Why Another Gift to Kim Jong-un If He Refuses to Budge?

      March 04, 2019 14:04

      South Korea and the U.S. have agreed to scrap two major joint military exercises that have been held each year to keep defenses sharp against a possible North Korean attack. The Key Resolve drill was held for two weeks each year, training U.S. and South Korean troops to defend the country and launch a counter-offensive against a North Korean attack. This year it will take just one week focusing only on defensive maneuvers. The Foal Eagle joint drills that have been held outdoors have been scaled down to involve small units only. Already last year, the Freedom Guardian joint drills that are usually held in August were halted, which effectively means that all major joint drills are finished.

      The U.S. and South Korea claim the allies will somehow maintain a firm defensive posture regardless, but that is absurd. No military can remain sharp without regular training. One former U.S. military commander once said that without such training it would be better to sever the alliance altogether. The Defense Ministry says small-scale joint exercises involving units smaller than battalions will continue, but no entire military can be kept ready if the occasional football team runs around shooting blanks at the trees.

      When U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly announced the halt of joint military exercises with South Korea during his first summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last year, he explained that the measure was aimed at encouraging Kim to make good on his denuclearization pledges. Even he must now have realized that the pledges had not been met, so surely he should be resuming large-scale wargames with South Korea. But no, he has scrapped them permanently.

      Speaking to reporters after the U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi collapsed, Trump warbled his usual tune, that they are "very, very expensive." As far as the president of the U.S. is concerned, that is all that matters. Trump has no head for figures but claimed that each joint military exercise costs American taxpayer around US$100 million. In fact the Key Resolve/Foal Eagle drills cost W20 billion and the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian drills about W15 billion (US$1=W1,125). In truth it seems Trump agreed to scrap the drills to take save a bit of face and take credit for North Korea refraining from missile and nuclear tests until the next U.S. presidential election. But North Korea has stopped testing nuclear weapons and missiles because their development is complete.

      Meanwhile the South Korean military reached an agreement with North Korea last September to stop flying drones, thereby relinquishing aerial surveillance capabilities, but claimed everything was okay due to its high-tech joint surveillance systems. Now the U.S. wants to stop holding joint exercises. If this country was governed by rational people, there would have been an outcry from the government here. But the Moon Jae-in administration welcomed the proposal with open arms. North Korea has no intention of denuclearizing and its nukes are pointed at South Korea. Who will protect us now?

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