Friday, January 10, 2003

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DREZNER GETS RESULTS ON SOUTH KOREA!!: The too-clever-by-half strategy of contemplating withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea appears to be having a salutory effect. As I said yesterday: "My guess is that a majority of South Koreans still want a U.S. presence, but aren't being vocal about it. Certainly having a public debate about the issue might lead to greater pro-U.S. mobilization."

From the New York Times' Seth Mydams:

"In Seoul, several moves were under way to repair ties with the United States. The relationship has been strained by widespread demonstrations calling for a more equal relationship with Washington.

On Thursday, South Korea's Defense Ministry warned in a monthly newsletter, Defense News, that the withdrawal of the 37,000 American troops here 'could send foreign investors flooding out of the country in fear of instability, throw the economy into turmoil and give North Korea a chance for provocation.' The newsletter added, 'North Korea tries to weaken the South Korea-U.S. alliance's capability of deterring war.'

Public opinion polls here indicate that 55 percent of South Koreans, most of them older people, want the American troops to stay. In an indication that South Korea's silent majority may be starting to stir, about 400 South Korean military veterans and housewives staged a pro-American rally on Wednesday, burning an image of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, clinging to a missile.

Separately, the office of President Kim Dae Jung issued a statement on Thursday implicitly asking South Koreans to tone down the weekly vigils outside the American Embassy here.

'We need to calm excessive worries of the international community about the anti-U.S. atmosphere,' the statement said.

Conservatives criticize the government for addressing symptoms of anti-Americanism without addressing an underlying cause: a deep erosion among young people in the belief that American troops are needed in South Korea.

'Now is the time to sincerely consider whether or not to continue the weekend candlelit protests and risk our national security and healthy relations with the U.S. at this crucial time,' The Korea Times, said on Thursday."

UPDATE: The international reaction also conforms to the hypothesis that a threat of withdrawal forces regional actors to stop buckpassing.

posted by Dan on 01.10.03 at 11:10 AM