Asia
Op-Ed

Why America Needs to Conclude Alliance Cost Talks With South Korea Now

Can Washington get its priorities straight?

Examining the reasons cost sharing negotiations between the U.S. and South Korea have stalled

Part of the Congressional Fellowship Project  and the 38North.org Project .
38 North
By Clint Work Author

Originally published in the National Interest.

In an April 6 tweet, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper wrote that he appreciated South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo taking his call to discuss “the importance of equitable burned sharing across the alliance.” After all, he noted, “It is critical that we get a fair, balanced, and comprehensive agreement signed quickly.” Esper closed with the hashtag #KatchiKapshida, a romanization of the Korean phrase, “Let’s go Together.” It’s a catch phrase common among U.S.-ROK alliance managers and, under current circumstances, pure banality.

At the moment, the allies are neither together nor is it clear where they are going. Despite COVID-19, North Korea continues to build up its conventional—and we have to assume WMD—programs as well. This is why finding a resolution to the cost-sharing issue and restoring confidence in the alliance should not be put on a back burner. It should be prioritized. 

Read the full op-ed in The National Interest.

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