Skip to comments.Why Are We Still on the DMZ?
Posted on 02/15/2013 6:18:01 AM PST by Kaslin
North Korea has just pulled off an impressive dual feat -- the successful test both of an intercontinental ballistic missile and an atom bomb in the 6-kiloton range.
Pyongyang's ruler, 30-year-old Kim Jong Un, said the tests are aimed at the United States. So it would seem. One does not build an ICBM to hit Seoul, 30 miles away.
Experts believe North Korea is still far from having the capability to marry a nuclear warhead to a missile that could hit the West Coast. But this seems to be Kim's goal.
Why is he obsessed with a nation half a world away?
America has never recognized his, his father's or his grandfather's regime. We have led the U.N. Security Council in imposing sanctions. We have 28,000 troops in the South and a defense treaty that will bring us into any war with the North from day one, and a U.S. general would assume overall command of U.S. and Republic of Korea troops.
We are South Korea's defense shield and deterrent against the North.
And while America cannot abdicate her responsibility and role in this crisis, we should be asking ourselves: Why is this our crisis in 2013?
President Eisenhower ended the Korean War 60 years ago. The Chinese armies in Korea went home. Twenty years ago, the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia abandoned communism and ceased to arm the North, and Mao's China gave up world revolution for state capitalism.
Epochal events. Yet U.S. troops still sit on the DMZ, just as their grandfathers did when this writer was still in high school.
Why? North Korea represents no threat to us, and South Korea is not the ruined ravaged land of 1953. It has twice the population of the North, an economy 40 times the size of the North's, and access to the most modern weapons in America's arsenal.
Why were U.S. troops not withdrawn from Korea at the end of the Cold War? Why should we have to fight Seoul's war if Pyongyang attacks, when the South is capable of fighting and winning its own war?
Why is South Korea's defense still America's obligation?
Had the United States moved its soldiers out of South Korea, and its planes and ships offshore, and turned over to Seoul responsibility for its own security, would the North be building missiles that can hit the United States?
Undeniably, Kim Jong Un runs a tyrannical, wretched regime. But its closest neighbors are South Korea, Japan, Russia and China.
Why is Kim Jong Un not primarily their problem, rather than ours?
Had we departed 20 years ago, the South would have built up its own forces to contain the North. Instead, we have allowed it to remain a strategic dependency. And the same holds true for Japan.
Japanese and Chinese warplanes and warships are now circling each other near what Tokyo calls the Senkaku Islands and Beijing calls the Diaoyou. These rocks were occupied by Japan in 1895, when the Empire of the Sun was at war with China and colonizing Taiwan.
After Imperial Japan fell in 1945 and disgorged its colonies, the Senkakus, along with the Ryukyus -- of which the largest is Okinawa -- were returned by President Nixon. And as the Senkakus are but a few rocks sticking out of the East China Sea, no one seemed to mind, before reports surfaced of oil and gas deposits in adjacent waters.
Beijing restated China's claim. Last week, Chinese warships reportedly locked firing radar on Japanese ships and helicopters near the islands. China denies it.
What has this to do with us?
The United States has reportedly signaled Japan that the Senkakus are covered by our mutual defense treaty and if China attacks in those waters, and Japan goes to war, we stand with Japan.
Sixty years ago, U.S. commitments to go to war to keep South Korea and Japan from falling into the Stalin-Mao sphere were supported by Americans, who willingly sent their sons to the Far East to defend the "frontiers of freedom."
But South Korea and Japan long ago became economic powers, fully capable of undertaking their own defense. And the Cold War enemies we confronted no longer exist.
Why have we failed to adapt to the new world we are in? As Lord Salisbury said, "The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies."
Vladimir Putin's Russia is not Stalin's. If Putin is in a quarrel with Japan over the Kuriles, why should that be our quarrel? If Japan is in a quarrel with Xi Jinping's China over the Senkakus, why is that our quarrel?
Are our war guarantees to Japan and South Korea eternal?
Undeniably, should the U.S. seek to renegotiate its defense pacts with Seoul and Tokyo, each would consider, given the rogue regime in the North, a nuclear deterrent of its own. This would stun and shock China.
But what help have the Chinese been to us lately?
PattyO is a special kind of stupid isn’t he. It isn’t about being ‘friends’, it is about the much greater implication on us if a regional war breaks out there. It is cheaper and easier on us to remain that firewall.
The incompetence and mystifying policies of the Clinton administration and the bizarre meddling of Jimmy Carter in 1994 has resulted in a nuclear North Korea. It really is time to leave and let wealthy South Korea and China, who strong vested interests deal with it.
