The U.S.-South Korea alliance has outlived its usefulness. Instead of reassuring Seoul, the Trump administration should prepare to renegotiate the alliance, creating a looser but more equal cooperative military relationship. South Korea should take on responsibilities commensurate with its capabilities.
Obviously the world is a messy place. But what stresses American policymakers? It’s not the problem of defending the U.S. No other country has a conventional capability to reach America. Thus, America's national security team need not worry about the sort of potential threats facing virtually every other nation.
Almost every “natural” crisis in North Korea is exacerbated by the ruling regime’s totalitarian economic and political policies. Equally harmful is the diversion of scarce resources into Pyongyang’s oversize military and active missile and nuclear programs.
Perhaps the best justification for voting for Donald Trump is to upset the expectations of those who believe that American taxpayers exist for the benefit of the rest of the world.
Washington doesn’t need to “win” in the Philippines. Better that the American people win by dropping an expensive and risky commitment to go to war on behalf of a nation largely irrelevant to U.S. security.
U.S. policy toward the North Korea has failed. Successive U.S. presidents have inveighed against a nuclear North Korea and insisted that the North would not be allowed to become a nuclear state. It is one. And its capabilities are growing.
Extended nuclear deterrence always has been a risky proposition for the U.S. It means being willing to fight a nuclear war on behalf of others, that is, Americans would risk Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles to, say, defend Berlin and Tokyo.
America’s fiscal position is deteriorating sharply. Earlier this year the Congressional Budget Office forecast that the federal deficit was back on the rise in 2016, with steady increases expected over the next decade. There isn’t going to be much money for the national government to spend on “discretionary” items, including underwriting wealthy allies, rebuilding failed states, and enforcing international norms.
The U.S. is expected to protect virtually every prosperous, populous, industrialized nation. But that’s just a start. Washington also must coddle, pamper, praise, uplift, pacify, encourage, and otherwise placate the same countries because they now believe it to be America’s duty to handle their defense. Alas, U.S. leaders have been only too willing to enable this counterproductive behavior. Except for Donald Trump.
The way Washington won agreement from some nuclear-capable powers to abstain from going nuclear is to provide a “nuclear umbrella,” that is, promise to use nukes to defend them if necessary. As a result, the price of nonproliferation in East Asia is America’s willingness to risk Los Angeles to protect Seoul and Tokyo, and maybe Taipei and Canberra too. Trump was right, the U.S. ought to discuss whether those commitments are still in our interest.
Washington’s allies generally are a pathetic lot. Benefiting from sizeable and capable populations and enjoying large and advanced economies, they nevertheless can’t be bothered to invest heavily in their own defense, so the bulk of Washington’s over-size military outlays are to project power for the benefit of its ne’er-do-well allies.
If there was no cost to strewing U.S. personnel around the world and threatening war against potentially hostile powers, there would be little complaint with Washington’s policy. Alas, military spending is the price of America’s foreign policy. Most of the Pentagon’s efforts are devoted to protecting other nations rather than the U.S.
Most Republican Party presidential candidates insist that Washington do more on behalf of its already subsidized, protected, coddled, and reassured allies. Why do U.S. politicians put the interests of other nations before those of America?
Washington has spent decades collecting allies, like many people accumulate Facebook “Friends.” After Valentine’s Day Washington should send the equivalent of a “Dear John” letter to at least a half dozen foreign capitals. America has many undeserving deadbeat friends.
In Northeast Asia, nonproliferation has become the international equivalent of gun control: only the bad guys have guns. Russia, China, and North Korea all are nuclear powers, why not let South Korea take responsibility for its own defense?
The U.S.-South Korea military alliance once made sense. No longer. American policy will not have really succeeded until South Korea ends its embarrassing security dependence on Washington.
There never has been any question about the extraordinary nature of North Korea's tyranny. But the United Nations just released its own gruesome analysis.
Today Washington policymakers are fixated on negotiations with Iran. While the ultimate success of negotiations remain in doubt, a more stable peace at least appears possible. Not so on the Korean peninsula.