The election of its first woman president could mean some new “sunshine” for North Korea.
(Page 2 of 2)
Park’s election may complicate the ROK’s relationship with Washington. The Obama administration appears to be skeptical of any new North Korean initiatives. That is unlikely to change after the North’s rocket launch. If Seoul moves forward, it could resurrect the tensions of the 2000s, when George W. Bush pushed isolation and liberal Kim Dae-jung practiced engagement.
It is time for Washington to ask: Why is America guaranteeing the security of a country that worries ever less about its own security? Moreover, the South is well able to defend itself — it enjoys roughly a 40-1 economic advantage, for instance. Yet even the conservative Lee government allowed South Korean military outlays to lag. Surely the U.S. should not pay to defend a country that subsidizes its enemy.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently argued: “We maintain those forces not only for help and protection of South Korea but also as a force to indicate that the United States is going to always maintain a military presence in the Pacific.” However, alliances and deployments should be a means to an end, not an end in themselves. Why maintain such a presence?
Emergency access to ROK bases would be helpful to meet unexpected contingencies, but the permanent presence of an army division with no obvious use anywhere wastes American resources and entangles American forces. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the obvious point that anyone advocating another land war in Asia should “have his head examined.”
Just as many South Koreans no longer worry much about the DPRK, Americans should no longer worry much about the ROK. The Cold War is over, South Korea’s security is not vital to that of America, and the South can safeguard its own future. Moreover, Washington is effectively broke and no longer can afford to treat defense spending as welfare for its friends.
South Korea has much of which to be proud. An impoverished dictatorship has become a prosperous democracy. If the new president wants to go back to appeasing the North, that is South Korea’s prerogative. However, there’s no reason for Washington to be subsidizing it.
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.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online