Thursday, April 13, 2017

"It’s Time for America to Cut South Korea Loose"-Foreign Policy


"The first step to solving the North Korean problem is removing U.S. troops from the middle of it."


"Why is the United States, which dominates the globe militarily, politically, and economically, fixated on this poor, isolated, and distant nation? Because America has gotten entangled where it does not belong."


"...the Cold War gave a zero-sum quality to international relations...But that world disappeared long ago."


"The Koreas are no longer a proxy battleground between superpowers."


"But the Soviets are long gone and the cause for American commitment with them."


"An inter-Korean war would be tragic and the body count enormous, but absent American involvement the fighting would largely be confined to the peninsula."

Yeah. Yuck.

"The continued presence of U.S. forces, by contrast, virtually guarantees the spread of conflict."

What do you mean? Obviously, it will have spread beyond the Korean peninsula if the U.S. got involved. That's tautological. Do you mean it would spread beyond that? China would get involved again? Whatever it is, you gotta say it, man. You can't leave things hanging with Korea. Everyrhing is too interconnected, it is too complex and too dangerous.

"South Korea’s defense no longer requires Washington’s presence."

No. Not true. If the DPRK invaded the South again it would, in the first days of the conflict, take Seoul again, and the lives of 30,000 American soldiers this time. We, the U.S., would have to retake Seoul again. Seoul could hardly be more vulnerable. It is the fourth most populous city on the planet (25,000,000 metro) and is 35 miles from the DMZ.

"The South’s economy began racing past its northern antagonist during the 1960s. Democracy arrived in the late 1980s. By the 1990s, when mass starvation stalked Pyongyang as Seoul’s economy boomed, the gap between the two Koreas was already huge and growing. The South’s military potential is correspondingly great though as yet unrealized — in part because dependence on the U.S. presence has affected strategic choices."

Okay, twit brain: "THOUGH AS YET UNREALIZED" is to your argument what the air pump is to the bird. "The cause for American commitment" NOW is to those 25,000,000 in Seoul. You can argue that that should not be the cause of American commitment now but you don't! Because you would be seen as abandoning millions to certain death. You cannot elide over 25,000,000. It would be lovely if only Cambria County, Pennsylvania lay within 35 miles of the North, but it don't!

"So why is America still there?"

Go ahead. Let's hear it.

"U.S. backing is “necessary to defend” the South."


"Yet, in contrast to 1950, there is no reason the South cannot protect itself — if properly motivated to do so by the departure of U.S. conventional forces."

That would motivate the South! Would it not also motivate the North to invade the South? You have to be talking about a gradual pull-out, right? The South starts to re-arm, we pull some guys out. Repeat, rinse. Like a see-saw? Okay, I can go with that in principle.

"With a bigger economy, larger population, and significant technological edge, as well as greater international support, Seoul could construct armed forces capable of deterring and defeating the North."

Yes, they "could" over time.
"Doing so would be expensive and take serious effort, but so what? The South Korean government’s most important duty is to protect its people."


"But even if South Korea couldn’t defend itself, the argument would still fall short."

No, man. If the South "couldn't" defend itself, EVER, then the U.S. "couldn't" let millions be killed by an invasion of nuclear-tipped racist dwarfs, EVER, ANYWHERE. Certainly not in a country that we lost 50,000 men defending and have had a military commitment to and TREATY with for over 60 years.

"American soldiers shouldn’t be treated as defenders of the earth, deployed here, there, and everywhere.

Don't hurt yourself falling on your ass on that "slippery slope" argument. Is there anything more intellectually flabby and infuriating than "slippery slope" arguments?...Yes...But slippery slope arguments are intellectually flabby and infuriating.

The United States should go to war only when its most important interests are at stake."

Shibboleths, for example.

"South Korea’s prosperity is not one of those vital interests, at least in security terms. A renewed conflict confined to the two Koreas would be horrific, but the consequences for the United States would be primarily humanitarian and economic, not security."

Oh well if it's only "humanitarian"...

The cost would be high but fall primarily on the region.

Oh well if it's only going to "fall primarily on the region," what's several million dead to us? More air

"In contrast, direct U.S. involvement in another Korean War would be much more expensive than the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts, which have cost America thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.

"Of course, the North’s possession of what we assume to be a growing and at some point deliverable nuclear arsenal skews the peninsula’s balance of power. However, this doesn’t create a need for a conventional American military presence on the peninsula. Washington could still guarantee massive retaliation against any North Korean use of nuclear weapons, providing a deterrent against the North’s threats."

Good point, but it doesn't answer what I assume is the obvious retort. What if the, even "a," major reason why the North has not invaded again in the last 60+ years is that there are 30,000+ American soldiers held hostage along the DMZ and THAT is the deterrent, not nuclear retaliation by the U.S.? A reasonable strategic view for the DPRK to hold would be: "They will not nuke us. MacArthur wanted to nuke us and what happened? Truman fired him and they didn't nuke us. HAHAHAHAHA! If we invade, sorry, 'liberate,' again and 30,000 Yankee imperialist soldiers are killed, eh. Maybe not, BUT MAYBE!" Not irrational.

He then goes on to say that maybe the U.S. should let South Korea develop its own nuclear deterrent, points out that President Park Chung-He wanted to do just that in the '70's and we told him, "NO," because same would violate the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. He acknowledges that proliferating nukes is a bad thing. In context, i.e. when the DPRK pulled out of the non-prolif treaty and demonstrably has nukes and when the South inarguably is in their cross-hairs, it seems to me to be penny-wise and and pound-foolish to say. "Only the bad guys can violate the non-prolif treaty." AT LEAST penny-wise and pound-foolish. I don't think American policy has been that fatuous. I bet, I do not KNOW, that U.S. policy toward the Korean peninsula has been based on the argument in the preceding paragraph.

He then shoots down some other "straw man," (see shibboleth, slippery slope) arguments for a continued American military presence in the South and ends with this bit of flab:

"The U.S. security presence in South Korea is an expensive and dangerous commitment that America can no longer afford. Nor has it ever brought the United States much popularity in the country, where U.S. soldiers are a constant irritant to nationalists. The South is no longer a poor nation in need of protection from the specter of global communism but one more than capable of standing on its own two feet."

"North & South" has bedeviled American policy-makers for sixty-plus years. It is not because
we are stupid, although, of course, as Americans, we are. There is no more tightly tied Gordian Knot anywhere on the planet. The choices range all the way from awful to horrific. Among the more likely outcomes in the next four years is a preemptive American nuclear first strike. Among the twists in this knot is the imperviousness of the DPRK's nuclear facilities to conventional "neutralization." (The 22,000 lb bomb Trump dropped on IS forces in Afghanistan was untended as follow-through on a
campaign promise to "bomb the shit out of ISIS" AND to test the ordnance for possible use against the DPRK AND to give Kim Jong-un something to think about.) Preemptive nuclear first-strike: we may forgive ourselves for not wanting to go there. But it sure beats the alternative of massive nuclear retaliation after Los Angeles has been wiped off the map. The U.S. is simply not going to permit the DPRK to come to intercontinental nuclear capability. We could never forgive ourselves for that.