December 5, 2009

THE ONGOING COST OF NOT CHANGING THE ENEMY REGIME:

Seoul has own fears over US surge (Donald Kirk, 12/05/09, Asia Times)

Neither the Americans in Korea nor Koreans in positions of power and influence quite believed the assurance from the Pentagon, made to top officials of South Korea's Defense Ministry before Obama's speech, that the US would not be sending troops from Korea to Afghanistan. They had heard that one several years ago, before the US deployed a brigade of the US Second Infantry Division to Iraq from the historic invasion route to Seoul, reducing US troop strength in the South to about 37,000.

Obama's remarks resonated in other ways too. Could he really be serious when he said the US would be withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan in a year and a half? He took care to argue that Afghanistan was not like Vietnam, where the US-backed South Vietnamese government fell to defeat two years after the Americans had pulled out. He did not, however, allude to Korea, where US troops have been guarding the South since the signing of the Korean War armistice in July 1953 ended the bloodiest conflict in northeast Asian history.

The future of the US in Afghanistan appears if anything as clouded as it ever was, and still is, in Korea. The two cabinet secretaries who should know the answers, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, both waffled when members of a US congressional committee asked them how firm was that 18-month commitment. Talk about "review" and "circumstances" permeated their vague responses.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at December 5, 2009 6:09 AM
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