The future of the U.S. - R.O.K. military relationship
Since the end of the Second World War the security of South Korea has been dependent on the actions of the United States, whose chief interest was to block communist expansion in the free world. Throughout the Cold War the U.S. was interested in defending South Korea from communist attack and by doing so to maintain stability in Northeast Asia. The close military relationship between the two countries was a direct result of this strategic consideration. With the end of the Cold War, the strategic and military commitments of the United States have changed and thanks to the economic downturn, the United States has tried to cut defense expenditure. Without an apparent enemy, the U.S. post-Cold War strategy now focuses on keeping a peaceful world, favorable to the United States by preventing regional conflicts and promoting human rights. As expected, the number of soldiers in forward bases throughout the world, including South Korea, has been reduced. But for North Korean nuclear development, the force withdrawal program declared by the Bush administration would have been executed as scheduled, forcing South Korea to take a leading role in defending the country by the end of this century. A conventional war in the Korean Peninsula will not seriously affect the strategic interests of the United States in Asia as long as the security of Japan is not threatened. The South Korean military might be able to stall the invasion of North Korea for some time until the international community responded. The United States no longer needs to sacrifice American lives by being directly involved in a military conflict in Korea. If this was the case, the scene would be more clear in which South Korea will be forced to take a leading role and allow the majority of U.S. forces in Korea to leave.