Occidentalism
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US sends message to South Korea on alliance

April 6th, 2007 . by Matt

Is this a kind of oblique message to South Korea to clean up their act or lose the US as an ally? Emphasis in bold mine –

Perhaps no place does American frustration with South Korea show up so much as among the US military services. Many officers with experience in Korea assert that the US should reduce its troops in Korea or perhaps withdraw all but a token force. One who considers that US forces are almost held hostage in Korea said plaintively: “Let my people go.”

US officers point to running quarrels with the Koreans over issues such as command of US and Korean forces, sharing the cost of US forces in Korea, US access to Korean training areas, moving US forces to new locations, and cleaning up US bases that have been vacated. A particular sticking point: President Roh insists on vetoing US deployments out of Korea to conflicts elsewhere.

Those US forces are needed elsewhere, notably Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, most American officers believe that South Korea’s forces are capable of defending their country against North Korea with minimal help from the U.S. That is particularly true since the shambles of the North Korean economy has taken its toll on the readiness of North Korea’s armed forces.

A small but indicative incident reflecting the American attitude: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates came to the Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaiiin late March to attend the assumption of command by Admiral Timothy Keating. In his remarks at the ceremony, Gates said the Asia-Pacific region is home to “some of America’s oldest and strongest allies.”

He said a “great many partnerships–old and new–have grown considerably stronger in recent years. The restoration of military relations with Indonesia comes to mind, as does the strengthening of our long-standing ties with Japan and Australia.” Gates did not mention South Korea, a rare omission for an American political leader.

There are interesting times ahead for South Korea.


13 Responses to “US sends message to South Korea on alliance”

  1. comment number 1 by: egg

    I am so concerned about this matter. I don`t want to see an ally of China across the Japanese sea.
    Besides it will cost South Korea much if they don`t go along with America. I mean the rise of South Korea`s military cost will be inevitable.
    I hope the next president of South Korea will fix the relationship between America.

  2. comment number 2 by: GarlicBreath

    The US administration is starting to see what many of us Korea watchers have known for a long time. Korea is no friend of the USA. Kyopos like Robert Kim are worshiped like heros in Korea.

    Pulling the troops out of the Korean quagmire is a good start. A careful eye on Korean immigrants would be a good move too. There is an iceberg of Robert Kim’s festering in kyopo towns all over the USA.

  3. comment number 3 by: T_K

    egg,
    Alliances can be useful, even vital, but I think it’s foolish to rely on a foreign country for national defence. Although American soldiers are well-equipped, competent and numerous, they don’t have the ultimate incentive to die for Korea or Japan. Scaling down US presence in the region could result in a normal, healthy defence policy for Japan. As for Korea, the costs will be great, sure, but at least the result will be a reliable, coherent military.
    …or a future as a vassal state of China. But I’m an optimist.

  4. comment number 4 by: GarlicBreath

    Having US troops in japan seems to make sence. Japan and the USA have a great alliance. Japan is a good friend of the USA and her people seem to really like the USA.

  5. comment number 5 by: ponta

    If some country attacked Japan, it were Japanese who were going to counterattack it.
    But The US Japan alliance still make sense both for Japan and the US. And the US seems to be thinking just like that.

    The United States is evolutionally transforming U.S. forces, and more power will be
    built up in the Pacific. The
    Quadrennial Defense Review
    (QDR) issued in February 2006,
    states that the integration of U.S. bases out of the U.S. and a decrease in U.S. forces in Europe
    and South Korea are being planned. On the other hand, the strengthening and reforming of
    U.S. forces in the Asian Pacific including U.S. forces in Japan are being undertakenlink

  6. comment number 6 by: tocchin

    With almost one hundred thousands of troops pinned down in Iraq, the US had no altanative but to seek diplomatic solutions to the NK nuclear problems, which results in the current stalemate. This shows the vulnerability of Japan being dependant on the US military alliance. If Japan cannot stand up on its own against a mediocre threat by North Korea, China would risk any military provocation against Japan such as deploying a aircraft carrier in the waters close to Japan. Does the US defend Japan by risking tens of thousands of their lives if China threatens with the nukes ?

