October 31, 2005
The South Korean-American alliance has been one of the strongest in Asia, if not the strongest, since the 1950s. As Professor Moon Chung-in writes for The Korea Times, however, that bond appears to be in attenuating.
Beginning with the desecration of a Douglas MacArthur statue on the part of some Korean radicals, there is reason to think that the relationship has gone south since the golden jubilee of a few years ago. A laundry list of Korean concerns includes: the continual presence of U.S. bases in the center of Seoul, America's persistence in casting North Korea as an enemy despite the Sunshine Policy's successes on the peninsula, and the general lack of autonomy of the Korean military (which itself dates back to MacArthur's era as the nation's prelate).
Professor Moon makes it clear that the overwhelming majority of Koreans still view their ally favorably, but for a country that has been fettered by imperial powers for several centuries, U.S. policy makers would do well to take note.
He concludes with the following:
But one thing is clear. Seoul and Washington may not be able to sustain the current form of alliance, as a threat-based alliance cannot last long. In the medium- to long-run, the current military alliance needs to be transformed into a comprehensive alliance based on such common values as a market economy and liberal democracy. As in Europe, the comprehensive alliance can pave the way to a collective defense system, multilateral security cooperation, and ultimately a community of security that can assure a collective security system. South Korea and U.S. need to plan a positive transition and resuscitate the alliance by looking toward an entirely new horizon that goes beyond an exclusive bilateral alliance system.
Posted October 31, 2005 11:23 PM
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