.

    The Army of the country that proclaims itself to be an “IT leader” still uses field telephones and radios that are US WW2 surplus.
    The country that prides itself in the T-50 still uses Vietnam era helicopters and aircraft. It has little or no ISR and C4I capability(the US provides those) and despite the ballistic missile threat it can’t make up its mind on the purchase of second hand Patriots put up for sale by the German government. On the other hand Japan and Taiwan are actively fielding an ABM capability.

    Face it, this country’s defense structure is screwed up thanks to civil servants and military officers that have little or no idea on what needs to be done, and like it or not South Korea needs the US to hold things together and/or fill gaps in its defence capability.

    Now I believe a time will come when South Korea will graduate but at this pace, it’s a long shot.

    Of course if the US gives a shot in the arm, then it might speed things up.

  • mins0306

    I wish that the Koreans, like me, are more grateful and appreciative of the efforts put up by the US to defend the ROK.

    Instead of making it the object of their left-wing fantasies.

  • michael

    Koreans don’t need to to express gratitude so much as their leadership needs to understand the regional calculus of power and how to really balance S.K.’s interests with the U.S. and others instead of the pretend “balancer” role it goes on about.

    Roh spouts undigested faux-leftist idiocy like that “King and the Clown” director, without a clue in the world of what to replace the big bad imperialist migook with. What’s Roh’s plan once he pushes the U.S. out of S.K.? Cozy up to China, which could easily absorb the northern half of the peninsula over S.K.’s protests?

    You’re absolutely right about S.K. needing to upgrade its military, unfortunately the government is dragging its collective feet about that.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Bendon, I was simply reminding people that North Korea is the aggressor, not the US. As far as I know, no one else has ever claimed they would bathe Seoul in a sea of fire. South Korea will remain hostage to the whims of Kim Jong Il and his nepotistic government as long as the North refuses to play by the rules. Since all the decisions that the Norther government have taken are calculated to maintain Kim Jong Il’s control over the country, I doubt the withdrawal of the USFK will remove the sword dangling over our heads.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    I’m really going to miss AFN and the Taco Bell/Townhouse when they’re gone next year.

  • gbevers

    Today, thanks to Robert’s post, I have had an epiphany. I realized that really the only thing I dislike about South Korea is all the freaking hypocrisy. I also realized that much of that hypocrisy is caused by a military alliance that has gone from being a blessing to a burden, for both South Korea and the United States. If the US-Korean military alliance ended, South Korea’s actions over the past few years would make much more sense to me and many of the disaggreements between South Korean and the US would disappear, including defense burden sharing issues, US military base relocations, and finding sites for US military training.

    North and South Korea are not only on speaking terms, but they are also conducting economic and cultural exchanges, and South Koreans seem more than willing to overlook the many idiosyncrasies of the Kim Jong-il regime, so why is the US military still here?

    The US military is not here to protect South Korea from a North Korean invasion. If everyone were honest, they would admit that that threat has come and gone. Even without US military support, the South Korean military is more than strong enough to make an invasion too costly for North Korea, and with the amicable ties between South Korea, China, and Russia, such an invasion would have no outside support. Things are much different now than they were in 1950.

    The alliance is costing both the US and South Korea too much. The US is not free to deal with North Korea as it would like, and neither is South Korea. If the US military left South Korea, Seoul would no longer be a hostage, from the US viewpoint, to North Korean artillery, which means the US would have more freedom to attack North Korean nuclear facilitiies. I think that would make North Korea a much more willing negotiating partner, and I think it would make her much more willing to improve her ties with South Korea.

    With the US military out of South Korea, the North-South relationship would quickly improve, at the expense of the China-North Korea relationship. As things are now, if North Korea falls, China would most likely more in, but if South and North Korea develop their ties and gradually integrate their systems, together they could probably block any Chinese designs on North Korea. That would be good for the Koreans, good for the Japanese, good for the Russians, and good for the Americans.

    With her military out of South Korea, the US military option for dealing with North Korea’s nukes would be much more feasible, and North Korea would know it. That would be a good time for the US to renew her offer of establishing diplomatic and trade relations with North Korea for the verifiable elimination of North Korea’s nukes. If North Korea still refused, the US could then conduct surgical strikes. If North Korea tried to retaliate by lobbing a couple of missles toward Japan, then we hit her hard.

    By the way, I think the Dokdo/Takeshima issue needs to be part of any deal since that would be a good time to remove that potential flashpoint between Japan and Korea. Maybe Japan would be willing to give up the islets in exchange for a nuclear-free peninsula, friendly ties, and North Korea’s full cooperation in finding the truth behind the kidnapping of Japanese citizens?