Just how many ENEMIES does Pat want us to have?
We already fed him Egypt, Libya, Iraq, and other nations in that area. Does he want a UNIFIED Korea staring us down? How about Japan, would he prefer them aligned with China (and yes, Japan pays the bill for our troops, SK might, not sure)? How about our hemisphere?
What’s his end-game here? Total isolation of the US, I guess...and then, without friends, we are crushed like an ant. Nice vision, Pat.
South Korea can handle anything North Korea can throw at them and China isn’t going to allow them to use a nuke against South Korea. In fact I suspect China would crush any further NK research into nukes if we weren’t there.
Its not like we can’t project power if South Korea needs us.
Pat, your new world order is showing.
“South Korea can handle anything North Korea can throw at them”
There is a small scale version of Mutually Assured Destruction in Korea. Both sides have tens of thousands of rockets pointed at each other. If anything touches off, it will be a matter of minutes before total devastation.
One of the smarter things Rumsfeld did is quietly reduce our troop strength there...the theory being troops in the cannon fodder zone are useless, compared to troops a thousand miles away, that could at least get there after the first volley.
But, we can’t protect the border unless there are at least some ‘boots on the ground’. Why do we stay? International credibility. Same reason we’ve still got troops in Germany.
It also has the residual efect of giving us a large military footprint in the region, and we could project force from there if necessary closeby (Taiwan comes to mind).
Yet again, we are seeing the repercussion of not taking the advice of our founders to heart—staying out of foreign entanglements. Though the circumstances of our current status of alliances can be well understood. The catastrophic results of the treaty of Versailles after WWI, was a good indication that someone had to manage events of post WWII. And that someone was the U.S., as we were the only remaining nation that was not devastated by that war. The total makeup of the world would be starkly different today had not the U.S. stood against the onslaught of Communism.
As for the U.S. still being in S. Korea, some old grizzled vets that I knew, firmly believed that the goal is not to keep the north from invading the south but the south from invading the north.
The unfortunate part about our current position in the world, is that it will be virtually impossible to backtrack and leave many of those nations to the fickle vagaries, of populations no longer interested in defending themselves. Its the consequences that our national parks have long understood when visitors are told to not feed the bears.
I don’t usually agree with Buchanan but he’s right on SK. They’ve enjoyed our defense umbrella and mostly ignored their own. Like Japan, SK wants the American footprint reduced to a postage stamp. They can’t have it both ways.
Pats got a point. The South has an economy 10 times the Norths in size.
Time for them to step up and. Defend their own country . We could still be called on to back the mup without keeping. Thousands of US troops in the South.
Bring those troops home and fortify our own DMZ to the south. Let Korea spend their own money.
Why should we
spend borrow from China billions of dollars to provide for South Korea's defense?
If North Korea invades South Korea, how does that threaten the U.S.?
Why is there an implication that the U.S. must be involved in that war?
What is stupid is the assumption that America must expend blood and treasure on behalf of other countries.
Our founders warned of getting entangled in this sort of thing and its only getting worse. Now we’re getting involved all over Africa. We’re being destroyed in a similar manner to the way Reagan brought down the Soviet union.
Animal planet has a show about American special forces fighting poachers in South Africa. From what I’ve read it includes both former and current special forces troops.
No, that’s not a stupid assumption. Watch what happens once we stop.
Welcome to FR.
All Korea has to do is give their nuke to Iran who has permission to fire it from Venezuela.
And I think it’s March 15th that our southern air defense becomes non-existent. Anybody who wants can launch something into the airspace on our southern border and we won’t even necessarily know until it goes off. Not that we’d actually try to intercept something if it was headed there anyway - the lame-duck democrats were still able to get our soon-to-be-Republican House to agree to give up on developing our missile defense system in December of 2010...
When are people going to realize just how dangerous this foreign enemy combatant occupying our White House really is? Our enemies have all the capability they need, to bring this country down in a big, big way.
Buchanan is correct though about one thing: North Korea's progress in developing and proliferating nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology logically suggests that Japan and Taiwan should develop an inventory of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to deter China. The Obama administration bobbled the ball because they should have been repeatedly telling that to China and demanding that they block North Korea and replace the Kim regime. Now, the US must deliver that same message to China with all the persuasive force that can be brought to bear.
Frigging idiot isolationist Buccanan.
“South Korea can handle anything North Korea can throw at them”
One quarter of South Korea’s population is in Seoul, which North Korea is capable of flattening in a mere half hour. Rethink your statement.
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