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Differing Views on North Korean Nuclear Ambitions Make It “Hard to Retain U.S.-Korea Alliance”

Differing Views on North Korean Nuclear Ambitions Make It “Hard to Retain U.S.-Korea Alliance”

Posted January. 13, 2005 22:55,   


“We cannot retain a Korean-American alliance because of our differing views on North Korea and its nuclear program and changed security interests. It is time that we prepared a friendly divorce.”

So said the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute Ted Carpenter and research engineer Doug Bandow, who are widely believed to be liberal, on January 12, explaining its policies.

While presenting their themes, Carpenter criticized, “A country like Korea that demands equal relations between Korea and the U.S. is neglecting the demands of the U.S. for mutual cooperation.” He cited as evidence of his argument, “Some Korean government officials hope U.S. Forces stationed in Korea remain on the peninsula even after its reunification to protect the country from potential threats from China and Japan. They, however, have no intention to be involved in future disputes over Taiwan that U.S. troops might have with China.”

He also predicted, “The North Korean regime will continue to seek possession of nuclear programs now that there is no way it will receive treatment from the U.S. except in response to its nuclear ambitions,” adding, “A time may come when Korea and the U.S. must recognize this and seek security on the Korean peninsula.”

Carpenter advised that Korea and the U.S. call the point at which the North transfers its nuclear materials to a third country or terrorist groups a “red line” and make it clear to Pyongyang that all the office buildings of its leader Kim Jung Il, including his office, will be reduced to dust once it steps over the line.

Bandow argued for a gradational withdrawal of U.S. forces from Korea.

He said, “Korea has not been a point of strategic importance since the end of the Cold War and serves as a military base for its neighbors at best,” and asserted, “We can no longer retain the kind of U.S.-Korea alliance we had in the past.”

He went on to say, “Korea should stop being a free rider in security terms that depends on America’s military expenses, and be ready to spend the defense expenses required of the world’s 12th largest economy.”

However, Don Oberdorfer from Jonhs Hopkins University, refuted the discussion, saying, “The U.S. forces in Korea should remain on the peninsula as long as the threat from Pyongyang continues,” adding, “Your argument for withdrawal of U.S. forces is hard to understand.”

The professor related, “It is almost like political Russian roulette, and South Korea cannot afford to pay for its defense expenses after the U.S. troops leave.”

Yet, Selig Harrison, a liberal journalist-turned-director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy, said, “I agree with the idea that America should now get its hands off issues on the Korean peninsula.”

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com