The Death of an Alliance, Part 41

I don’t know how much deader you can get than this:

In a seismic shift in an alliance that has held since the Korean War, the military plans to scrap Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command by 2012, it emerged Sunday. Wartime operational control of Korean forces will also return to the country, probably by 2011, since it now rests with the commander of the U.S.-led CFC.

According to a military source, plans to abolish the CFC are clearly stated in the top strategy document from the Joint Chiefs of Staff “Joint Military Strategy.” The document is updated every three years and serves as a basic guideline for all strategic and organizational schemes of the Korean military. The source said the “independent defense” promoted by the Roh Moo-hyun administration will be achieved in six years’ time, with the return of wartime operational control and the CFC’s demise the pivotal points.

Clearly, these plans have been well underway for some time, and probably with some consultation with the Pentagon. And while I’ve long believed in euthenizing the U.S.-Korean alliance rather than letting it go on in prolonged agony, you have to wonder how the 60-odd percent of the Korean population that will likely oppose this is going to deal with such a profound change imposed by such an unpopular government. It’s as if the U.S. and Korean governments are each taking advantage of the other’s unpopularity to get something they really want, but don’t really believe is in the best interest of the other.

What form [sic] a CFC-free bilateral military alliance will take is not yet clear. Under consideration are a strengthened role for the existing UN Command, also commanded by the U.S., or a new formula where each ally commands its own troops while supporting and supplementing the other’s fighting power.

Or complete military independence. Don’t forget that one. It’s certainly far more likely than the U.S. agreeing to give Kofi Annan any say over the disposition of U.S. forces overseas.

The curious fact, as pointed out by commenter changehappens, is the possibility that in 2008, the U.S. government could be run by liberal Dems, while if current trends continue, Korea’s will end up being run by Park Geun-Hye or Lee Myung-Bak. Koreans should not count on liberal Democrats, with their reflexive aversion to posting U.S. troops overseas, reinforcing or prolonging a U.S. troop commitment to a place as potentially dangerous as Korea. For decades, conservatives were the backbone of the alliance’s constituency. Thanks to broad-based anti-Americanism, most conservatives have abandoned that constituency, and no one is going to step forward to take their place.

1 Comment

  1. The plot thickens on this one, Joshua!

    For decades, conservatives were the backbone of the alliance’s constituency. Thanks to broad-based anti-Americanism, most conservatives have abandoned that constituency, and no one is going to step forward to take their place.

    But what if a conservative Korean administration, touting human rights and regime-change in North Korea came into being?

    If the Democrats come to power in the U.S. and wish to withdraw from the peninsula with a clear opposition from the Korean government, will the Right in the U.S. be able to resist the temptation to assail the Democratic administration for its militarily “weak” policy a la “Who lost China?”

    The permutations are many on this one.




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