Yankee go home!
January 9, 2003 10:18 AM   Subscribe

Another reason why we can't win. If we stay, we are labeled as imperialist agressors, keeping the two Koreas apart. If we leave, the South Korean economy will collapse as investors flee (and the North might well take the opportunity to invade again); we will then be blamed for causing South Korea to collapse. The only winning move is not to play. I say leave them to it and shrug when they come crying back to us for help.
posted by mrmanley (32 comments total)
You know where all this started, right? An American (drunk?) soldier ran over and killed 2 Korean girls with his army Jeep and the US ruled he deserved "special treatment" because he was American. He was acquitted.

The small rock in the pond, if you wish...
posted by crisdias at 10:37 AM on January 9, 2003

Someone who once served there told me, "The US is there to keep South Korea from invading the North."

Food for thought.
posted by kablam at 10:39 AM on January 9, 2003

I think they're still pissed over some speed skating incident.
posted by Witty at 10:42 AM on January 9, 2003

crisdias: Why don't you actually read a newspaper and find out exactly what happened?

kablam: There might have been some truth to that in the 80s, but since Pres. Kim Young Sam was in office there has never been any kind of militaristic push to attack the North.
posted by Baesen at 10:44 AM on January 9, 2003

But this wouldn't exhibit "steely eyed resolve" and abandoning SK wouldn't "expose Clinton's capitulation to NK," would it?
We're gonna have to ask Mr. Sullivan and Captain Clueless before proceeding with this plan folks. Sorry to bring the bad news.

Just wouldn't be prudent. What with "axis of evil" and "regime change" and "pre-emptive strikes" and all, we absolutely cannot abandon South Korea. They must be forced to accept whatever Unka' Karl decides is best for SK and that's all there is to it!
posted by nofundy at 10:45 AM on January 9, 2003

Pro-US rally by South Koreans

Some folks want us there, some don't. Is that so hard to imagine or unfair? It's one of the pitfalls of a free society: not everyone thinks the same things.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:46 AM on January 9, 2003

Your analysis of the S. Korean people is pretty ham-handed, as if all of them are braying idiots calling the US presence Yankee imperialists. The bottom line is that most S. Koreans are a bit more sophisticated than that, and may have some legitimate and some not-so legitimate to be either for or against the US presence. It is precisely your attitude in dealing with other countries (reduce their fears, hopes, and desires to a childish caricature) that is the problem-- on both sides of the issue. Luckily leaders in Korea and in America are not as simple-minded as you.
posted by cell divide at 10:47 AM on January 9, 2003

The South wants to reunite but in no way ever has had any thoughts on record of wanting to invade. I was there too, ok?
We are there as a token gesture to let N.Korean, Japan, Taiwan and China know we are a presence. Should the North attack, one million against our 37 thousand (plus S. Korean military), the North knows we will send in substantial force. If we leave, we will give the go ahead to Asian countries as to the future in that area. This is not to say we ought not to leave or stay but merely to suggest why we will remain. Economy will not collapse in the South if we leave. Economy already collapsed in the North and they have 7 million starving people there. No wonder folks there join the military: for the meals.
posted by Postroad at 10:47 AM on January 9, 2003

If the south koreans hate our soldiers so much, let's get out now. We could use the billions of dollars here at home.

Of course, Georgie Porgie would figure out a way to give the savings to his puppetmasters, er, daddy's friends, doh, I really meant campaign donors.
posted by Blubble at 10:55 AM on January 9, 2003


I think you are over-optimistic about South Korea's economy absent the US presence on the border. South Korean businesses (and more importantly, their customers) depend on a stable and moderately business-friendly government in order to thrive. The chaebol (business combines like the Japanese keiretsu) would fall like a house of cards if the North threatened without the specter of US retaliation.

The problem is that young people in Korea have grown up with the security umbrella afforded by US troops, but no real knowledge of the first Korean war or the aftermath.

The South is far weaker than the North is militarily, and it wouldn't be that hard for the North to blockade the South and choke it off. I don't think the US would allow that to happen, but since the North has a nuclear arsenal, it's hard to know for sure.
posted by mrmanley at 10:58 AM on January 9, 2003

Wanna see what the effect of us being there is? Take a look at this nightime satellite shot of the Korean pennisulla. Easy to tell what's what.

