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Korea and American National Security

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Journal article

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Throughout the 20th century, U.S. policy with respect to Korea has lacked continuity and consistency. Prior to 1945, the United States was largely indifferent, acquiescing in the Japanese colonization of the peninsula. In 1945 we landed troops on Inchon, but by 1949 had determined Korea was a liability and withdrew our forces. In 1950 the U.S. Secretary of State declared that Korea was outside the American defense perimeter in the Pacific, yet five months later we entered the Korean War and spilled the blood of thousands of soldiers on Korean soil. In 1954 we concluded the US-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty to demonstrate our commitment to the Asian region, but in 1969 the Nixon Doctrine seemed to pull the rug out from under our 1954 treaty obligation. By 1976, under President Carter, we seriously flirted with the notion of pulling all of our ground forces out of Korea but by 1981 we reversed our strategy and actually increased our military force structure. Now in 1989 the United States is once again considering a withdrawal of military forces from the peninsula as a means to assist in balancing the federal budget. Current US strategy which emphasizes coalition warfare and deterrence through forward-deployed forces is sound. However, the United States cannot afford to be viewed as a lumbering giant frozen in the policies of the past. We need to take appropriate initiatives to relieve tensions in Korea while simultaneously maintaining our posture and influence in Asia. The United States cannot withdraw all US Army ground forces from Asia and expect to maintain significant influence in the area. US policy must be sufficiently adaptable to accommodate the dynamism of the region while signaling a strong commitment to the ideals of freedom and self-determination-ideals upon which our own nation was founded.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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