The Frustrating Thing About the Korean Crisis
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find it immensely frustrating that a week or so after being kicked in the teeth by the South Koreans on a trade deal, we’re now on the cusp of being drawn into spending billions of dollars and risking American lives to save their asses from their crazy cousins. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the geopolitical importance of quashing the North Koreans — it’s critical, and we really have no choice but to man the DMZ. But if the US is going to occupy the role or imperial protector, we should certainly extract a reasonable price from the client-states which depend upon us.
I may be missing something…maybe there is a very large bill presented every year to the Korean government for the 50k American troops who have been there since the 1940’s. But I kind of think we would have heard something about it were that the case.
In my mind, this is directly related to the weakness of our government…to its inability to accomplish the basics of governance. If they’re going to be the stewards of American resources (particularly military ones), they sure as hell should make sure that we come out at least somewhere near even. But the fact that Obama was humiliated at the G20 suggests pretty strongly that there’s nobody minding the store in that regard. It’s hard for me to imagine that someone, at some point during the talks, couldn’t easily have mentioned that the US, being in a major recession and tearing itself apart politically over budget deficits, might have to consider halving the troops stationed in South Korea if we couldn’t at least earn some of that money back through an appropriate balance of trade. Or that they should just pay us at cost +10% for providing human shields against the million+ soldiers of the DPRK…that would have the same effect (because they’d have to earn US dollars with which to pay the bill).
Don’t get me wrong — I’m all for the US playing an appropriate buffering role in critical geopolitical hotspots. We’re the only ones who can do it, and it’s certainly in our self-interest to promote stability. But there’s nothing at all inconsistent in expecting to be paid for that service by its primary beneficiaries. Or, at least insist on not getting kicked in the balls by them.