Should Americans care more about South Korea than America?
By Doug Bandow
Hawaii’s embarrassing missile alert should remind Americans of the increasing price they may pay for treating the security of allies as more important than their own. The purpose of alliances should be to better protect the U.S. Yet the defense commitment to South Korea soon could result in a nuclear attack on America’s homeland.
The “mutual defense treaty” with the Republic of Korea grows out of the Cold War, at a time when the U.S. and Soviet Union were competing globally. The ROK mattered not because the Korean Peninsula was inherently important for U.S. security, but because South Korea was part of the superpowers’ “Great Game.”
That ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Then the struggle between the two Koreas was just another regional confrontation.
More important, the South today possesses roughly 45 times the economic strength, twice the population, and a vast edge in technology, international status, global connections, and most every other measure of national power over North Korea. It beggars belief that the ROK could not defend itself.
So why does Washington continue to promise the full faith and credit of the U.S. – backed by Americans’ abundant wealth and lives – toward the South’s defense? It is foolish to treat a pact made more than six decades ago as permanent, irrespective of changing circumstances.
At least until now U.S. policymakers could comfort themselves that the conflict would be “over there,” to use Sen. Lindsey Graham’s infamous term. No longer, however.
If the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea makes a reliable ICBM, it will be able to bring the conflict “over here.” Now a “splendid little war” overseas could result in Americans at home sharing the consequences.
There is no reason Pyongyang cannot be contained and deterred. But that isn’t a solution for Washington, which wants to retain the ability to attack […]