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Cold War Dinosaurs in Korea

n-korea-nuclearYesterday, the Boston Globe reported:

“The US military said Monday it had signed an agreement 2 ½ years in the making to support South Korea in countering North Korean provocations…. By putting the allies’ combined commitment on paper, the agreement will help serve as a deterrent against North Korean provocations.”

Well, isn’t that nice? Not even a consultation with Congress, the elected representatives of the American people, much less a congressional vote authorizing such an agreement to be entered into. It just goes to show the power of the military in American life. Heck, what do we even need Congress for, except, I suppose, to serve the Pentagon in a support capacity by providing it with whatever money it wants and also be ready to institute another draft of young American men and women should war break out in Korea.

One of the big problems here is that we’re dealing with Cold War dinosaurs whose mindsets are still stuck in the Cold War era. Don’t forget, after all, that these are the people who are still firmly committed to NATO, the entity that came into existence after World War II to protect Europe from the Soviet Union.

Let’s ask ourselves: What in the world are 27,000 U.S. troops doing in South Korea? They’re there because of a war that broke out between North Korea and South Korea in 1953 — 60 years ago, during the height of the Cold War!

Despite the fact that the war was a civil war between two sovereignties that had once composed one nation — Korea — the U.S. national-security state intervened in the conflict. Was there a congressional declaration of war, as the Constitution requires? Nope. Since President Truman called the Korean War a “police action,” one that would end up killing some 33,000 American soldiers and injuring some 92,000, Truman said that no congressional declaration of war was necessary.

Never mind that the Constitution didn’t authorize the U.S. government to serve as an international policeman. Also, never mind that Truman secured the permission of the United Nations Security Council to send American troops to their deaths in Korea.

How did U.S. officials justify the deaths and injuries of those American servicemen? Well, don’t forget that this was the era in which the U.S. national-security state hyped the fear of communism even more than it does the fear of terrorism today. The communists were coming to get us. They were in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. They were in Hollywood. They were in the Civil Rights movement. They were in the State Department. They were in the military. They were under everyone’s beds. They were everywhere, like zombies.

So, the Cold War argument went, if the South Korean domino fell to North Korea, it would cause the rest of the dominoes to start falling. The final domino would be the United States of America, where communists would take the reins of power and run the IRS, the Interstate Highway System, the public schools, and everything else.

It was, of course, the same argument that would be made with respect to the U.S. invasion of Vietnam several years later. If South Vietnam fell to the North Vietnamese communists, it would be just a matter of time before the United States fell to the communists. Of course, South Vietnam did fall to North Vietnam and yet the United States is still standing. In fact, the Pentagon is today doing everything it can to make nice with the Vietnamese communist regime, even requesting permission to construct a friendly U.S. military base in Vietnam.

After the Korean War was fought to a standstill, there was never a peace treaty signed, which means that actually there is still a state of war between the two countries. In 1953, the United States entered into a mutual defense treaty with South Korea, obligating the United States to come to South Korea’s assistance in the event that the war resumed. Perhaps that’s the reason the Pentagon doesn’t feel it needs congressional approval for that mutual defense agreement it recently signed with South Korea.

After 12 years of war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, the last thing the American people need is another war in Asia, especially given how indebted and broke the federal government is, thanks in large part to the Pentagon’s foreign wars. Yet, with its never-ending sanctions, military exercises, mutual defense agreements, and other provocations and taunts against North Korea, that’s precisely the direction that the Pentagon is leading our nation.

The time is long past to rescind the mutual defense treaty with South Korea. As we all know, the Cold War is over. It ended in 1989. Why should the United States continue to obligate itself to sacrifice American servicemen in what is purely a civil war between North Korea and South Korea? Why shouldn’t Korea be left to the Koreans?

It’s also long past time to bring all U.S. servicemen home from Korea. Those 27,000 servicemen are stationed there for one reason alone — to service as a sacrificial tripwire that will guarantee U.S. involvement in a war. That’s just a cleverly destructive and devious way to avoid a national debate in the United States over whether the United States should once again intervene in a war thousands of miles away from American shores.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.


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