Why Is The U.S. In Korea?

Posted: November 27, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Pat Buchanan asks ‘Why is the United States present in South Korea, Japan, and Europe?’

The answer appears to be inertia. How about South Korea?

Fifty-seven years after that (the Korean) armistice, a U.S. carrier task force is steaming toward the Yellow Sea in a show of force after the North fired 80 shells into a South Korean village.

We will stand by our Korean allies, says President Obama. And with our security treaty and 28,000 U.S. troops in South Korea, many on the DMZ, we can do no other. But why, 60 years after the first Korean War, should Americans be the first to die in a second Korean War?

Unlike 1950, South Korea is not an impoverished ex-colony of Japan. She is the largest of all the “Asian tigers,” a nation with twice the population and 40 times the economy of the North.

Seoul just hosted the G-20. And there is no Maoist China or Stalinist Soviet Union equipping Pyongyang’s armies. The planes, guns, tanks and ships of the South are far superior in quality.

And Japan?

High among the reasons we fought in Korea was Japan, then a nation rising from the ashes after half its cities had been reduced to rubble. But, for 50 years now, Japan has had the second largest economy and is among the most advanced nations on earth.

Why cannot Japan defend herself? Why does this remain our responsibility, 65 years after MacArthur took the surrender in Tokyo Bay?

The Soviet Empire, against which we defended Japan, no longer exists, nor does the Soviet Union. Russia holds the southern Kurils, taken as spoils from World War II, but represents no threat. Indeed, Tokyo is helping develop Russia’s resources in Siberia.

How about Europe?

Obama has just returned from a Lisbon summit of NATO, an alliance formed in 1949 to defend Western Europe from Soviet tank armies on the other side of the Iron Curtain that threatened to roll to the Channel. Today, that Red Army no longer exists, the captive nations are free, and Russia’s president was in Lisbon as an honored guest of NATO.

Yet we still have tens of thousands of U.S. troops in the same bases they were in when Gen. Eisenhower became supreme allied commander more than 60 years ago.

Across Europe, our NATO allies are slashing defense to maintain social safety nets. But Uncle Sam, he soldiers on.

While Buchanan also addresses Israel and the Arab states in largely the same way, those issues are more wedded to the present. But they still beg his fundamental question “Why does the U.S. provide a security free ride to all these states?”

Buchanan offers a couple of zingers to get off the stage.

We borrow from Europe to defend Europe. We borrow from Japan and China to defend Japan from China. We borrow from the Gulf Arabs to defend the Gulf Arabs.

We can’t let go, because we don’t know what else to do. We live in yesterday — and our rivals look to tomorrow.

Using European missile defense as an example, Europe will be paying less than one-fifth of one percent of the cost. The U.S. can ill-afford such bargains regardless, but especially if you believe a strong economy is a prerequisite for a strong defense.

  1. Coyote says:

    I think “inertia” is the right answer. We are on a “stay-the-course” trajectory. The irony is that Americans are isolationists by nature. After the second world war, however, we responded to requests in the international community to rebuild our allies and enemies alike. This grew into the United States underwriting the security of its allies through the Cold War–a service our allies still enjoy while they give us grief about it.

    There is an axiom in international relations: “Nations seldom appreciate being done a favour–even one they request.”

    The runaway approval of President Obama in Europe and Asia is hardly a curiosity, given his administration’s emphasis on international partnerships and cooperation. It appears the Obama administration is responding to our allies’ request to be done another favour.

    We already know how this will turn out.

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