NRO on Ban Ki-Moon and the Alliance

It reads like an autopsy.

The choice of Ban Ki-moon should have been good news. South Korea and the United States are formal treaty allies. We have about 30,000 troops in South Korea, who train alongside the South’s army, and a headquarters meant to take operational control of all of them in the event of a crisis….

Yet the author, Mario Loyola,  thinks that South Korea  is  fully  capable of self-defense.  He thinks Roh and Ban really see the alliance as more of a means to the contain the United States, and I have to admit that this makes a great deal of sense to me.

[N]othing can hide South Korea’s increasing tendency to align with China — and protect the North. When Japan announced that it would beef up its strike capabilities in response to North Korean nuclear provocations, Seoul blamed Japan for increasing tensions. And this policy is a good reflection of popular sentiment: A recent poll has 40 percent of South Koreans blaming the United States for the nuclear standoff, whereas only 30 percent blame the North. Similarly, when North Korea announced plans to detonate an underground nuclear device, Beijing condemned the decision, but that was apparently the first time that China has singled North Korea out for any sort of criticism since the start of the talks.

Loyola also discusses the contoversy over The American Enterprise’s North Korea edition (two, three), South Korea’s sudden termination of funding to AEI in the wake of that criticism, and China’s hard work to put its man Ban into Kofi Annan’s chair. 

Not pretty.


  1. I have been noticing the synchronization of ROK and Chinese statements and travel plans and believe ROK will be abused in the end. But both countries have common interests. Neither wants a war over the NORKS; neither wants the US on the Yalu; neither want a militarized Japan; neither want a US led Asian verson of NATO; neither want the Norks to collapse because of American policy.

    So this is sufficient to draw them together against the US.

    China has conflicting aims with the ROK. For instance it doesn’t want an American aligned ROK unifiying the entire pennisula. The ROK clearly doesnt want a rump Korea where China has carved the North into Chinese territory. But those are battles for the future. For now, deterring and containing the US is common policy between those two. It’s this vision of Asia that is partially driving the US to exit Korea. For the ROK, their dilemma will be when the North falls and America is disinterested then who will help them stand up to the Chinese as land is contested in the North?


  2. Some in South Korea might be wanting to speed up the future. Pretty much a majority of Koreans believe “China will replace the US as the #1 superpower” in the near future – what “near” means fluctuates.

    So, some in SK, in the minority but also in influence, might be thinking it is better for the ROK to chop off the links to the US military and allaince in favor of —- convincing China it has nothing to worry about a unified Korea, because “Koreans” are already forcing the US military out. In this way, they might be thinking they can convince China not to work hard against a unified Korea if the North begins to tank: confince China not to prop up some Chinese puppet if collapse can’t be avoided, because a North Korean puppet won’t be much different from a South Korean elected leader of a unified Korea.