Section 8

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New at Reason: Like Cpl. Klinger wearing a babushka and wisecracking his way into all our hearts, Doug Bandow wants out of the Korea mess. In an article from Reason's print edition, he explains why.

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  1. One problem for pulling out is timing and the impression it gives. That is, you don’t want to give the impression of having knuckled under to an aggressive stance. I often think too much can be made of such things, but I can’t deny it’s a real phenomenon.

  2. JDM,

    So the big gripe with NK nukes is they’re cutting in on someone else’s market?

  3. I was a little puzzled by the assertion that North Korea’s weapons are OK because they can’t reach the West Coast. Yet. So we should just sit on our hands until they can?

  4. I’ve read both sides of this arguement, and I haven’t made up my mind on it yet. There’s good reasons to leave (we’re not wanted, not a clear and present danger to the USA) and there’s good reasons to stay (sell nukes to terrorists, hit the west coast of America with nuclear-tipped missiles at some point). The only issue I have with Doug’s essay is that he glosses over the nuke-to-terrorist threat. That IS a real possibility, not some dream thought up by the Bush Administration. They’re in the nuke business for the money, not for the security, remember.

  5. anon,

    The big gripe with NK nukes is that they are going to be controlled by a raving lunatic.

    I have no worries about France owning the bomb.

    During the cold war, there was something to be said for having troops stationed on the borders of the communist empire. I’m not sure what’s to be said for it now.

  6. Thank God we don’t have any raving lunatics in the US government.

  7. Jack,

    Indeed. That’s a good point.

  8. Three outstanding foreign policy articles today at REASON! Way to go guys.

    NK is in its death throws, it I don’t think it can hold out much longer. The danger is that they may try something desperate. Our best approach would be to give them no cause to do so. Pulling out of SK has nothing but upside, but I don’t see it happening with this administration.

  9. While it’s always conceivable that some rogue elements in Pakistan or Russia (China or India being much more remote, I think) could conspire to deliver a nuke into the hands of terrorists, North Korea is easily the most likely to conduct such a transaction as a sanctioned, state run business.

    It’s not that I think the others are too nice to do it, it’s just that they have far more reason to be concerned with the consequences of relinquishing control over weapons they possess. Any other nuclear power would have reason to be concerned that whatever terrorist group or nation they sold a weapon to might ultimately use it against them or an ally/trading partner. North Korea, in contrast, effectively has no allies or trading partners, nor terrorist groups seeking to overthrow it. The only thing to discourage them from selling a bomb to al Qaeda, Syria, Hizbollah, the Chechens, or anyone else who might scrape up a competitive bid, is their concern about retaliation or preemptive action by the ultimate target nations, chiefly the US.

  10. I couldn’t agree more. The question is, “How do we get our government to do it?”

    Pity the Bush administration believes the Cato Institute is a museum for the Green Hornet’s fearless side-kick.

  11. insteaded of not doing anything and letting these jokers fold, lets pack up and let Lil Kim attack so we have a massive regional war. US outta everywhere!!

  12. Geez, I haven’t been paying enough attention. 12th largest economy? A blue water navy and space program coming up?

    The comparison between West Germans who wanted detente in the 1970s and he antiwar positions of Japan and South Korea ingores a few central facts: there was a danger of the Warsaw Pact becoming stronger than our forces. The trend is in exactly the opposite direction between the Koreas. Also, confronting and rolling back the Soviet empire was directly relevant to America’s security. North Korea is not expanding, and having it continue to exist, while unfortunate, is not a threat to us – at least, not nearly as much of a threat as provoking a war.

  13. I too see a lot of benefits to withdrawal from Korea. One way in which North Korea is not irrelevant though, and is more than a regional nuisance, is that it its very economic and political isolation makes it the nation most likely to produce nuclear weapons for sale to the highest bidder. Simple withdrawal from the peninsula would reduce our options for dealing with that threat.

    Others would go farther, arguing that the US has long term interests in counterbalancing China in the region, and that our well-established bases in South Korea thus have military and political importance quite separate from anything having to do with North Korea. I tend to think the headaches outweigh the advantages, but it’s important to note the argument.

  14. “makes it the nation most likely to produce nuclear weapons for sale to the highest bidder”

    This is insignificant when you understand that it is the BUYERS of the nukes that are more of the problem, not the producers. If the buyers don’t buy from NK, there are many others (India, Pakistan, China, Russia) willing to sell.

  15. One reason the military will never want to pull out is for troop readiness. S Korea is still the main hardship tour for army personell, with the least ammount of actual risk to individual soldiers. I actually believe we should pull out of S Korea, but for many reason don’t see this happening within this decade.

  16. Anon,

    Buyers are many and impossible to find. Sellers are few and well known.

  17. If the U.S. were to take a super-low profile, say like Switzerland; if we were to get our troops out of South Korea, Japan, Iraq, and other countries, and adopt a neutral, “don’t care” stance, what would happen?

    Would various and assorted terrorists forget about us and stop thinking of us as a natural target? Or, because of our size, prosperity, and (relative) freedom, would we continue to excite lunatic attacks, even though we tried to wash our hands of the world’s problems?

    I don’t know the answer, but this question seems to be an essential point to consider when thinking about our international relations.

    Since we’ve tried for many decades to be the world’s policeman, without very satisfactory results, maybe we should just kick back and say, OK, you guys solve your own problems.

    (In transition period, we better remain VERY well armed.)

  18. Don,

    Germany, France, the UK, etc. are all still targets of terrorism, yet they don’t perform the role of “world cop” – at least not on the level that the US does.

  19. Another way of stating Don’s point is that our cultural and commercial aggressiveness (not in the sense of using force, but of “in your face-ness”) makes military adventurism inevitable, by generating military/terrorist/guerilla opposition among those offended by our culture. An attempt to avoid conflict by “bringing the boys back home” would have to include Hollywood distributors and Gap stores as well.

  20. OK, that had nothing to do with Don’s point.

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