Donald Rumsfeld has apparently digitized many of the documents he has collected over his decades of service and is now putting together an online library.
Which is pretty cool, I should add.
Anyway, one of the memos he has uploaded is a 2002 memo on then-South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun’s calls for a review of the Korea—US relationship (.pdf) and the proper US response. You know, say what you will about Rummy, but as far as South Korea was concerned, he was dead on:
As you know, the new President-elect [Roh Moo-hyun] has stated that he wants to review the relationship. Rather than pushing back, I think we ought to accept that as a good idea. If we had recommended it, we could be accused of destabilizing the peninsula, but he recommended it.
I think it is an opportunity. We should agree with him, immediately put in place a process to do it and then drive the process so that we don’t do anything that destabilizes the peninsula. We would coordinate it carefully with our overall policy with respect to the peninsula, but we would get the job done.
We have been there since 1950. It is time to rearrange the relationship and put the burden on the South Koreans. We could use the country as a lily pad to reinforce in the event of a conflict initiated by North Korea, but also have our forces there stop being so Korea-centric and instead be regionally oriented. Specifically, I am thinking about having a sea capability and an air capability that could be deployed into the region as well as to assist South Korea in the event of a problem and to certainly continue to have a strong deterrent.
We do need to rearrange our footprint there. We are irritating the South Korean people. What we need to do is have a smaller footprint, fewer people, and have them arranged not so much in populated areas.