  7. comment number 7 by: ponta

    I am not so familiar with military strategy, but I think the strong alliance with the US is absolutely necessary, whether the US risks the lives of her young boys or not, whether Japan has a nuclear weapon or not.link

  8. comment number 8 by: Ken

    It is natural the USA dissolve the alliance with Korea because Korea has lost strategic value on following points.
    *As the ground base in the case of communist aggression, Korea is too close and risky for soldier’s family and Japan is enough on distance view point.
    *Korea itself is merging with North Korea to be communism friendly nation, the United Korea (UNKO) along Kim IlSung’s sggestion.
    *There is no difference if democratic world loose Korea because Korea has no competitive technology (cf; Most of high-tech products including weapons cannot be made without Japanese cutting edge technology).
    *Korean economy is about to bankrupt and Korea’s demerits are getting serious trouble, for example, export of crimes such as smuggling and prostitution, campaign of anti-USA and anti-Japan based on history distortion.
    etc.

  9. comment number 9 by: pacifist

    Although American soldiers are well-equipped, competent and numerous, they don’t have the ultimate incentive to die for Korea or Japan

    .
    But didn’t the UN (mainly USA) help South Korea in the 1950’s when they were invaded by North and retreated into a small area around Busan?
    Weren’t there 33,686 battle deaths in the U.S. military?

  10. comment number 10 by: T_K

    pacifist,
    I don’t have to remind you of the different geopolitical situation and Korea’s stratgic importance at that time. Besides, if you asked an average American GI back then, would he have said that he’s fighting for Korea or for American values?
    In the end, the best defenders for a country are its own citizens. It’s simply the healthiest basis for national security.

  11. comment number 11 by: egg

    T_K, thank you for your post at No.3.
    Are my following understandings about your opinion correct?
    1.You should try to defend your country by yourselves.
    2.South Koreans are trying to do that.
    3.Thus, reduce of American military presence is good.
    4.And, it is not only good for South Korea but also for the countries in the far east Asia.

    Well, I think I agree with you about No.1 in general(and trying hard to protect your country is absolutely needed.), but I think there is one condition. The condition is that you have the ability to do so only by yourselves. If you can`t you will have to seek another way to protect yourselves.
    My concern is that Japan and South Korea will not be able to compete militarily with China only by themselves (at least in the near future). I completely agree that “they don’t have the ultimate incentive to die for Korea or Japan”. (And who can blame that.) But still their presence will be an aid for us.
    If our military capability is not enough to compete militarily with China, that will effect at the every talks we hold with China. Our position will be weak. I think China is still living in the imperial era (just count how many wars they took part in after the WW2), so that is a situation which I totaly do not want to see.
    If the South Korean people wants to go, not along with America but China, I have no right to oppose that, but I wouldn`t choose that way myself. So, I am concerned about the two countries relationship.

    If my understandings were wrong, sorry for that but I would like to hear further from you. Thank you.

  12. comment number 12 by: egg

    tocchin,

    With almost one hundred thousands of troops pinned down in Iraq, the US had no altanative but to seek diplomatic solutions to the NK nuclear problems, which results in the current stalemate. This shows the vulnerability of Japan being dependant on the US military alliance.

    I agree that Japan does not have a capability to solve the probrems militarily. But at the same time we do not have the will to do so, as we threw away militarism (I am using the term as making desisions to solve an international probrens militarily.) after the WW2. If it were the American citizens who were abducted by North Korea, I think America would not hesitate to take military options. But we would not. So, even if we had the military capability, the present situation would not have changed.

    If Japan cannot stand up on its own against a mediocre threat by North Korea, China would risk any military provocation against Japan such as deploying a aircraft carrier in the waters close to Japan. Does the US defend Japan by risking tens of thousands of their lives if China threatens with the nukes ?

    I don`t know whether America would defend us, but as long as they value their hegemony in the sea lane, I think they will act. I don`t know how America will act when in the future America lose their interest about protecting the sea lane. But in the present circumstances I think they will act.

    But still I am fearing about the future, time may come when America lose her interest, so Japan should try to prevent that and at the same time I agree with you that Japan should increase her military capability to protect herself. But if the time comes it would be a desperate situation for Japan. As I said above, it would be difficult to compete militarily with China alone.
    Those are my views and I would like to hear your opinion again. Thank you.


  13. […] HT: Matt […]