Korea: June 9, 2004

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The United States announcement that it will withdraw 12,000 of its 37,000 troops was not a complete surprise. American politicians have been demanding such withdrawals for the last two decades. The size of the American force, in comparison to the 650,000 South Korean troops, was never all that large. The American troops were there mainly as a guarantee that the U.S, would quickly send in reinforcements if North Korea ever attacked. But since the end of the Cold War in 1991, the military balance has shifted more in South Korea's favor. The North Korean economy, with Russian subsidies gone, and suffering from decades of mismanagement, collapsed. Meanwhile, the South Korean economy entered it's third decades of rapid growth and more of that wealth went into upgrading the armed forces. While North Korea had a million troops in service, their equipment, training and leadership was increasingly inferior to that in the south. While a vocal minority of South Koreans want American troops to leave, most South Koreans want them to stay, realizing that the United States is the only military ally that can really be depended on in an emergency.

 

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