Defense

SoKo's Strange-but-Predictable Double Standard

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From South Korea, B.R. Myers sends an interesting New York Times op-ed detailing the South Koreans' almost blase attitude about North Korea's apparent responsibility for the deadly March attack on an SK naval ship. This is the paragraph that stuck out for me:

This urge to give the North Koreans the benefit of the doubt is in marked contrast to the public fury that erupted after the killings of two South Korean schoolgirls by an American military vehicle in 2002; it was widely claimed that the Yankees murdered them callously. During the street protests against American beef imports in the wake of a mad cow disease scare in 2008, posters of a child-poisoning Uncle Sam were all the rage. It is illuminating to compare those two anti-American frenzies with the small and geriatric protests against Pyongyang that have taken place in Seoul in recent weeks.

Where Myers chalks this up to a mix of Korean nationalism and prudent restraint, I would suggest another fundamental factor at play: When you still have 28,500 U.S. troops in a country more than a half-century after their original reason for being there, the local population will tend to take less responsibility for its own safety, and tend to take external threats less seriously, while exaggerating the nefariousness of its foreign protector. South Korea is more than rich enough to provide for its own defense, at which time you might see an altogether different set of attitudes.