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U.S. Army War College >> Strategic Studies Institute >> Publications >> The Invitation to Struggle: Executive and Legislative Competition over the U.S. Military Presence on the Korean Peninsula >> Summary
Authored by Dr. William E. Berry Jr.. | May 1996
The primary focus of this monograph is the ongoing debate between the executive and legislative branches of government in the United States concerning the American military presence in the Republic of Korea. It begins by examining the debate surrounding the ratification of the Mutual Defense Treaty in 1953, and the Senate's decision to attach an "understanding" to that treaty. The Nixon and Carter administrations are particularly important because major efforts occurred in each to reduce the U.S. presence. In the case of the Nixon administration, the Congress was a major impetus to this reduction, whereas in the Carter administration, the Congress worked hard to impede Carter's troop withdrawal initiative. The reasons for this role reversal are very informative.
The suspected North Korean nuclear weapons program has added another dimension to this debate. Much of the current debate between the Clinton administration and the Congress concentrates on whether the U.S. counter- proliferation policy has been successful in reducing the North Korean threat rather than on whether the United States should continue to station military forces in South Korea. The 1995 Defense Department security strategy makes a compelling case for this military presence and appears to be generally accepted in the Congress. The conclusion is that unless or until the nuclear issue is resolved, the U.S. troop presence will not be as controversial as in previous times. Provided the South Koreans desire these forces to remain, the United States will keep them there, at least in the short term, because they contribute to the achievement of the new critical counterproliferation objectives, as well as their original deterrent purpose.