U.S. foreign and defense policy long has been brain dead. ‘Whatever has been must ever be’ seems to be the Pentagon’s mantra. That’s the typical response to the idea that Washington should bring home its troops and allow South Korea to defend itself.
The Republic of Korea has grown up and surged past the North. The ROK should use its abundant wealth and larger population to close the military gap. Just as most Americans expect those on welfare to get a job to take care of themselves and their families, the ROK should step up and take care of itself.
There may be good arguments against the proposal. But I have yet to hear them. Instead, what dominates is the tyranny of the status quo.
Perhaps the best, or at least most interesting, counter is that America must babysit the ROK lest a frightened Seoul go nuclear in response to the DPRK. In fact, Washington’s conventional forces do nothing to forestall a North Korean nuclear bomb.
But will the ROK believe in America’s nuclear umbrella without a conventional guarantee? Washington has risked war on Seoul’s behalf for six decades. If that’s not enough, the problem might be the weak case for Washington to turn other nations’ nuclear wars into America’s nuclear wars.
If Pyongyang eventually develops a miniaturized nuclear warhead and reasonably accurate ICBM, what risks would Washington take on South Korea’s behalf? Why should the United States turn a peripheral geopolitical problem into an existential threat?