Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Chief Wiggum wrote:
I appreciate the fact the ROK sent a token force to Iraq. Maybe we should have a similar token force in ROK.

The entire coalition of the willing is made up of token forces, except for the U.S., the U.K., and maybe South Korea and Poland.

South Korea, until it withdraws those 1000 troops, has more personnel in Iraq than #10 Japan, #11 Denmark, #12 Bulgaria, plus #13 through #25 combined.

But all of these countries' presence is as a symbol that they support the War on Terror (even when the countries' leaders or people themselves don't necessarily support all of Bush's aims or reasons for going to war in Iraq). And this symbolism comes with real consequences if al Qaeda decides to teach, say, Tokyo, Seoul, Warsaw, or Prague a lesson, as has happened in London or Indonesia.

USFK is still a necessary entity, not just for Korea's security, but also for Japan's, as well as U.S. interests. It is a powerful deterrent, part of a formula that has kept this long-volatile part of East Asia, from Taiwan on up, free of war for the past half century.

ROK is another country that will never grow up and defend itself as long as they can rely on U.S. forces for their protection.

Besides countries like China, Russia, and the United States, how many countries are actually capable of "defending themselves" on their own without the assistance of allies? Isn't this what alliances are for?

Korea has gone both ways on this two-way street, sending 50,000 soldiers each year to Vietnam, a peacekeeping force for the UN effort in East Timor, a medical contingent part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, and now 3200 troops to Iraq. You might not have heard about East Timor and Afghanistan because they didn't make the news when chinbo/jinbo ("progressive") groups decided to protest against them.

Korea is now a rich country capable of investing its own blood and treasure to protect its independence.

And it has and does. Korea's military expenditures are $20 billion this year (I don't think that includes the billions of dollars needed to move Yongsan facilities to P'yongt'aek), which is a rather high 2.5% of total GDP (a figure that puts Korea well ahead of most other U.S.'s allies, on part with the U.K. at 2.4%, but less than the U.S. itself at 3.3%).

And on top of that, the vast, vast majority of men do at least two years of compulsory military service, which is often grueling and dangerous.

So this idea that Korea or Koreans are getting a free ride just doesn't gel with reality.

The Korean war ended over fifty years ago.

That would be the famous Peace Treaty of what year? The guns and artillery are still poised to take down Seoul and Tokyo.

Why are 37,000 American soldiers within pissing distance of the DMZ? They would be steamrolled in a matter of days if the North Koreans attacked.

They won't be there for long. It will be just the ROK forces that are steamrolled. U.S. troops are moving away from the DMZ, south of the Han. Plus, even before troop movements and withdrawals, a lot of the forces were already farther south, manning weapons and planes that are designed to stop a North advance in its tracks. A highly effective deterrent.

As for why, the U.S. military presence is a highly effective deterrent that maintains peace, protects democratic allies, and defends U.S. interests in the region.

Victor Davis Hanson had an interesting take on our similar dealings with the Europeans. Here were his suggestions:

Withdraw as many American troops from the Continent as is not injurious to the global responsibilities of the United States. That will remind the Europeans that anti-American rhetoric has consequences, and that the pathology of the present teenager-parent relationship must end for both our sakes.

Seoul and Washington are trying to feel their way toward a more partnership-like relationship. That is part of the problem. Another part is that the current government, the highly unpopular Roh administration, is full of former leftist activists who only partially grasp the importance of a strong ROK-US alliance.

I like Hanson's idea (I snipped it, sorry) of taking some of these leftist students and sending them to the United States, so they can better understand how their beloved Cumings (Bruce) and Marx (Karl) got it wrong.

At the same time, rely more on our already cordial ties with Japan, Taiwan, India, and Australia — whose democratic societies, confident populations, and legitimate fears of a European-rearmed China equal our own.

There are large segments of the population of South Korea that fear China. Ultimately ideas of partnership with China will not work because both countries look down on the other: China sees itself as the lord of the Orient, with Japan, Korea, Mongolia, et al, under its thumb.

Right now this conservative viewpoint is distorted by a confused leftist government that is trying to manage bad relations with Beijing and Pyongyang by pretending nothing is wrong. At the same time, grievances with Tokyo and/or Washington are handled in ham-handed ways, and often incorrectly seen as a move away from the Washington-Tokyo-Seoul-Taipei camp and toward the Beijing camp, when in fact they mean no such thing.

By contrast, Taiwan's massive investment in China and its opening of ties with that country, or Japan's economic ties with North Korea (Japan is Pyongyang's #3 import partner and its #3 export partner) is not regarded with the same disdain that Seoul's opening of ties with China and North Korea is seen. Is it because the murderous, oppressive regime in Beijing is an acceptable partner (well, except for Seoul) but the murderous, oppressive regime in Pyongyang that is propped up by the murderous, oppressive regime in Beijing is NOT?

We must keep Europe in mind in all questions of U.N. reform. The European Union deserves one collective U.N. veto befitting its new transcontinental nationhood, not multiple votes as at present. India and Japan should assume their rightful places at the Security Council table next to the single European vote.

A Japan that does not effectively accept how its own major aggressions led to the death of millions just decades ago does not have a "rightful place" at the Security Council.

I don't think Japan is far from that point, but it is not there yet.

And we should press for a General Assembly composed only of elected governments, rather than the present mix of democracies and rogue regimes that often look to Europe for tolerance, subsidies, and trendy anti-Americanism.

I sympathize with this idea, but the U.N. as it stands now serves to keep all parties represented and in line to some degree. But I think it is a travesty when non-democratic governments are on, say, the human rights panels. Membership there should be predicated on democracy.

Finally, we must seek out pragmatic Europeans who are tired of business as usual, and wish to reform their union in ways that will promote American affinity. They are out there, but overwhelmed at home, and ignored by American liberals in our universities, corporations, the State Department, and elsewhere.

What does this mean, "American affinity"? If someone speaks out agains the war in Iraq but generally supports the U.S. in other areas, is that a lack of American affinity? I think right now a lot of people on the right are bashing European "anti-Americanism" simply because they don't like criticism of the war in Iraq.

I can’t think of any good reasons this shouldn’t apply to ROK, too.

I would love to see the U.S. engage more of the ROK population. In fact, a lot of these things happen, but the media lazily promotes the sensationalistic anti-Americanism when the reality is much more complex (there is a tiny segment of the population that is, at its core, anti-ROK government, anti-American, anti-Japanese, pro-North, anti-capitalist, and pro-socialist; they are highly organized and VERY ADEPT at manipulating the news in order to whip up occasional support on certain issues from a wider part of the general population that normally wouldn't support them). At any rate, the ROK population is still fertile ground for a more conservative, pro-American, pro-business, anti-Pyongyang viewpoint.

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