Tarry for the Nonce

February 22, 2006

Not a Neutral Pyongyang

Filed under: Politics — lmwalker @ 9:37 am

Would it be such a bad thing if the U.S. presence was removed from South Korea?

Nearly half of South Korean youths who will be old enough to vote in the country’s next elections say Seoul should side with North Korea if the United States attacks the communist nation, according to a poll released Wednesday . . .

A majority of those surveyed, 54.1 percent, said peaceful reunification was the preferred method for ending the division on the peninsula.

I presume that “reunification” would mean absorption into North Korea. I suppose it would be political disadvantageous for the United States to leave, but perhaps our presence is unnecessary if South Korea no longer cares to be protected from their northern neighbor.

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7 Comments

  1. This sort of stupidity is not exactly new in Korea.

    Frankly, I’m tempted to put this issue to a vote. Let the Koreans decide: do they want Americans on their soil, or not? If they say “no,” then let’s not spend the money and manpower. The Cold War is over, and Korea just isn’t that important, strategically.

    Then we can see. If North Korea chooses to stay out, then we’ll save a lot of money and find something better for our forces to do. On the other hand, if the Koreans turn out to be wrong about their neighbor and get invaded, annexed, and plundered, it’ll be a nice practical lesson in strategy for everyone from Japan to Europe. I’m guessing that Okinawan demands for the removal of the U.S. base on that island will cease at once.

    One other thing: if the U.S. does leave, I’d support giving refugee status (which ultimately can lead to permanent residency and citizenship) to any South Korean who asks for it. Absorbing a few million wealthy, well-educated people will not be a problem for the U.S., and we won’t abandon good people to a dictator just because their compatriots made a bad decision. Everyone else can follow their beliefs through to their logical conclusion, and see just how long one can eat ju-che.

    Either way, at least the U.S. can’t be accused of being an “occupier.”

    Comment by Toly — February 22, 2006 @ 12:57 pm

  2. Unfortunately, it’s not only about South Korea. I think we have a couple of allies there who would be quite upset if we withdrew our presence from South Korea (not only Japan springs to mind).

    We don’t live in a unidimensional world.

    Comment by auntlori — February 23, 2006 @ 9:57 am

  3. The reunification of the agricultural north with the industrial south would create a much more powerful Korea. Given that the current dictator of the north is a raving madman, I am not sure if we would be the ones, in the long term, to learn a lesson. (Certainly it would make his production of missiles with nuclear warheads a whole lot easier.) Part of the problem, as I see it, is that the leaders who have governed in the south have been oppressive and have violated human rights themselves. Even the Catholic Church must function under intolerable reins and the number of men in the seminary is not allowed to surpass 100. That is why so many Korean seminarians are studying to be priests in the United States. However, if the Communists gain control of the south, I am also worried that what happened in Vietnam could happen there. Ten thousand native born clergy were rounded up and shot. Infiltration of the south by Communist sympathizers has also been a determined campaign that seems to be paying off, finally.

    The old Soviet Union is gone, hopefully dead and not just sleeping, but China is florishing. While the Bamboo Curtain is more porous than the defunct Iron Curtain, nevertheless, as the discussion about the Internet censorship revealed, it still seeks the dominion of the hearts and minds of people. This is why even Asian Communism will always be an enemy of the Church, if not to Western Capitalists who prefer Oriental sweatshops to paying homegrown workers a just wage.

    I have an old parishioner who fought in World War II (both fronts), Korea and Vietnam. He was wounded multiple times. Although a flight engineer, he tried his hand as a gunner when his buddy beside him was blown in half. They tied him to a boomline and sped him below a helicopter to grab the wounded from the grass in Vietnam and Korea. He would come home covered in blood, his and theirs. He rescued countless men by helicopter in Vietnam and was the flight engineer that all the generals wanted. He is in his late 80’s now and he cries when middled-aged men that he knew as boys die in Afghanistan and Iraq. What am I trying to say?

    If South Korea should decide to reunite with the North in a Communist government, I hope that God takes John home first. He should not see given away that for which so many of his brothers suffered and died.

    We also haver other aliances, notably with Taiwan, the Philippines, and Japan. A reunited Korea under a Communist dictator would pose a real threat to their security. I suspect that it would lead the new Japan to quickly arm themselves again– particularly if confidence in the United States should be lost.