This situation just SUCKS. Fool me once, shame on you...
DOES ANYONE DOUBT that they'll "fool" us again? "Sure sure, we'll stop our nuke program" with fingers crossed. What the heck would the stop for when they can just SAY they're gonna stop like they did last time.

Words are words. Actions are actions. I have no heart for the US to sit down with North Korea again. We can not let their current beligerant actions prove advantageous to negotiation process....
posted by acutetype at 11:06 AM on January 9, 2003

What seems to be the real problem to me - and critical as I am of the Bush Admin, I haven't seen them drop the ball on this one - is NK going to nuke. That would be the single most destabilizing event that region could imagine. For if NK goes, then SK will go, then Taiwan, then Japan. All these nations have the skill, they only lack the will.

On top of that, NK now realizes how lucrative the nuclear market can be. Imagine the cash that could be generated by selling weapon grade plutonium to the highest bidder. The world cannot allow that to happen. I, for one, would wholly support war with NK to prevent that scenario from unfolding.
posted by pejamo at 11:39 AM on January 9, 2003

I think we stay in Korea for awhile. If we really make an effort, maybe we can get another sitcom out of it
posted by jonmc at 11:57 AM on January 9, 2003

What seems to be the real problem to me - and critical as I am of the Bush Admin, I haven't seen them drop the ball on this one

Then you, dear reader, need to visit Joshua Micah Marshall's weblog at www.talkingpointsmemo.com to get the real scoop on the entire Korean crisis.
posted by nofundy at 12:06 PM on January 9, 2003

I, for one, would wholly support war with NK to prevent that scenario from unfolding.

Yo, pejamo, suit up! I will personally supply you with food, firearms, ammo, and a one-way ticket to Korea! Let's see how much you would "...wholly support war with NK to prevent that scenario from unfolding."
posted by LowDog at 12:12 PM on January 9, 2003

Watch out, mrmanley, you almost oversimplified a complex geo-political situation.
posted by signal at 12:56 PM on January 9, 2003

First, about the 2 young girls killed in Korea: There was no "special treatment". If a Korean, here on official service (such as a diplomat, as Korea has no military presence in the US), committed a crime, they would be granted immunity and be tried in their own courts. This is what happened with the Americans. Should they have gotten a longer sentence? Sure. But the actions taken were exactly what you expect looking at international law.

Second, the US, I believe, has treaty obligations in Korea and Japan, as far as the military is concerned. We simply can't pick up and go for that reason. As much as relations are somewhat down at the moment, as they were with Japan after the Okinawa rape incident, vast majorities in both nations want the US to remain. North Korea really would attack without the threat of retaliation.

And third, I don't really understand the concept of a unified Korea. The last time Korea was an independent, unified nation, the Ottoman and Prussian Empires were still in full force. There are very few Koreans alive who were born the last time Korea was both independent and unified.

I'm not really sure what to do in such a situation, though, other than maintain the status quo. Perhaps up the aid given, and have it dished out by an international organization rather than by the NK government. Perhaps work on getting the Koreas to sign a real peace treaty. It's a very tricky situation.
posted by Kevs at 1:07 PM on January 9, 2003

Lowdog, since when is it wrong to fight for safety of the world and the human race? And I'm not talking about the USA versus NK either, this would be a fight for the whole planet and one that both China and Russia would have to support in order avoid WWIII. A fully nuked NK, selling nukes to anyone with a checkbook is a nightmare that I would fight to prevent.

Yo, If you send me your address I will personally supply you with some home-made fluffernutter, dawg.
posted by pejamo at 1:08 PM on January 9, 2003

I'm worried that China might be behind this. They are the only party that can gain from this.

The US simply will not allow a nuclear North Korea, if not just for reasons of regional stability but also the threat of export (they export everything else.) Therefore there will be some conclusion to this. Either a North Korea that disarms, a North Korea kept completely under quarantine from the outside world (which would lead to a collapse), or there will be a military action.

But China could play a key role in all of this. The Chinese government could wait until tensions become unbearably high, when the B-2 bombers are in the air so to speak, and then come up with a "radical" diplomatic breakthrough where the North will give up arms or something under a Chinese sponsored plan, Chinese inspectors, etc. Suddenly China becomes a regional hegemon. The swing player. Whatever happens in the region from hence on will have to occur with not only tacit Chinese support, but active Chinese leadership.

