Troop movements in Korea
Posted by aogSaturday, 24 May 2003 at 13:14 TrackBack Ping URL
According to Friday's Wall Street Journal the US is continuing to press forward on redeploying and drawing down our forces in South Korea. “ ‘Yes, there will be a drawdown’ said a senior U.S. defense official”. The South Korean government and military is not enthusiatic about the change.

In some sense this is probably payback for both the anti-American protests (in the street and from the Roh administration) and the coddling of North Korea (such as paying $200M to have talks). On the other hand, paybacks are a form of tough love, demonstrating that actions have consequences. Moreover, the situation has changed since US troops were stationed there. South Korea is no longer an impovershed ally on the front lines of the Cold War but a relatively wealthy nation with a strong military and a reasonable government. So it's reasonable for the US to expect South Korea to contribute more.

Most of all I would say that this is a wakeup call for South Korea to start behaving more responsibly with regard to North Korea. Raising a generation that sees no difference between the Koreas is not the mark of a serious nation. It's been easy for politicians in South Korea to posture against the US by minimizing the North Korean threat because of the free security provided by the US. Reducing that support a a time when the US is itself facing threats elsewhere on the globe is good for the US and I think good for South Korea in the long term as well because it will encourage them to deal with North Korea more realistically. The prospect of handling a North Korean attack mostly by themselves may serve to wonderfully concentrate the minds of the South Korean government.