US Military Should Quit Korea
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
The Cold War between the mixed-economy countries and the command-economy countries ended with the break-up of the Soviet Union, except for Cuba and North Korea. There is no logical reason to continue the Cold War with these two countries any longer. The U.S. should establish diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba, and withdraw its military from South Korea.
The U.S. is now engaged in World War IV against supremacist terrorists, so now is the time to concentrate on that front and close out the remnants of the World War III front. Russia and Central Europe are now U.S. allies, and the conflict with China over Taiwan is no longer so much one over different economic systems as a nationalist cause. The ideological world war of the 20th century is over; totalitarian socialism has been discredited; it is totally kaput.
The U.S. military in South Korea at the border with North Korea protected the South from another attack by the North. But now, South Korea is has a developed economy many times greater than that of the totalitarian North, and now North Korea is on its way to having atomic bombs. South Korea can now defend itself adequately against a non-nuclear attack, and U.S. troops would be a liability rather than a help in a nuclear attack.
Moreover, many South Koreans no longer want the U.S. military presence. They demonstrate against the U.S. Despite or even because of American protection, many in South Korea are hostile to the U.S. If they don't want the US there, why stay?
The older North Koreans, remembering the Korean War of the 1950s, think differently, and appreciate the U.S. protection. But the new government of South Korea wishes to try diplomacy and negotiation rather than confrontation. The U.S. military was to be a trigger mechanism, triggering war with the U.S. in case of attack. But this now seems obsolete. The conflict seems to be more U.S. versus North Korea than North versus South Korea.
Pulling out of South Korea would free resources to the current war on terror. The U.S. waged two hot wars during the five decades of World War III, the battle with totalitarian socialist states. The next hot wars, such as possibly with Iraq, will be battles of World War IV, not III. North Korea has no ideological agenda; the intellectual case for a totalitarian command economy has vanished. North Korea has nothing to gain by waging war against its neighbors.
The conflict with North Korea seems to be running on sheer inertia. Were the U.S. to withdraw and offer a peace treaty with a promise not to invade, the chief of North Korea would have no reason for hostility against the U.S. This too is running on inertia.
It's time for the U.S. to get real about its military policy in East Asia. Russia no longer threatens Japan, and other than Taiwan, the chiefs of China do not present a threat to the region. The U.S. should remove its troops from Japan as well. There may well be a benefit from having U.S. troops in Japan and South Korea, but it does not seem worth the cost.
US troops in South Korea may even be an obstacle to a peace treaty between the Koreas. With the U.S. out and a government in South Korea seeking an end to the conflict, the U.S. can let the two sides work it out. Why is Korea still a U.S. problem? The U.S. should declare that we have successfully finished the job of protecting South Korea; the success is that South Korea can now defend itself. Declare victory and return the troops home.
-- Fred Foldvary
Copyright 2003 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.
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