For those reasons, I can imagine Chinese officials going to North Korea this fall and saying...hey, make a lot of bellicose statements, kick out some inspectors, we owe you one.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:29 PM on January 9, 2003


Capt. David A. DeMartelaere received the Soldier's Medal on December 2 at Yongsan Garrison, Korea, for his part in rescuing a Korean woman from a burning car two years ago. Capt. Edward H. Worthington, who assisted in the rescue, received his medal during the summer.

The two soldiers were the only people who stopped to help at the scene of a fiery head-on collision near Osan Air Base on December 10, 2000. One car burst into flames, killing its three occupants, and the other became engulfed in smoke from an engine fire. DeMartelaere and Worthington bent down the woman's door in order to pull her out of her smoke-engulfed car. She suffered crushed legs and several broken ribs and was hospitalized for five months.
posted by jengod at 2:18 PM on January 9, 2003

What seems to be the real problem to me - and critical as I am of the Bush Admin, I haven't seen them drop the ball on this one

Then you, dear reader, need to visit Joshua Micah Marshall's weblog at www.talkingpointsmemo.com to get the real scoop on the entire Korean crisis.

Is this what you're refering to?
The next wrinkle in the story, or the next question, may be when exactly the Bush administration found out about the NK's uranium enrichment program. According to today's always invaluable Nelson Report, former Clinton administration officials are now prepared to testify before Congress that they got intelligence about the NK's clandestine uranium enrichment program back in 2000 and briefed the incoming Bush administration folks on that intelligence at the beginning of 2001.

If that's true, says Nelson ...
Democrats are prepared to ask what the Bush people did with this intelligence, all through 2001, and why negotiations with N. Korea weren't begun on this vital topic. Democrats, and perhaps more objective observers, note that, instead, it was only in October, 2002, after months of international pressure to Pyongyang, that the subject came up.

Administration sources have refused comment on what they were told by the Clinton folks two years ago, but they frankly admit, off the record, that the Kelly mission's use of the [uranium enrichment] intelligence on Oct. 3 was designed to continue the stalemate with N. Korea, not to start substantive negotiations on nuclear weapons.

Clearly, it never occurred to them that approach this would fuel the current crisis, with N. Korea seizing the opportunity to increase the "blackmail", rather than "surrender", as some Bush hardliners apparently predicted.
Oops indeed.
posted by homunculus at 2:29 PM on January 9, 2003

A couple of facts to internalize:

- USA: off distance from NK threats.
- Japan: within NK missile range.
- South Korea (SK): Seoul (capital, 10 millions and + inhabitants) within shelling range from NK artillery (includes nukes).
- South Koreans are human beings who suffer when nukes are being thrown over their heads - like all of us.

Some questions:

- who is really threatened (hint: not the US)?
- is it OK within this setting that genius GWB changes SK's most crucial diplomatic position without even bothering to inform them by declaring NK a member of the Axis of Evil and therefore instantly wrecking the painstakingly constructed "sunshine policy"?
- isn't it rational that SK citizens after a year of trial to question the diplomatic skills of their US allies considering where GWB's diplomatic genius led NK?
- isn't it time for SK citizens to reevaluate US involvement in SK? After all it's their very life that is at stake.

My take: of all people on earth it's the South Koreans who have to worry most about Kim Jong Il - and they are fast losing trust in US diplomacy.
posted by ugly_n_sticky at 2:52 PM on January 9, 2003

Yo, pejamo: You might wanna keep the home-made fluffernutter for your personal use, because it's cold in Korea, at least it was when I was there - HHC 1/73 Armor, Fort Beavers, Korea.
posted by LowDog at 3:28 PM on January 9, 2003

SSaying the US isn't threatened by a nuclear NK is patently untrue ugly_n_sticky.

1) A nuclear NK would lead to a nuclear region. Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan would all nuclearize. This distabilizes everyone. Europe, the Middle East, North America.

2) NK is actively developing missles capable of bridging the Pacific.

3) The US has a lot of troops and prestige in the region. NK directly threatens both of these.
posted by pjgulliver at 3:35 PM on January 9, 2003

pjgulliver: whose life is threatened? I argue that it's Seoul and Tokyo that can got boom in the next hour, not L.A. Do you see the difference? Seoulites and Tokyoites do.

