Issues, News and Views
TIME TO LEAVE KOREA
2018/04/27 - Seeing is believing right? Or is it? Have you been watching the thawing relations between South Korea and North Korea? A warming that today has reached a culmination – so far – with a summit meeting at the DMZ between the South's President Moon Jai-in and the North's President Kim Jong-un?
And does this mean we can pack up and leave? The United States has 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea, not to mention an array of weapons, equipment, supplies and a host of support and logistical assets to sustain our presence. Interminably. If our objective all along was to be friends with the Kim regime and not to wipe it out, then can we just please leave already?
The United States has maintained a military presence on the Korean peninsula since the demise of the Japanese Occupation at the end of World War II in 1945. The peninsula was partitioned along the 38th parallel between the Soviet Union and the United States for post-war administration. The North, with aid from Russia and China, invaded the South in 1950, with several ebbs and flows a truce – not a treaty – was struck in 1953 to cease hostilities and the United States has been pinned down there ever since – for 65 years.
Why? How did we end up there in the first place; and, why are we still there?
During the 1700's the ideas began to take root in North America that would eventually develop into the founding of a nation that became what is now called the United States of America. Over the course of the 1800's the nation developed into a country - realizing its principles even to the point of fighting a Civil War; eliminating the presence of Old World powers in the New World; acquiring territories and establishing borders; and populating, administering and defending its newly acquired expanses. And they coined a term for this national cause - Manifest Destiny,
By the 1900's, with the country well-established, our gaze began to turn outward. The notion arose to spread this new nation's ideals to other beleaguered peoples of the world. This idea was summed up by the phrase "making the world safe for democracy" as President Woodrow Wilson put it in 1917.
Making the world safe for democracy has guided American foreign policy for the past hundred years – to enter Word War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Mideast, to liberate the Warsaw Pact and Eastern Bloc nations, Kuwait, Yugoslavia, Iran, Libya, Syria, and so on. All Presidents, from both parties, with varying degrees of success.
But does that policy still make sense? Especially in Korea? The fact is the United States owes South Korea precisely nothing. The US fought and won a war that liberated Korea from a brutal Japanese occupation, and fought a war to prevent Chinese and Russian backed Communists from re-enslaving them. The United States has protected the South for nearly seventy years and even allowed the South Korea to abuse us in international trade in order to help them develop freedom and prosperity in their country.
South Korea and North Korea are roughly equal in size, with the North slightly larger, about the size of Pennsylvania and the south about the size of Mississippi. Both roughly equal in size to average US states. But the South has a population of 50,000,000, roughly double that of the North; and in terms of economics, there really is no comparison – according to the United Nations, South Korea has the world's 11th largest economy, while North Korea ranks 113th.
South Korea is fully capable of defending itself, so it begs the question, why are we there? If Moon and the South Korean people want to bury the hatchet with the north, and turn their backs to the misery of their own brothers and sisters in the north, why shouldn't we? If they don't care, why should we? What are we doing there?
There are probably three policy options for US forces currently positioned in South Korea: 1. The reunification of Korea through near-term forcible elimination of the dreadful Kim regime; 2. Status quo, to keep the peace indefinitely, interminably; or 3. To pack up and leave.
Reunification best fits the United States foreign policy modus operandi of the past hundred years and this is Chalprem's preferred option. Let's suck it up, and get the job done. Then leave. But if the South has no will to fight, no vision for their country, no guts, and, worst, no empathy for the suffering of their own kin, their own flesh and blood, then why should we? Why are we there?
It's time to go, that's Chalprem's position. If the South want to reunify, and is willing to fight an all-out war to make it happen, great, we should throw everything we've got at the North and help the South win, and win quickly and completely. And then leave. But leave we must. Either with or without reunification, that's the South's choice. Times up in South Korea.
But what about that 700 pound gorilla in the room, China - might not they have a thing or two to say or do about our presence and activities in Korea?
There are a lot of things China wants, and a lot of things we want. The time has come to redraw the lines in Asia. It's probably time to set aside the idea of "Making the World Safe for Democracy", to recognize China's place in Asia, and redraw the geopolitical influence map. It's time to give China what it wantws, and obtain concessions for it.
