Time To Get the Hell Out of Korea, by Doug Bandow

It’s way past time to get out of Korea. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

Washington’s policy toward Korea – both Koreas, actually – isn’t going well. President Donald Trump calls the North’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un his “friend,” but Kim might be on his deathbed, incapacitated, or just hiding out to confuse his adversaries. In any case, the two haven’t talked since last summer, after a brief handshake while meeting at the DMZ when Trump visited the South. Negotiations between their underlings sputtered out in the fall.

South Korea is a longtime defense dependent, with the relationship forged in the Korean War which began 70 years ago this coming June. However, last year the administration demanded that Seoul increase its contribution toward the U.S. garrison under the Special Measures Agreement more than fivefold, to $5 billion annually. The Republic of Korea balked and talks deadlocked. The US recently furloughed thousands of ROK employees, which probably hurts American personnel, who must make up the work, more than Seoul.

As Washington officials speculated on who in North Korea currently possesses the key to that nation’s nuclear arsenal they tried to sound a reassuring note, claiming to have contingency plans if Kim dies. However, the Supreme Leader’s unexpected departure for beyond the River Styx would set off a brutal and possibly bloody power struggle – imagine millions of refugees, loose nukes and other WMDs, open warfare, and both South Korean and Chinese generals determined to intervene. Yet at this moment of uncertainty the US relationship with Seoul, which provides most of the troops on the ground, is strained and uncertain. Much could go wrong.

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