Monday, November 28, 2011

A Modest Proposal For The Defense Of South Korea

We're spending a fortune defending South Korea from North Korea. 

We've been spending billions per year there ever since our unsuccessful Foreign Policy Adventure there in the 1950's. 

You can go here and here to learn more about the relatively small amount that the Republic Of Korea contributes toward this effort.  The rest is an outright massive subsidy of the Korean government.  And Korean industry. 

As long as Lockheed, Bell, Halliburton, etc. are contributing toward election campaigns, this isn't likely to change.

We keep sending our children over there to not fight, and then they retire at age 45 with massive pensions. 

We're 15 trillion in debt.  What to do, what to do? 

Here's a suggestion.....  Let's outsource the defense of Korea to the Koreans !!!!

Seriously.  We could start paying the Koreans to defend their own country.  It would cost less. 

We wouldn't have to move so many people around.  It would be a "green" movement. 

We wouldn't necessarily have to pay pensions for Korean retirees. 

As a cost-cutting measure, I see nothing wrong with this idea. 


Nick Rowe said...

Lockheed ranks 31st on the list of Heavy Hitters, donating a measly $21 million over a 13 year period, split evenly between Reps and Dems. They are behind Emily's List that gives exclusively to Dems.

Bell South is on the list, but I'm not sure if that's the Bell you're talking about. They donated $13 million in 13 years, evenly split.

Halliburton doesn't even make the top 140.

So we accomplished nothing in Korea? Other than, you know, keeping South Korea from being taken over by a communist dictatorship. Instead, they have a vibrant capitalist democracy and we have a forward operating base in Asia.

South Korea has conscription, and the ROK Army trains some of the toughest soldiers in the world. South Korea has stood by our side in almost every conflict. They are among our strongest allies.

I'll buy that for a dollar.

CenTexTim said...

This may be illustrative of the differences between ideologically pure libertarians (e.g., Ron Paul, Allen Patterson) and hybrid libertarian/conservatives such as myself. I consider China a strategic threat to the national interests of the US, which I believe are worth defending.

I also agree with Nick that allies such as the South Koreans, Japanese, etc. have value. The value consists of their geographic location, their economic ties, and their military capabilities and support. Admittedly, such value is difficult to quantify. But that doesn't mean we should ignore it.

No argument that it is worthwhile to regularly review and reevaluate our alliances. As you have often said, some or much of our presence in Europe may be unnecessary. But IMO we shouldn't remove all our forces from there either.

And in a separate but related thread I worry about our reliance on Chinese products - especially components for electrical/digital devices critical to our national defense. I think they would gladly take the hit to their economy in exchange for degrading our military capabilities.

BTW - Between this and the recent climate change posts, are you deliberately trying to provoke reactions, or are you just responding to current events? Inquiring minds want to know...

Nick Rowe said...

Tim, the climate change posts are clearly based on current events - the recent release of more Climate Fraud emails. It's amazing how deep the rabbit hole goes.

As for this post, Allen probably had some Korean BBQ recently. :)

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I would call myself 98% sincere. I'm always amazed by what gets a response, links, or traffic via emails.

What do we need with a forwarding base in the ROK?
What would Belgium need with a forwarding base in Miami?
Why would Canada need one in Mexico City?
We're spending absolutely ludicrous amounts of money all over the world, and we're broke.

CenTexTim said...

Why do we need a forward operating base in Korea? Two reasons: one, they are our 7th largest trading partner, both in terms of exports (us to them) and two-way trade. If North Korea invades (again) it would harm our economic interests.

The second reason is a more intangible geopolitical one. I view China as a potential adversary. (NPR has a pretty good series on how China is expanding its reach - politically, economically, and militarily.) Having forward operating bases in that region (e.g., Korea, Japan) serves as a counterweight to Chinese expansionism that, IMO, threatens our national interests.

The difference between the US in Korea and Belgium in Miami is that (1) we have a vested interest in a healthy South Korean economy; and (2) South Korea is threatened by its neighbor(s). The Belgium/Miami connection fails both those tests.

Nick Rowe said...

What Tim said.

False analogy.

Belgium doesn't have political and economic interests in preventing a Cuban invasion of Bermuda. Cuba has no interest in invading Cuba. Mexico doesn't have nuclear missiles and a desire to take over the Panama Canal.

We are in South Korea at their invitation and to our benefit. If it suited us and Belgium to have a base in Miami, we would do so. Most of our military aid to South Korea is precisely so that they can defend themselves. They use our tanks, our jets, and our rifles.

Besides, at current prices Belgium could buy Miami.

None of this should be construed as condoning current expenditures, strategy, and policy. None of this implies we can't or shouldn't reduce our foreign presence.

I happen to believe keeping 48 million South Koreans free from North Korean and Chinese oppression is worth every dollar we spent. I do believe the Domino Theory was real, and that many countries in Asia could have and would have fallen to communism.

Communism anywhere is a threat to liberty everywhere.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Guys, guys, guys, dear friends one and all.....

For starters, China is about as communist as Steve Jobs.

China is a big trading partner with the U.S. A military dust-up with them would harm them more than us.

And finally.....

Do you have any idea who we're borrowowing the money from to do this?

CenTexTim said...

Allen, old buddy old pal -

I don't want to beat this particular horse to death, but...

For the sake of argument, I'm willing to grant that the PRC may not be a textbook example of communism. But they do have a centrally controlled - very tightly controlled - economy, a repressive ruling party that allows few human rights or liberties, and what is IMO a carefully thought out and long term plan to extend their sphere of influence, regardless of any opposition or resistance. That makes me leery of them.

Also IMO, if they thought they could win a military confrontation with us, they would do so in a heartbeat regardless of any damage to their economy. Again, they think in terms of decades and centuries. Think of a corporation that decides to expand, foregoing short-term profits for long-term market share.

And yes, it is ironic that they are financing our continued presence in the Pacific Rim. But that puts us at risk as well. What happens if they decide to dump all those T-bills? They take a (short-term) hit, while we would have difficulty selling new ones. The interest rate we would have to pay would skyrocket, leading to domestic turmoil, recession, depression, TEOTWAWKI...

Bottom line - I don't trust them, I think they're a threat, and I think it's money well spent to take some reasonable precautions.