09 March, 2005

Ungrateful Hosts

Will South Korea go the way of Turkey - a once-staunch ally that didn't come through when we really needed them? (Turkey refused to allow U.S. and allied forces to to use facilities there as a launching pad for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.) Left-wing dunce parties seem to share a lot the world over: This still represents a minority opinion in South Korea, but the audacity of the argument is startling, even as we've been hearing similar sentiments from Europe for decades:

The progressive Democratic Labor Party (DLP) [of South Korea] Wednesday [3/9] called for a system requiring parliamentary ratification from South Korea on the occasion of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) being deployed outside the Korean Peninsula. In recent months, reports on the global posture review (GPR) of U.S. troops overseas have indicated a role expansion of USFK to a regional force, which also includes the possibility of intervention in regional conflict... The DLP also claimed that the deployment of USFK outside the peninsula is illegal according to the agreement between South Korea and the U.S., which states that U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea for the purpose of protecting the peninsula.
In other words, they'd like us to stay to protect them, but they want to dictate the terms under which we do so. "Please be my bodyguard. I won't pay you an exclusive, but I don't want you taking other clients." Such friction is hardly new, but the level of audacity is reaching new highs. The net effect of accepting such demands, of course, would be a need for more total troops and funding to protect our interests around the world. With all due respect to South Korean blood expended in Iraq, neither they nor any other foreign power - particularly one that has asked for and benefited from our protection for nearly 55 years - is going to tell us how to run our military. Over 1.1 million highly trained North Korean troops remain poised in offensive forward positions near the border, just a few miles from Seoul. Do they really want to push us on this?