Thursday, January 02, 2003
On a totally separate tack, John Derbyshire has some red-blooded musings in his diary about the situation in Korea. He wonders: (a) why we are there defending South Korea when they can defend themselves; (b) given that fact, why we don't just do what we need to to take out the North's nukes and let the chips fall where they may across the DMZ; (c) whether the unspoken subtext of this whole situation is the fact that the South doesn't really want reunification with the North any more than they want the North's collapse because both would mean a flood of poor North Koreans over the border into the South to wreck their standard of living.
Well, he's a 100% right about (c). We saw what absorbing the Ossies did to the West German economic miracle. Korea would be much, much worse. No one knows what to do about the regime; neither China nor South Korea wants a war, but neither wants North Korea to collapse either.
Fortunately, there is a solution to everyone's problems: give South Korea to the Chinese. The Chinese would be very, very happy, thank-you very much, to have a valuable new ally and to get rid of all those nasty American troops. North Korea would be very, very happy to keep their population from flooding southward in exchange for a steady flow of South Korean cash. And would South Korea be upset? Well, it's hard to say. Right now, the 50% of the population that votes right-wing would be very unhappy. But the 50% of the population that votes for folks like Roh? I don't know what they would think about being part of China's Greater East-Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. Might be better than being running-dogs of Yankee imperialism.
On the other hand, this solution would be a disaster for the United States. And that's the primary answer to Derbyshire's point (b): we can't just "take care" of North Korea, even if doing so was acceptable to other allies like Japan and Britain, because we would lose South Korea as an ally; they would defect to China. We can't, as a practical matter, be more zealous in defense of South Korea than the South Koreans are. And their willingness to "play ball" with the North really amounts to a willingness to consider switching sides between the U.S. and China.