    Comment by Father Joe — February 23, 2006 @ 10:10 am

  4. Auntlori, I understand that there are some strategic implications to leaving S. Korea, but nonetheless, shouldn’t Koreans have a choice as to whether they want our troops on their soil? Or is the United States going to forcibly occupy South Korea, even if Koreans don’t want us there?

    As for Father Joe’s point, it’s interesting that North Korea is supposedly “agricultural,” while the South is industrial — before the communist revolution in Korea, exactly the opposite was true. These days, the South certainly is heavily industrialized, but the North is hardly agricultural (as evidenced by all that food aid we’d been shipping there not long ago…) Two thirds of the North’s workforce works outside agriculture.

    The reason that North Korea isn’t more of an industrial powerhouse isn’t because they have some kind of agrarian economy — it’s because they are so bad at running an economy of any kind. Were they to take over the South and not change their ways, all that would happen is a repetition of the same ruinous cycle that destroyed the robust industry of northern Korea that existed before Kim Il Sung took over the place.

    Now as for the carnage that would likely follow in the wake of such a takeover — yes, that’s what I would expect to happen. That’s why I put in that part about allowing Koreans to enter the U.S. before American withdrawal. For those who stay, it’s their fate; unlike their northern cousins, they have a free choice and full access to information about the North. If they continue to insist on being stupid and thinking that their “brothers” wouldn’t hurt them, I see no reason for Americans to spend money, treasure, political capital, and risk our lives to keep them from facing the consequences of their own delusions.

    Comment by Toly — February 23, 2006 @ 10:22 pm

  5. shouldn’t Koreans have a choice as to whether they want our troops on their soil? Or is the United States going to forcibly occupy South Korea, even if Koreans don’t want us there?

    Oh, absolutely not. But I also believe that, if it were put to a vote — and I think it highly unlikely that it would be put to the people — the vote would run in favor of maintaining the US presence. I doubt that the government is blind to the national security impact of a S.Korea with no US presence.

    Although, if they are blind, then I say leave them to their fate. Or would that be a responsible postion? I mean, aren’t we the world’s policeman or somesuch (negative?) paean to our current hegemony?

    I suspect that it would lead the new Japan to quickly arm themselves again– particularly if confidence in the United States should be lost.

    This is already happening in Japan. Isn’t it quite recently that, for the first time since WWII ended, the Japanese government began building a military? They have the technology. Now all they need is the will to take over some of their own defense instead of depending on the US to defend them without their being pro-active in the defense.

    Comment by auntlori — February 24, 2006 @ 10:07 am

  6. Up until recently North Korea was one of the largest grain producers in the world. However, they have had serious natural disasters for about a decade that have devastated the country. It has had to import a great deal of food.

    Over the last 50 years, the North, with Russian and Chinese assistance and the South, with U.S. help, have both tried to be complete and independent countries. However, political questions aside, they really need each other in terms of resources.

    It may be that my comments segregating industry and agriculture no longer apply? Here are the most recent statistics:

    Land Area
    N Korea – 120,410 sq km
    S Korea – 98,190 sq km

    Population
    N Korea – 22,912,177
    S Korea – 48,422,644

    Agricultural Work Force
    N Korea – 36%
    S Korea – 8%

    Industrial Work Force
    N Korea – 34%
    S Korea – 19%

    Services Work Force
    N Korea – 36%
    s Korea – 73%

    Arable Land
    N Korea – 20.76%
    S Korea – 17.18%

    Permanent Crops
    N Korea – 2.49%
    S Korea – 1.95%

    Comment by Father Joe — February 24, 2006 @ 12:07 pm

  7. Yes, Japan is taking steps to rebuild a military, largely at the behest of the U.S., given that they have become one of our closest allies. It has also been a heavy price tag over the last half century. This move will allow them to supplement our presence while allowing us to redirect our concentration on Afghanistan and Iraq. Also, while U.N. and American troops can base in South Korea, given bad history and racial bias, I doubt any of the Koreans would sit for a large Japanese military presence based there.

    The more difficult question, given the Japanese abhorence of nuclear weapons, will be how far they will take their build up given real threats from North Korea and continued rivalry with China. The Japanese still have a distinct sense of honor that fuels their courage. Given time, they might become as formitable a military power as they are a commercial one.

    Comment by Father Joe — February 24, 2006 @ 12:25 pm


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