The U.S. alliance with the Republic of Korea has been America’s most consistently dangerous commitment since the end of World War II. Yet South Korea is beginning to look away from the United States for its defense. Newly elected President Roh Moo-hyun campaigned on a plat-form of revisiting the security relationship, and he has attempted to adopt the role of mediator between America and North Korea.
Recently attention has been focused on events in North Korea, but the North Korean nuclear controversy must be considered within the context of the U.S.-ROK security relationship. The future of America’s relations with South Korea is complicated by Washington’s unnatural military presence on the Korean peninsula, and no solution is likely until that unnatural presence is removed. The 37,000 U.S. troops in the South are a Cold War artifact, and the U.S.-ROK alliance—once considered valuable—must be reconsidered. It is time to restructure that relationship, and the United States and the ROK should begin planning for removal of all American forces from the Korean peninsula.