  • SomeguyinKorea

    That’s the thing. If North Korea was to attack the South today, it would most certainly lose. It depends too much on South Korean and Japanese aid, for starters. On top of that logistical problem, there’s the fact that the South Korea army is quickly becoming one of the most modern in the world, while North Korea still uses 1940′s tanks and 1950′s airplanes. I don’t think the presence of the USFK is necessary, but it could be used for leverage in negotiations. North Korea used to say they’d conduct nuclear tests if the USFK didn’t leave, something about equalizing things. If the USFK left, it might tip negotiations to the North’s advantage.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Rice needs to wake up, however, to the fact that American security commitments to South Korea are almost entirely one-way, especially as they pertain to North Korea.

    Does anyone genuinely believe that any of the senior members of the Bush Administration aren’t keenly aware of this?

    Of course it would be very emotionally satisfying to do a cover of “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” (go listen to the lyrics, BTW) in front of The Great Pretender and the Roh-Nothings — better yet it would be nice to resurrect Stevie Nicks, and it would be even better to enlist Joss Stone, do do it — and then just drop kick the ROK and let it land where it will.

    But doesn’t it seem as if what Bush’s critics like to characterize as the failure of his “North Korea” policy is part and parcel of a Korea policy that, among other things, entails maneuvering the ROK into a position where there is something approaching true mutuality (and not the ROK version of juche autarkism espoused by The Great Pretender et al and, to a not so very different degree, by the old conservatives of the GNP)?

    Granted, this isn’t likely to happen on the watch of TGP; but the real object of Bush’s tuition is the GNP, who are being invited to attend a teachers’ training course – or, in the case of the Old Guard, a re-training course — as it were, so they can go out and spread the news.

    I’ve always found Richardson’s “strategic disengagement” theory of NORK behavior interesting, despite it’s flaws. It’s gotten me thinking that we might be seeing something similiar from the US vis-a-vis both North and, in a more tentative sense, the ROK. I don’t think the object in the end is to disengage from the South, but it’s evident that the current policymakers believe they have a LOT of leeway to play chicken with the ROK (while being careful to deploy a lot of diplospeak to cover their tracks) without really seriosuly risking the ROK’s bolting from the barn.

  • http://www.radicalcontrapositions.com/left_flank/blogs/index.php Left Flank

    Can anyone name a country in the world not freeloading on the US? And, is there anything wrong with it?

    What happens when Seoul calls in its T-bills?

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    The US closes the door to Korean imports and US technology transfers. I wonder who would win that trade war?

  • iwshim

    changguang:

    Canada what?

    “let’s also hold the Canadians, Japanese, Filipinos, Thais, Dutch, Germans and just about all of other allies to task, too.”

    Say something REAL, i dare ya ta.

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  • pawikirogi

    ‘the country’s defense is screwed up thanks to civil servants and miltary officers who have no idea what needs to be done.’ expat who thinks he knows it all

    there’s a free article from strafor.org called:

    south korea: rethinking it’s miltary future

    the koreans know exactly what must be done not only to defend the peninsula but also to project power.

    isn’t it funny? all of you seem to have all the answers but yet, those in power don’t seem to follow your ‘expert advice’. why? perhaps, they can see that most of your expertise is in the subjective realm driven by pure emotion.

    ‘koreans are adult infants.’ brenden

    the phenomena you describe is starting to happen here. seen more than a few articles talking about the rise of adult children living with their parents due to economic concerns. most experts think the trend will continue to grow. of course, you’d already know that if you lived here.

  • Origami

    Now,

    I don’t quite understand the mindset of some of you, more sensative, weak- kneed members on this board:

    “Oh those ‘ungrateful Koreans,’ They’re so mean to us, let leave them to a madman and see what happens….Nananana, not that funny is it when a madman is holding a happy trigger finger on a nuke? I told you so, I told you so.”

    Give me a fucking break there with your five year old fucktard mentality.

    How do you expect to maintain an empire with that kind of a five year old temper tentrum mindset? Fact of the matter is, no great empire ever ever gave up their empire willingly until it was taken away from them. Even the Romans did not go away quitely without a fight.

    And to give it to whom or what? To the Chinese? Again, give me a fucking break.

    Fact of the matter is, East Asia has become a very vital region for/as an American interest. It is the most important enconomic center outside of United States. Yes, even more important that the declining Western Europe; and, as such, we cannot afford to screw up there with all these stupid, gay, faggot, willy-nilly mental some of you people are exhibiting at this moment like a first year marine trainee who doesn’t even know what the fuck which way is up because you those fucking nukes are coming out of your ying/yang right now.

    Time to sit up straight and pay attention because noone was even remoting thinking about the possiblity of WWIII these very few weeks ago, we’re we? Just goes to show just how quickly things can change in that region when a desperate madman has his finger on the nuclear trigger.

