WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld indicated Thursday that he wants U.S. troops stationed near the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea to be moved farther from the heavily defended zone, shifted to other countries in the region or brought home. The South Korean military, which has relied on American forces to deter an attack from communist North Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953, is capable of defending the border itself, Rumsfeld said. […] The U.S. military, on the other hand, could play more of a secondary role by arranging its forces at an “air hub” and “sea hub” and as reinforcements for the South Korean front-line troops, he said during a question-and-answer session with a group of Pentagon civilians and troops.

This is a brilliant diplomatic move for three reasons:

  1. It implicitly calls North Korea’s bluff. Right when Kim Il Jung is trying to act so tough, Rumsfeld counters by saying that South Korea doesn’t even need the US.
  2. South Korea’s new government is fairly anti-American and unhappy with the US presence, so Rumsfeld is forcing them to take responsibility for their defense–to call there bluff, if it is indeed a bluff.
  3. We need to get out of the business of protecting other countries, especially those who are unfriendly to the U.S.

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