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So what do we get for having our 37,000 troops with a bull’s-eye on their backs at the 38th parallel DMZ? Aside from providing the North Koreans an American target they can actually hit, our presence clearly has had little impact on weapons proliferation from the Hermit state. Carpenter and Bandow point to the conflict in Iraq as just one example of the “lack of mutuality” in the current South Korean/U.S. relationship: “Opposition was fierce; aid was niggardly and reluctant,” they write. “The vast majority of the South Korean population opposed coming to the aid of the United States, despite 50 years of military protection.” The South Koreans have likewise made it crystal clear they want no part of a conflict between the U.S. and China over Taiwan.
Nevertheless, the South Korean government constantly argues the relationship with America is “unequal.” As Bandow and Carpenter explain, “If a country wants America’s protection, it cannot complain when Washington calls the shots. How can it be any other way?”
Indeed, it cannot. The relationship between South Korean and the United States is mired deeply in the paradigms of a long dead past. The two countries view the world in vastly different terms and have even more divergent policy aims. Meanwhile, America’s presence in the region has absolved the important powers there — South Korea, China, and Japan — of any responsibility for dealing with Kim Jong Il, the mad dog in their backyard.
As Carpenter and Bandow suggest, let’s tell China and South Korea we’re leaving and selling Japan a nuclear deterrent if they can’t get the wayward North Koreans into line. I assure you the possibility of a nuclear-armed Japan — rightly or wrongly — will change the attitudes of regional powers all-too content to watch America flail in the diplomatic waters with the North Koreans in a heartbeat.
It would also set a precedent that would be good news for American taxpayers: We are not going to keep our Cold War protectorates on the dole forever, especially when they can afford to defend themselves. For more than half a century, we’ve paid to defend the Free World, allowing countries ravished in World War II to rebuild themselves, invest in their own economies, and prosper. Now, we’ve got troubles in other places and a monstrous deficit. It’s time for American taxpayers and soldiers to get a piece of the good life they’ve been providing our wayward allies for decades now.
That a substantial revamping of our policies in the region is necessary should be beyond argument. With The Korean Conundrum Carpenter and Bandow have provided a prescient, vital blueprint for a new, fairer approach to American diplomacy in Asia. In fact, it is so reasonable and well argued, I have absolutely no doubt it will be completely ignored by our policy-makers. Living in the past gives them a feeling of security, even if the practical effect of putting off reform is to make us all less safe.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online