The military intervention against communist aggression in the Korean War was not the action of the United States. The United Nations Security Council determined that this was a self-defense action by the Republic of Korean, and so authorized military force to resist that aggression. This was only possible because the Soviet Union at the time was boycotting the United Nations in protest against the UN's insistence on recognizing the government of the Republic of China, instead of the People’s Republic of China (Communist China, which murdered over 70 million people and which, at the time, was beginning its horrific genocide of the Tibetan people, a crime known to anyone who followed world events, but protested only by “crazy” anti-communists like Dr Schwarz's Christian Anti-Communism Crusade.)
The United States didn't single-handedly instigate the war with North Korea, but we could single-handedly stop war-making activities against them. In the six decades since the Korean War began, North Korea, a place of ongoing repression, torture, slave labor, and similar crimes endemic in communist regimes — which in 1939 was the industrialized, resource-rich half of the Korean peninsula — has spent every nickel not needed to supply Kim Jong Il, the “Dear Leader,” with the finest scotch whiskey, expensive cars, and every variety of pornography and prostitution his perverted appetite can lust to build up its military. While ordinary families lived on subsistence diets, or slowly starved, the military was given enough food to make it a muscular Praetorian Guard and perks to keep it loyal.
In South Korea, on the other hand, the economy boomed. The poorer half of the peninsula became the richer half of the peninsula. Depending upon whose statistics one uses, the nation has a per capita GDP of about $20K a year, far higher than the vast majority of countries in Asia and Africa. The same surveys place the per capita GDP of the “People’s Democratic Republic of Korea” at about $1,200 per year or only eight percent of what South Korean’s GDP per capita is today.
What is the total GDP of South Korea and of North Korea? According to any of the major international rating services, South Korea is one of the largest economies in the world. If the European Union is not considered a “country,” then South Korea is the 11th or 12th largest economy in the world, larger than Canada, Australia, or the Republic of China.
The CIA Factbook (which is roughly in synch with the IMF and the World Bank in rating national economies) puts the Republic of Korea at a GDP $1,459 billion, while North Korea has a total GDP of $40 billion. In other words, the economy of South Korea is 36 times greater than the economy of North Korea. If South Korea wished, it could outspend North Korea militarily even if North Korea spent its entire economy on the military.
The South Koreans dislike America and when Captain America played in South Korean theaters, it had to be played as Captain Avenger. Why do we still need military bases and tripwire troops in South Korea? We do not need to apologize for fighting communism in Korea, nor do we need to spend huge amounts of money and risk our boys’ lives to defend a nation of animosity-filled people who are fully capable of defending themselves. Why don’t we gently suggest to the South Koreans that they adopt the model of Switzerland (or, although its politics are less agreeable, of Sweden)? These nations rely upon self-defense and they mind their own business.
North Korea wants the resurrection of “Six Power Talks.” America is on the other side of the Pacific from the two Koreas, China, Russia, and Japan. Why do we not simply announce that all future talks need to be “Five Power Talks,” excluding the United States? Whose security is threatened by the economic midget North Korea? North Korea's nuclear weapons may threaten South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia, but the threat to America is minimal — even the scariest estimates are that North Korean delivery system might hit Hawaii. Those nations could either apply great pressure to the Dear Leader and his pending successors, or those nations could cobble together an “aid package” to uphold the Dear Leader's ability to bribe the military to keep him in power.
These nations, after all, are responsible for North Korea. When Korea was called "Chosen," the brutalized imperial colony of Japan, the Japanese exploited it for natural resources, slave labor, even “comfort women.” Russia, under Stalin, supplied and encouraged Kim Il Sung and Soviet MIG pilots in crass violation of its nominal duty to support the United Nations. Mao sent hordes of “Chinese Volunteers” over the Yalu River extending the war and the crisis.
Beyond that, the rationale given by North Korea for seeking nuclear weapons and delivery systems is because the United States still has 28,500 troops in South Korea.
More than enough American blood and treasure and diplomatic influence has been wasted defending South Koreans too ungrateful to thank us, too unwilling to meet the Lilliputian enemy to their north, and too happy to let us do all the heavy lifting.
Photo of Kim Jong Il: AP Images