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The U.S.-South Korea Alliance Should Be Reformed

Lyle J. Goldstein

Security, Asia

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he welcomes South Korea's President Moon Jae-In in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Troop reductions could occur in three to four stages to complement stages of North Korea’s CVID nuclear disarmament.

For much of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment, there is no more sacred word than “alliances.” They are regarded as a continuing symbol of all that is good about U.S. foreign policy—a testament to the success and strength of American values. These friendly countries stand as a key validation of American self-identity. Logically enough, they are also nice places to visit (with many charming locals who fittingly speak excellent English). It's surely better to be sipping cappuccinos in Berlin, Sydney, Oslo or Tokyo than to be struggling to get a trustworthy translator, let alone a safe and decent meal in Lagos, Muscat, Baku or Xiamen. Allies have the delightful virtue of telling America over and over again how great and “indispensable” the U.S. is. No wonder then that American diplomats frequently sound like they are representatives of allied countries when they recoil at the straightforward concept of putting “America first.” This sentiment pervades Andrew Taffer's recent rejoinder that argues that America had better not consider any serious tweaks to the U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) Alliance, lest they and other allies have some doubts about American staying power in the Pacific.

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