China, of course, would not be happy with us conducting an all-out war on the peninsula, nor would they be pleased with a reunified Korea, but they would be delighted if we pulled out of Korea altogether – could we trade the two? Would China agree to non-intervention in a reunification war if the United States promised a full and complete withdrawal after the cessation of hostilities?
Since China does not appreciate American presence in Asia, what would China offer in exchange, if we offered to pull out of Okinawa? Okinawa is Japanese territory where the United States has significant forces stationed. Of course that would certainly trigger the remilitarization of Japan, absolute kryptonite for China – shouldn't they be paying us to stay?
We are not playing our cards well with Japan, we think we are protecting Japan from China, but to the Chinese, we are protecting China from Japan – and we are footing the bill to do it. China should be offering concessions for us to stay.
And then there's Taiwan. What does the United States owe Taiwan? The answer, like Korea, is nothing. They have been decent enough allies, but, at the same time, they at least pay lip-service to the One China policy. Maybe it's time to support the reunification of ROC island into the PRC mainland, into some sort of Hong Kong style entity.
And of course, the United States wants trade liberalization - reciprocity - with China. Free trade that is actually "free", fair trade that actually is "fair".
And China wants their fake islands in the South China Sea, we want guaranteed free and safe passage of all recognized international shipping. And there's the Spratly's… and… so on.
We really have no choice but to start displaying some trust for China. It really doesn't suit their best interests in the 21st Century to be a territorially expansionist bully. They would lose a lot more than they would gain from that. There are a lot of objectives both big-bore and small-bore that create opportunities for China and America to enter into a more trusting relationship that reflects 21st Century realities.
And one of the driving forces is that the United States simply cannot afford to be the world's policeman. Even if there was consensus that it was a great idea, and that we truly wanted to do it, the fact is we simply cannot afford it.
The recently enacted spending bill may have been one of the worst pieces of legislation ever passed, perhaps taking the silver medal after Obamacare.
Between military spending, interest on our debt, entitlement spending, and discretionary spending, the United States has lost all control of its budget. The last $1.3 trillion spending package proved that. The American people have no will, and no math skills, to face the coming entitlement crisis. And to gain increases in military spending to support our out-of-control self-imposed global military mission, Republicans stupidly gave away the farm to Democrats on discretionary free stuff for everyone.
With Republican zeal for military spending, Democrat addiction to free-crap giveaways, and the American peoples' brain-freeze opposition to entitlement reform, our debt will continue to spiral and all three spending interests will be punked by the cost of servicing our debt.
We simply cannot afford the military mission we took on and continue to execute. We are very good at projecting and executing military might, but the well is dry. The fact that we are willing to go to the well and toss in our bucket doesn't change the fact that there is no water at the bottom. We need to reduce spending and scale back the mission, and turn it into a win-win by gaining concessions from Russia, China and the EU for doing so.
Ya, NATO, ist kaput. We simply cannot afford it. Time to pull our circus out of Germany and other locations and tell the EU that their geopolitical issues are their problem. Time to give up on stopping Russian territorial expansion, since we never stop them anyhow. Crimea, seized by Russia in 2014, is lost to the Ukraines; the two provinces of Georgia seized by Russia in 2008 are gone for good; the German/Polish region of Königsberg (now known as Kaliningrad) seized in 1945, the Finnish territory seized during the Winter War of 1939-40, two name but a few acquisitions, are all gone for good, are all part of Russia. Too bad. Europe has no will to oppose Russian territorial ambition, and until they grow a spine, there is no point in us being there and trying to be a spine for them.
The story in Europe is very much the story in Asia: there are a host of middle power countries that could work together to confront the neighborhood bully, but they do not. Instead, the 1. Expect us to supply their national defense for them; 2. They expect this provision of defensive services to be free of charge; 3. They continually scold us for being militaristic; 4. And finally, they abuse us in international trade as a just recompense for our excessively militaristic posture.
Even if you are not fed up with this New World Order, the fact is we cannot afford it, and never could.
We need to scale back our military mission, but give our allies time to step up and take responsibility for their own security. Let's suggest a few pull-out dates that gives our allies time to reset:
Yes, the 100th anniversary of World War Two is on the horizon. It's time to reset and rethink our foreign policy. The day has come to return to the Monroe Doctrine. The Wilson Empire is done. Long live the Monroe Republic.
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