In Forbes, Doug Bandow asks—sit down for this, and grab some pills if you need them—why South Korea does defend itself. Read the thing in your entirety—here’s just a sample:
Alliance advocates occasionally defend the alliance in terms of China. Washington Times editorial page editor Brett M Decker claimed that “The rapid militarization of the People’s Republic of China makes the decades-old alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States just as important as ever.” But the ROK is unlikely to act as a cheerful member of a new containment ring around the PRC. Seoul might like to be defended in the unlikely event that Beijing moved to swallow the peninsula. However, no South Korean government is likely to make itself a permanent enemy of the PRC by backing Washington in a conflict elsewhere, say over Taiwan.
Indeed, the Roh Moo-hyun government insisted that American forces based in the ROK could not be used elsewhere in the region without its consent. The Lee government has a better relationship with Washington and adopted an ambiguous compromise which might allow American forces in the South to deploy, though not operate, from their bases. But maybe not. The U.S. can count on nothing in a crisis.
Beyond China it is hard to imagine how the alliance could act like the “lynchpin of not only security for the Republic of Korea and the United States but also for the Pacific as a whole.” More sensible would be to leave the Japanese and South Koreans to overcome old antagonisms and create a relationship that could act as a security foundation for what is, after all, their region.
(HT to reader)