South Korean President Park Geun-hye postponed her trip to the U.S. because of a public health emergency at home. Unfortunately, the delay won’t make a future Park trip any more useful.
There is much on which the two nations should cooperate. But the military alliance is outdated. Despite having surged past the North, enjoying a 40-to-1 economic advantage and 2-to-1 population edge, Seoul continues to play the helpless dependent, unable even to command its own forces in a war.
South Korea eventually took off economically and adopted democracy. Yet through it all South Korea’s defense dependency on America persisted.
The South Korean government isn’t even willing to take over operational control, or OPCON, of its own forces in wartime. It isn’t ready, it insists. Yet North Korea commands its forces.
Of course, some South Koreans admit that they most fear shifting command would encourage Washington to withdraw its troops. Thus, their objective is to appear as helpless as possible as long as possible to retain the U.S. troop tripwire.
The present arrangement obviously is bad for America. Protecting South Korea isn’t cheap.