But beyond the immediate fear of a military provocation, analysts say deeper anxieties are also at work in the South. One of the biggest is the creeping resurgence of old fears about the reliability of this nation’s longtime protector, the United States. Experts say the talk of South Korea’s acquiring nuclear weapons is an oblique way to voice the concerns of a small but growing number of South Koreans that the United States, either because of budget cuts or a lack of will, may one day no longer act as the South’s ultimate insurance policy.
People ask how this squares with the potential new ROK Defense Minister being "anxious" about the "OPCON Transfer" with the perception that the ROK cannot stand on its own two feet by taking over OPCON.
As I have said this is not about OPCON transfer. This should be about the Alliance and what is best for the Alliance. We have a continuous pattern of reducing our commitment to the ROK since Carter attempted to withdraw troops in 1978 (gradually reducing 2dID forces, disbanding the Combined Field Army, withdrawing tactical nuclear weapons, cancelling Team Spirit, withdrawing US forces from DMZ patrols, removing an entire ground combat brigade at once to go to Iraq never to return, removing all US combat forces from the Western Corridor or Kaesong-Munsan approach, to name a few examples). All these actions made logical sense (to some) at the time of the decision but taken as a whole there is the perception of a continuous reduction of the US commitment. That is the perception of some in the ROK and of course it is the north's perception as well because one of the key conditions they have sought for 6 decades is splitting the Alliance and the dissolution of the ROK/US CFC will be their biggest achievement yet. But if we were really serious about letting the "ROK's stand on their own two feet" why do we force them to pay the bulk of the costs for moving US forces instead of them being able to invest all the those funds in independent War fighting capabilities?
Although some in the ROK have questioned whether US really is committed to extended deterrence and we should keep in mind there are some voices in the US who question whether we should have any forces there or maintain the Alliance at all.
But for me I want this question objectively answered: what is the best way for the Alliance to organize its military instruments of power from a military, political, and economic or financial perspective? From all those who favor the dissolution of CFC and the red herring and mythical OPCON transfer I would like to see their objective analysis as to how that course of action is best from a military, political, and economic perspective for both members of the Alliance. Show me the real objective analysis that says it is the most feasible, suitable, and acceptable COA to dissolve the ROK/US CFC while faced with a very real threat from the north.
March 10, 2013
As North Korea Blusters, South Flirts With Talk of Nuclear Arms
SEOUL, South Korea — As their country prospered, South Koreans have largely shrugged off the constant threat of a North Korean attack. But breakthroughs in the North’s missile and nuclear programs and fiery threats of war have heightened fears in the South that even small miscalculations by the new and untested leaders of each country could have disastrous consequences.
Now this new sense of vulnerability is causing some influential South Koreans to break a decades-old taboo by openly calling for the South to develop its own nuclear arsenal, a move that would raise the stakes in what is already one of the world’s most militarized regions.
While few here think this will happen anytime soon, two recent opinion polls show that two-thirds of South Koreans support the idea posed by a small but growing number of politicians and columnists — a reflection, analysts say, of hardening attitudes since North Korea’s Feb. 12 underground nuclear test, its third since 2006.
“The third nuclear test was for South Korea what the Cuban missile crisis was for the U.S.,” said Han Yong-sup, a professor of security policy at the Korea National Defense University in Seoul. “It has made the North Korean threat seem very close and very real.”
In recent weeks, the North has approached a crucial threshold with its weapons programs, with the successful launching of a long-range rocket, followed by the test detonation of a nuclear device that could be small enough to fit on top of a rocket. Those advances were followed by a barrage of apocalyptic threats to rain “pre-emptive nuclear strikes” and “final destruction” on Seoul, the South’s neon-drenched capital. The intensification of North Korea’s typically bellicose language shocked many South Koreans, who had thought the main target of the North’s nuclear program was the United States.
Adding to South Koreans’ worries, the North and its nuclear arsenal are in the hands of a young new leader, Kim Jong-un, whose brinkmanship appears to be an effort to ensure the support of his nation’s powerful military.
The South also has a new president, Park Geun-hye, the daughter of a military strongman who stood firm against North Korea, who herself also faces pressure to stand fast against the North. Just two weeks after her inauguration, Ms. Park faces a crisis as the North makes vague threats interpreted by many South Koreans as the precursor to some sort of limited, conventional military provocation. Ms. Park has promised to retaliate if her nation is attacked, aware of the public anger directed at her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, when he showed restraint after the North shelled a South Korean island in 2010, killing four people.
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