Jewish World Review Jan. 16, 2003 / 13 Shevat, 5763

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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Why the United States should withdraw all of its military forces from South Korea as rapidly as we reasonably can | A conversation Washington Post reporters Peter Goodman and Joohee Cho had with three cappucino-sipping women in a Starbucks in Seoul illustrates why the United States should withdraw all of its military forces from South Korea as rapidly as we reasonably can.

"If North Korea wants nuclear weapons, I think they should have them," said Kim Young Ran, 29. "There is no way North Korea will attack us with nuclear weapons. We're the same country. You don't bomb and kill your family."

The United States has troops in South Korea because, 52 years ago, North Korea invaded South Korea, beginning a war in which a million South Koreans were killed, mostly by their North Korean "brothers."

But we have troops in South Korea now mostly because we have had troops in South Korea for 50 years. Times change. Circumstances change. But our policies often don't change with them. I learned this firsthand when I took part in a war game in the Pentagon during the Reagan administration.

The scenario was another Korean War. In the period leading up to the fighting, we hypothesized landing Marine reinforcements. I asked why the Marines were coming ashore at Pusan, which is in the southeast corner of the Korean peninsula, about as far from the locus of action as it is possible to get. The answer was because that's where the Marines landed in 1950.

There was a good reason for the Marines to land at Pusan in 1950. The North Koreans had overrun the rest of the country. But that wasn't the case in our scenario, where ports much closer to the DeMilitarized Zone were available.

Inertia prevailed over common sense in our war game, and it is again now.

The presence of American troops in Korea has become counterproductive to our goals in the region. They are seen less as protectors than as provocateurs who could drag South Korea into war.

Anti-American feeling is rampant in South Korea, especially among the young. In a recent survey conducted by the Korea Gallup organization, 53 percent of all Koreans - and 75 percent of Koreans in their 20s - said they disliked the United States.

If we were to withdraw our forces from South Korea, there is no particular reason why we should have a quarrel with North Korea. Kim Jong Il's is an ugly regime. But there are many ugly regimes on the planet. There is very little North Korea can do to harm us. There is a great deal North Korea can do to harm South Korea and Japan, but that is chiefly their problem. There is no longer a need for us to make it ours.

North Korea is rattling the nuclear saber mostly to extort international economic aid, without which it will collapse. South Korea and Japan wish to deal with North Korea by appeasing it. That choice may be folly, but it is their choice to make. If South Korea and Japan wish to pay the Danegeld, we ought not to oppose it or to participate in it.

Both North and South Korea accuse us of "imperialism." But our real sin is excessive parenting. We continue to treat South Korea as if it were a helpless child. South Korea was helpless when we came to its aid in 1950.

But that was half a century ago. South Korea today has more than twice the population and nearly 40 times the national wealth of North Korea. South Korea is capable of defending itself if it chooses to do so. If South Koreans choose not to do so, we cannot protect them from the consequences of their folly, and it would be foolhardy to try.

Children who have their adolescence prolonged tend to lash out at their parents, as young people in South Korea are lashing out at us now. Just as a 29-year-old ought not still to be living with his parents, South Korea ought not still to be living under our military protection - especially if South Koreans don't want it.

If we were to withdraw from South Korea, neither the North nor the South could continue to use us as an excuse for failing to deal with each other. I think there is a fair likelihood of another war if we withdraw. But there is also the possibility of genuine peace.

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01/14/03: Federal incompetence driven by political correctness, not trampling of civil liberties, is what we should fear
01/09/03: Bag this boondoggle: The V-22 Osprey would hurt our national defense
01/07/03: Another Korean war?
01/02/03: Ostriches
12/26/02: Learning from Canada's economic suicide
12/24/02: A moral dilemma: Support a vicious fascist dictator or the poor and downtrodden?
12/20/02: Time to tell the truth: The great movement of blacks to the Democratic Party took place for economic reasons, not because of civil rights
12/18/02: Nothing better illustrates Trent Lott's unfitness for the post of Senate Majority Leader than his desperate efforts to cling to it
12/16/02: Debunker mentality: It's hard work not seeing ties between Iraq and al-Qaida
12/12/02: GOP ideologues turning on Lott --- better sacrifice the leader than the party
12/06/02: Curing our democracy of afflictions
12/02/02: Conscription, like the horse cavalry, is an artifact of a bygone time
11/27/02: What Saddam faces
11/25/02: Why war with Iraq can be averted
11/19/02: A draft would harm the military
11/12/02: The 2002 elections and Nixon
11/07/02: Democratic overreaction to our recent "cosmically important" election
10/30/02: Show North Korea we're serious: Polish off Saddam
10/22/02: The squealing in the Pentagon is a proof of Rummy's effectiveness
10/16/02: The tactical challenge we face
10/10/02: Silence more despicable than seditious noise
10/08/02: Bu$h and the bu$ine$$ of war
10/01/02: Gore's calculated risk may well get him the Dems' nomination
09/25/02: Schroeder may find the fruits of victory sour
09/25/02: Making Saddam change his spots
09/19/02: Bush's resolve already has paid dividends
09/17/02: Courageous Iranians
09/13/02: If you never served in the military, you have no right to an opinion
09/10/02: Why the 'air marshals' will fail
09/05/02: Resurrecting the "Happy Darky"
08/31/02: Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?
08/23/02: Dems can't take the minority vote for granted any longer
08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right
08/15/02: Mineta's war on what?
08/13/02: When Gore said he wanted to be his 'own man,' what was he thinking!?
08/08/02: Picking a tree for Cheney's hanging
08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
08/01/02: The greatest strategic deception since Eisenhower convinced Hitler the Allies were going to land at the Pas de Calais?
07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
07/26/02: Journalists are making sure Americans can't differentiate between the stock market and the economy
07/23/02: Iran's is on the verge of a social and political explosion. So why is media ignoring it?
07/17/02: FBI isn't supposed to stand for Foolish, Blind and Incompetent
07/12/02: The ICC tramples on rights Americans take for granted
07/09/02: Was LA International Airport shooting, in fact, good news?
07/02/02: What the "intelligence community" can learn from Alexander the Great
06/28/02: Muslim link in Oklahoma City bombing revisited
06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
06/21/02: Stirring the security pot
06/18/02: Why the military is so messed up
06/14/02: Vast majority $68.7 billion proposed for weapons will be spent on systems of little use in the war on terror
06/12/02: Bush saw them and raised them, and he's holding the aces
06/10/02: Some heads need to roll
06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
05/31/02: So the FBI has finally caught up to our priorities?
05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
05/21/02: There is a great deal to fret about, but I've never been more optimistic
05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
05/07/02: Want to win the 'war on terror'? Reinstate the draft
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
04/29/02: Islamic 'smarts'
04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly