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US Can't Continue Offering Flimsy Security Guarantees to Half the Planet

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Last week's alleged North Korean test of a hydrogen bomb begs the question about just how ready the US really is to risk war with nuclear-armed opponents for the sake of an archaic Cold War-era security doctrine, veteran political commentator Pat Buchanan suggests.

Commenting on the North Korean move in his column for The American Conservative, Buchanan noted that Pyongyang's nuclear tests are perhaps even more of a danger to North Korea's northern neighbor, China, than they are a threat to its traditional foe, South Korea.

"If Pyongyang continues building and testing nuclear bombs," the analyst explained, "Beijing is going to wake up one day and find that its neighbors, South Korea and Japan, have also acquired nuclear weapons as deterrents to North Korea. And should Japan and South Korea do so, Taiwan, Vietnam and [the Philippines]," each of which has its own conflict with Beijing, "may also be in the market for nukes."

As far as the test's implications for America's security are concerned, Buchanan suggested that the US can only stand to benefit by "tak[ing] a hard look at our own war guarantees to Asia," which date back to the Cold War era.

"At the end of the Korean War in July 1953, South Korea was devastated, unable to defend herself without the US Navy and Air Force and scores of thousands of US troops. So, American negotiated a mutual security treaty."

"But today," the analyst noted, "South Korea has 50 million people, twice that of the North; the world's 13th largest economy, 40 times the size of North Korea's; and access to the most modern US weapons. In 2015, Seoul ran a trade surplus of almost $30 billion with the United States, a sum almost equal to North Korea's entire GDP."

"Why, then, are 25,000 US troops still in South Korea?" Buchanan asks. "Why are they in the DMZ, ensuring that Americans are among the first to die in any Second Korean War?"

Given the close proximity of the North Korean army, "with its thousands of missiles and artillery pieces, only 35 miles from Seoul, any invasion would have to be met almost immediately with US-fired atomic weapons. But with North Korea possessing a nuclear arsenal estimated at eight to 12 weapons and growing, a question arises: Why should the US engage in a nuclear exchange with North Korea, over South Korea?"

"Why should a treaty that dates back 60 years commit us, in perpetuity, to back South Korea in a war from the first shot with Pyongyang, when that war could swiftly escalate to nuclear? How does this comport with US national interests?" 

In the case of North Korea and elsewhere around the globe, Washington, Buchanan argues, should "reconsider strategic commitments that date back to the 1950s." 

"President Nixon, ahead of his time, understood this. As he began the drawdown of US forces in Vietnam in 1969, he declared in Guam that while America would meet her treaty obligations, henceforth, Asian nations should provide the ground troops to defend themselves."

Today, Buchanan notes, "now that we have entered a post-post-Cold War era, where many Asian nations possess the actual or potential military power to defend themselves, something like a new Nixon Doctrine is worth considering."

As far as the territorial disputes between China and its neighbors in the East and South China Seas are concerned, Buchanan notes, "in none of these quarrels and conflicts does there seem to be any vital US national interest so imperiled that we should risk a clash with a nuclear power like Beijing."

With the Second World War and the Cold War now nothing but a historical memory, "is it not time for an exhaustive review of the alliances we have entered into and the war guarantees we have issued, to fight for nations and interests other than our own?"

This, Buchanan notes, includes the NATO alliance. "One understood the necessity to defend West Germany and keep the Red Army on the other side of the Elbe, but when did Estonia's independence become so critical to US security that we would fight a nuclear-armed Russia rather than lose it?"

"Indeed, how many of the dozens of US war guarantees we have outstanding would we honor by going to war if they were called?" the analyst asks.

A veteran political commentator, columnist, and writer, Pat Buchanan is also the former White House Communications Director for the Reagan Administration, and a former Republican Party presidential candidate.

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Tags:
NATO, security guarantees, analysis, Patrick Buchanan, North Korea, China, Europe, South Korea, United States, Russia, Asia
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  • Mother Gorillain reply tomichael(Show commentHide comment)
    michael, Greenpeace predicts up to 100,000 cancer deaths that will be attributable to Chernobyl.
  • Mother Gorillain reply toBlackie (Show commentHide comment)
    Africa, yes, and if the gorrilla lived in a radioactive area, he would be radioactive as are the wolves around Chernobyl who also carry genetic defects and the plants might still be glowing from radioactivity. Horrible, isn't it?
  • Blackie in reply toMother Gorilla(Show commentHide comment)
    Miss Germany,
    People have no judgement no morals.
    It must change.
  • michaelin reply toMother Gorilla(Show commentHide comment)
    Miss Germany, is that total?
  • Ann
    "At the end of the Korean War in July 1953, South Korea was devastated, unable to defend herself without the US Navy and Air Force and scores of thousands of US troops. So, American negotiated a mutual security treaty."

    AND THERE IT IS, THE HOOK. That's exactly what the U.S. has done to as many smaller countries as it could. I would only argue one thing - what makes Mr. Buchanon so sure it's South Korea that is in the cross hairs of Kim Jung-Un? It's the USA. THEY'VE WATCHED AS AMERICA HAS DEVASTATED THE MIDDLE EAST AND UKRAINE WITH REGIME CHANGES AND BOMBS. They simply don't want to sit and wait for their turn.

    This is the same BS as NATO saying their expansion threatens no one, and Russia is outrageous for even considering them a threat to their national security.

    As for Nixon, his draw down p!ssed off the neocon warmongers so much, that they got rid of him at their first opportunity, and the next puppet finished their plans. Nixon wasn't any more of a crook than hillary or obama or bush...he just p!ssed off the neocons.

    "when did Estonia's independence become so critical to US security that we would fight a nuclear-armed Russia rather than lose it?" - AMEN TO THAT, PAT.
  • Ann in reply toBlackie (Show commentHide comment)
    Africa, It's not worth instigating a nuclear war to find out, is it?
  • Ann in reply toallperils(Show commentHide comment)
    allperils, That's the key to all of this, isn't it? Bomb a country into submission, take over their govt, build embassies (secret CIA bases) and military bases and pledge to throw some money their way to rebuild and ---

    CONGRATULATIONS! YOU'VE JUST TAKEN OVER A WHOLE COUNTRY AND YOU NOW OWN/CONTROL EVERYTHING/EVERYONE IN IT.

    Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
  • Blackie in reply toAnn (Show commentHide comment)
    sixpack6t9,
    Tue.
    when Gadafi was getteing attacked by US killers and mercs he phoned Blair telling him "they are attacking us"
    Japan had surrendered but still got bombed byNWO.
  • Blackie
    sixpack6t9,
    Hi
    Yeah evil eh?
  • Ann in reply toBlackie (Show commentHide comment)
    Africa, Speaking of evil, I just couldn't get some thoughts I'm having out of my head last night.

    The Saudis just executed 45 people by lopping their heads off. The Saudis are also bombing Yemeni women and children in hospitals and schools as we speak. The Saudis are openly supplying and funding IS.

    The UN has put the Saudis in charge of their Human Rights Committee.

    IN WHAT UNIVERSE IS THIS APPROPRIATE??

    In what universe is it acceptable to put a country that does not recognize human rights, in charge of overseeing them? Someone please help me out on this one.
  • Mother Gorillain reply tomichael(Show commentHide comment)
    michael, yes, that is Greenpeace's total estimate as of 2014, but who knows what other long-term effects will show later. It is high enough, isn't it? Just think if such an accident occurred not in Ukraine: population density ca. 80 per square km, but in densely population Western Europe: 370 people per square km!
  • Mother Gorillain reply toAnn (Show commentHide comment)
    sixpack6t9, it is like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank!
  • michaelin reply toMother Gorilla(Show commentHide comment)
    Miss Germany, agreed, yet another situation for concern or...an opportunity to act on.:)
  • Blackie in reply toAnn (Show commentHide comment)
    sixpack6t9,
    Beautifully put, and laterI will ask why the US or Russia did not go in an take over the Saudi oil fields?:
    Strange times indeed LBGT Heaven on a collision course with 6Century Lunatics .
  • Blackie in reply toMother Gorilla(Show commentHide comment)
    Miss Germany,
    Hi Miss,
    He would not be as bad.
  • Western leaders are hypocritical at best when the cry wolf about established countries acquiring nuclear technology. The West has tried for years to isolate and damage NK, that is the reason NK developed these weapons. The mere possession makes any calculation against the North much more uncertain and that is what frightens the West, not that NK would use them without provocation. NK's leaders are neither stupid or crazy and I don't fear that NK would use them without provocation. So let us not provoke them!
  • Mother Gorillain reply toBlackie (Show commentHide comment)
    Africa, do you mean Mohammed, the Prophet (indeed born 570 A.D., I checked)? Because while he was not a very peaceful character, fighting for the spread of Islam and against infidels in his own ranks, he was a rather purposeful soldier, don't you think?
  • Ann in reply toBlackie (Show commentHide comment)
    Mystic Woods, "LBGT Heaven on a collision course with 6Century Lunatics"

    AND IT AIN'T GONNA BE PRETTY.
  • Blackie in reply toAnn (Show commentHide comment)
    sixpack6t9,
    Hi,
    My worst fear was that you may have thought I was supporting them. No I am against both.
    I stole that line from a writer friend who was taking the Micky!
  • Blackie in reply toAnn (Show commentHide comment)
    sixpack6t9,
    Hi again,
    You and I both know who is behind this, read The truthseeker site.
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