"The US has a lot of troops and prestige in the region." Almost all Koreans (millions of them) live in the region and they value their life higher than US prestige - and rightly so.

"A nuclear NK would lead to a nuclear region." Not true as long as the US is perceived as a reliable ally. After all, Peking's nukes are already deployed and none of these countries has gone nuclear. On the other hand if the US withdraws from SK, then ...
posted by ugly_n_sticky at 4:15 PM on January 9, 2003

Take a look at what the CIA World Factbook -- South Korea has a population of 48M compared to North Korea's 21M. They have a robust, industrial economy too. They can (and would) win any war against North Korea, assuming that they are armed appropriately and have a US-sponsored nuclear deterrent to match North Korea's puny (and perhaps non-existent) arsenal.

It's all about having the bases stay around and justifying the size of the US military. The military wants to downsize about as much as the prison system -- it doesn't matter that we lock up a higher percentage of our people than any other westernized nation. Marajuana's legalization is opposed by police primarily because it would put a lot of them out of work. Why should we be surprised when the military has the same attitude?

This, incidentally, is why Eisenhower - a Republican - warned about the influence of the military-industrial complex. He thought it was so important a message that he made it his final speech of his presidency.

"Until (WWII), the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions." .... "Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

... and that brings us to 2003. The people of the US failed to learn from Vietnam that the US military isn't always right. They felt weak when Iranians kidnapped US citizens in the 70's. They rearmed under Reagan... and now we're rearming again. We're on the verge of war with another country, despite the fact that letters poured into our politicians with about a 10-1 ratio opposing any war not supported by the UN.

There's the other war, too, that focuses on enemies within the state. We're all suspects in a crime with no charges, and we're all suspect to investigation.

Grave implications for the structure of our society, indeed. Eisenhower would have something to say about this.
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:02 PM on January 9, 2003

We're on the verge of war with another country, despite the fact that letters poured into our politicians with about a 10-1 ratio opposing any war not supported by the UN.

1. Um, last I checked Bush - at leasr currently - working through the UN.

2. The same UN, by the way, with Russia, China, and France on the Security Council with veto power - who all have large oil contracts with Saddam and stand to make them a good chunk of change if the sanctions are lifted and Saddam is still in power. (Turns out that for the UN, it is "all about oil").
posted by MidasMulligan at 5:38 PM on January 9, 2003

I had that to say about this. Linked due to length.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:10 PM on January 9, 2003

Two Items:

Results from Japan Today poll Who Is The Biggest Threat To World Peace?

The mighty No-dong - the North Korean Ballistic Missile Test Facility
posted by y2karl at 5:24 PM on January 10, 2003

How much of their nuke infrastructure is home-grown, and ho much was bought from other countries? Do they have a domestic source of Uranium?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:49 PM on January 10, 2003

"Pakistan's role in abetting North Korea's proliferation is incontestable. Indeed, it plays a dual role here. On the one hand, by being an eager customer for Pyongyang's knowhow and weapons it provides that country with much of the cash needed to keep its programs going. On the other hand, Pakistan has more recently supplied North Korea with essential components needed for its nuclear program. Thus Pakistan's relationship with North Korea reinforces both states' proliferation at both ends of this process, obtaining the cash needed to pay for ongoing proliferation and transferring or selling the necessary materials to the proliferator.

"In this way, the Pakistani-North Korea relationship perfectly epitomizes the phenomenon known as tertiary proliferation, whereby newly nuclear states or new aspirants to that status assist each other, and by doing so obtain technological, military, or financial, as well as political benefits from their relationship. It may also be the case that Pakistan acts as a middleman for a third party, in this case China, that does not want its shipments to North Korea to be directly traceable. If that is the case, Pakistan would then resemble Ukraine and Belarus, which assist proliferation and arms sales to "rogue states" on their own and are regularly used by Russian firms and authorities as middlemen for deals that Moscow does not want traced back to it."

Via Pakistan-Facts.
posted by homunculus at 8:09 PM on January 10, 2003

Last night BBC news reported talks going on behind the scenes (in New Mexico) involving NK diplomats and a former member of Clinton's negotiating team (with Bush's blessings).

Sounds like Bush has had to call in Clinton's team to sort out the mess his 'Axis of Evil' speech started.
posted by niceness at 1:52 PM on January 11, 2003

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