[FOUNTAIN]Counterfactual reasoning on troop movesIf the United States had been a socialist country and the Soviet Union a capitalist one at the end of World War II, would the Cold War have existed? Such a question is counterfactual reasoning used to explore whether the cause of the Cold War was ideological confrontation or the international bipolar system.
Given that wars were fought between China and the Soviet Union, and Vietnam and China, over territorial disputes, we could conclude that conflicts and wars between nations are not necessarily correlated to ideology.
Therefore, even if the United States were a socialist state, it is reasonable to assume that the tension and discord might have been unavoidable, and we can suppose that the Cold War was not only about ideology, but was also influenced by the international power balance and dynamics.
Since Washington recently decided to pull some troops of the 2d Infantry Division from Korea to be transferred to Iraq, we are increasingly hearing expressions of concern. Some see it as the beginning of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Korea and stress security concerns. Others claim that it is a result of the Roh administration’s anti-American inclination. The critics’ claims are based on their own versions of assumptions. If it weren’t for the Roh administration, there would not have been anti-American sentiment and the Korea-U.S. alliance would have been cozier. If Korea promptly sent troops to Iraq, U.S. forces in Korea would not be transferred.
But these assumptions lack validity, since in the 1970s Washington had pulled the 7th Infantry Division and three Air Force squadrons from Korea even though Korea had sent troops to Vietnam to help the U.S. war effort there.
Korea and the United States are allies. But despite the alliance, there are differences and frictions depending on each country’s national interest and strategy. The effect of the alliance is not limited to the military aspect.
Now that the U.S. global strategy has changed, it would be narrow-minded to be obsessed with the number of troops present in the country instead of thinking of the military effect of the Korea-U.S. alliance as the reinforcement of the war potential and improvement of the joint military capacity and deterrence of the North Korean threat.
by Kim Seok-hwan
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.