    Also, with China as a growing menace we need to stay they there
    whether they like it or not. When push comes to shove, we need to go beyond this touchy-filly PC crap that’s destroying our culture even as we speak. We need to tell these people why we need to be there whether they like it or not. Fact of the matter is, in the end they don’t have a choice, we do. Tough love is the only thing these stupid assholes understood anyway.

    They’re going to resent us no matter what we do so we might as well do the right thing and stay there. Liberal fucks never understand these kind of crap. Just look at a typical French faggot how they society wound up mattering as much as a useless poodle. This is how they think. So, we need to put aside our little hurt feelings and just do the right thing here. As long as we’re still the God Dame Lone Superpower in the World that people say we are and just play that role. Who gives a fuck what anybody thinks anymore.

    Only thing that matters is protecting our interest which is their interest whether they like it or not, and stop with all these false pretense and start talking like a real men here.

    We are men here, are we not?? Hello??

    Anyway, what I’m trying to say is:

    We need to start fighting fire with fire and become just as billigerent as these Commie assholes. Because, let’s face it, when all is said and done the only thing these third world thugs understand is a giant bomb stuck all the way up there ass.

    No more Mr. Nice guy.

    P.S.

    And Bluejives, how’s that Sunshine Policy workin’ for you these days. Can’t hardly hear you :)

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    C’mon, let us know how you really feel!

  • Origami

    Dame, ‘still need that fucking edit function. That ever coming ?

    Few spelling errors but you get the jist of what I’m saying. I hope. :)

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    “Dame”? Who you callin’ a dame? ;)

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    ‘koreans are adult infants.’ brenden

    the phenomena you describe is starting to happen here. seen more than a few articles talking about the rise of adult children living with their parents due to economic concerns. most experts think the trend will continue to grow. of course, you’d already know that if you lived here.

    We all know how you like to twist things, pawi — but let’s get it straight. I did not state that Koreans are adult infants. I noted that from a Western perspective, the Korean social structure cultivates an “infantilized adult” whose acceptance of what Americans consider to be the burdens of adulthood is delayed.

    I’m perfectly aware that Americans in their 20s are in greater numbers returning home to flop out on Dad’s couch. You might not have noticed, but the reason the phenomenon is reported as “news” in the States is that it’s weird. If it wasn’t it wouldn’t be news. Those kids are bums.

  • http://www.radicalcontrapositions.com/left_flank/blogs/index.php Left Flank

    Bipolarity is out, multipolarity is in. The US and ROK don’t need to swear blood oaths, just find common interests (a common interest?). Fixating on a situation where both need to be there emotionally on call is not an alliance, it’s a marriage. Besides, leaping the opposite way everytime ROK progressives tack is Pavlovian. ROK public opinion is much more pragmatic, definitely more conservative. Instead of playing with the Blue House, the White House should speak to South Koreans. interests, jobs and schools, directly. God knows, the Uri party doesn’t!

    Sperwer: why disrupt linkages between MNCs and destroy the great Pacific conveyor belt for a more autarkic system. Because special interests in both countries are too fat and inflexible? No one here is getting paid for lobbying by Big Sugar or the labor unions, so why make their arguments for free? Oh yes, lets’ go back to the “golden calf” protectionist era of GOP glory, the age of Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover!

  • mins0306

    pawikirogi wrote:

    ‘the country’s defense is screwed up thanks to civil servants and miltary officers who have no idea what needs to be done.’ expat who thinks he knows it all

    there’s a free article from strafor.org called:

    south korea: rethinking it’s miltary future

    the koreans know exactly what must be done not only to defend the peninsula but also to project power.

    isn’t it funny? all of you seem to have all the answers but yet, those in power don’t seem to follow your ‘expert advice’. why? perhaps, they can see that most of your expertise is in the subjective realm driven by pure emotion

    Let’s get a few things straight. First I’m a Korean not a know all expat.

    Second, have you ever had a chance to look at the Korean military from the ground and not from a piece of paper?

    I don’t doubt the motivation of the military to defend the ROK, but still the defense planners are dragging their feet and not buying the needed equipment(aka Patriot missiles to replace the old Nike Hercules, new attack helicopters to replace the Cobras, etc) or if they are buying it, buying it in a manner that defies logic(aka the Korea Helicopter Project).

    On top of that while the militaries of other countries are transforming to meet new threat, the ROK military seems to be stuck in the 1970s and 80s in terms of doctrine, training, etc.
    Heck, we don’t have the C4I assets to effectively command our forces when we receive wartime command from the US.

    Do you know why those in power are not following advice? They are more interested in their retirement pensions and which contractor will bring the cash filled white envelope than the defense of the ROK.

  • jiwonsi

    If most koreans are infant adults, what does that make pawikirogi?

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