Friday, June 01, 2007

No. Wrong. Nyet.

Jonathan Alter gets a lot right, when he says that Bush is a moron for comparing Iraq to Korea. This, however, is very very seriously wrong.
U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea at the explicit request of the South Korean government and people. When President Carter raised the possibility of pulling them out in 1977, American Gen. John K. Singlaub was not the only one to object. South Koreans know that American forces are the only thing standing between them and being overrun by a million North Korean troops stationed just over the border. Only now, more than 50 years after the end of hostilities, is the formal state of war being brought to a close. Aside from some demonstrators once in a while, no one in South Korea seriously wants our troops to go, at least until the threat from the North recedes and unification begins. Then we’ll be gone.
No, they won't. American troops haven't left Germany, almost 20 years since the Cold War began to unravel. And that may even be a good thing -- that's an argument for another time. US leaders will continue to want an armed, armored presence on the Asian mainland because, among other things, China will continue to exist on the Asian mainland. Absent an explicit, and strident, request by the United Korean government for American forces to depart (a la Philippines, 1991) those forces are staying right the hell where they are. (Actually, they'll probably be redeployed to the south of the peninsula, if possible.)

America puts major armed forces bases all over the world because, well, that's what America does. For American commentators to suddenly wake up to this fact and find it objectionable in the case of Iraq is kind of funny.

Oh, and those few, scattered demonstrators who want America to leave Korea? They include 54% of the country. To go back to a previous post: it's simply astonishing how ignorant even well-educated Americans are about their own foreign policy, or the desires of living breathing people around the world.

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