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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
    IntroducedJuly 26th, 2018

What is it?

This bill — known as the Maintaining Commitment on the Korean Peninsula Act — would direct the Director of National Intelligence to submit a report to Congress on the anticipated impact of altering America’s military posture on the Korean peninsula. The report would include information on the views of Japan, South Korea, and regional allies’ and partners’ governments regarding the significant reduction or complete withdrawal of U.S. forces, or the permanent suspension of exercises.

It would also include assessments of the impact that a significant reduction or complete withdrawal of U.S. forces of permanent suspension of exercises would have on:

  • The transition of operation control of U.S. forces on the Korean peninsula;

  • Countering non-North Korean actors in northeast Asia, including in the areas of economics, diplomacy, and defense;

  • The long-term East Asian security architecture implications; and

  • The implications for U.S. and allied capabilities to deter and defeat North Korean aggression in cyber, conventional, chemical, and biological warfare.

Impact

U.S. troops on the Korean peninsula; Congress; South Korea; North Korea; and the Director of National Intelligence.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) introduced this bill to evaluate the possibility of U.S. force reduction on the Korean peninsula.

Jeff Faux, founder of and now a distinguished fellow at the Economic Policy Institute, argues that it’s time for the U.S. to withdraw from the Korean Peninsula:

“We claim that we are there to defend South Korea. But a nuclear attack on the South makes no sense. Seoul and Pyongyang are only a two-hour drive apart. Nuclear war anywhere in Korea would contaminate the whole peninsula… One clue as to why our troops are still garrisoned in South Korea lies in the panic that spread through the US foreign-policy establishment when South and North Korea recently began their own bilateral talks and agreed to march into the 2018 Olympics under one flag. Instead of seeing this as a positive step toward peace, American leaders—Democrats as well as Republicans—were alarmed that it was driving a ‘wedge’ between the United States and South Korea. By putting pressure on Washington to negotiate, reported the Times, ‘the breach between South Korea and the United States could become a chasm.’ Thus, from Washington’s perspective, avoiding nuclear war is less a priority than maintaining its influence in that part of the world… So far the narrative of fear has stopped an honest political debate that would expose these ‘vital American interests’ for what they are.”

Doug Bandow, a foreign affairs analyst who worked in the Reagan White House, argues that South Korea is now strong enough to defend itself, and the U.S. no longer needs to be present in the Korean Peninsula to protect it:

“[The U.S. presence is] no longer necessary… [T]oday, South Korea has something around 45 times the GDP [and] about twice the population of the North, so there's no reason why the South cannot build a military sufficient to deter and somehow defeat, if necessary, the North."

Within South Korea, a fringe minority of peace activists has called for the removal of U.S. troops for decades, calling them an affront to South Korea’s sovereignty and an obstacle to peace. This opinion is largely in line with North Korea’s consistent position in calling for U.S. troops’ removal. South Korea’s Minjung Party, a left-leaning party with a single seat in the 300-seat National Assembly, backs immediate withdrawal. The party’s spokesman, Shin Chang-hyeon, says:

“The leaders of North and South have declared an era of peace. The raison d’être of the U.S. troops here has disappeared. We have an issue with any foreign military staying in South Korea.”

Victor Cha, who was an Asian affairs adviser to President George W. Bush, contends that the U.S.’ presence in the Korean Peninsula is an important commitment:

“Whether we like it or not, since the end of World War II, the United States has been a Pacific power in Asia that has maintained its credibility and its commitments to governments in the region by our troop presence there… [T]hat has been the nature of the U.S. commitment to show that we will be there to protect sea lanes to prevent the rise of another hegemon in the region, and that has stabilized not just the politics of the region but also the markets."

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis concurs with this view, telling a group of lawmakers that the U.S.’ presence in the Korean Peninsula is “a stabilizing presence” that “resonates among allies.”

Generally, South Korean leadership supports continued U.S. presence on the Korean peninsula. Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for the presidential Blue House, citing President Moon Jae-in, calls U.S. troops stationed in South Korea “an issue regarding the alliance between South Korea and the United States.” Seoul has also expressed that it wants U.S. troops to stay because they play the role of a mediator in military confrontations between neighboring superpowers like China and Japan.


Of Note: President Jimmy Carter raised the idea of removing U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula in the 1970s, partly as a way to save money. His advisers strongly opposed the idea.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / ByoungJoo)

AKA

Maintaining Commitment on the Korean Peninsula Act

Official Title

To direct the Director of National Intelligence to submit to Congress a report on the anticipated impact of altering the United States Force posture on the Korean peninsula.

    Get our troops the hell out of foreign countries. We have no business there. America’s presence in the North Korean peninsula an expensive relic of a time when South Korea was too weak to defend itself against North Korean aggression. Times have changed, and it’s sensible to evaluate whether the U.S. should reduce or even eliminate its presence on the Korean Peninsula.
    Like (52)
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    It’s too soon to have this conversation.
    Like (60)
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    Not while China is building mini bases on islands they created in the South China Sea. When it comes to assessing the need, I think I’ll go with that of SOD Mattis. Defense is NOT an area where we need to cut spending. We must maintain our global presence. It is the ONLY thing that has kept the balance of power against evil regimes.
    Like (54)
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    “Too soon”? US troops have been in SK for more than 60 years and it’s “too soon” to even LOOK AT OPTIONS??? Don’t be stupid. We can investigate the options. That all this is asking. To look at the options.
    Like (34)
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    The United States Military is all that stands in the way of totalitarian communist nations like China from bullying our smaller less powerful allies.
    Like (25)
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    I will almost always support a reduction in our presence around the world in an effort to promote peace.
    Like (21)
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    Too soon.
    Like (21)
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    We are not talking about total recall of our troops. As a matter of fact, we should consider troop reduction worldwide.
    Like (20)
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    I don’t believe it would be good for their economy or ours.
    Like (20)
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    The risk here is that financial considerations will dominate such a review and other considerations will be overlooked or ruled out as having any importance. North Korea cannot be trusted, nor can China or Russia. We need to continue our military presence in South Korea.
    Like (16)
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    Not for a while. North Korea has to build trust.
    Like (14)
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    It’s a little too early to be thinking about removing military personnel from the Korean Peninsula. They may be making progress but I still don’t trust North Korea’s leadership.
    Like (11)
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    Stop kowtowing to the world’s dictator thugs.
    Like (9)
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    Only a complete uneducated person would think of something like this. We need to increase and maintain our military presence in the Pacific. China is building small strategic islands through out the Pacific Ocean. If you think standing on our west coast to pass out flowers as they arrive to welcome them, you really must live in a vacuum tube.
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    Too soon
    Like (7)
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    What balloon head at Countable thought up this question? Seriously? Some Dope thinks we should leave Korea? I’m a Vet and have known many that have served there! You don’t have a clue you idiot!
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    Having completed three tour of military service in South Korea, I feel confident we could reduce our troop levels by one brigade over a period of several years in order to give the South Korean government the time to increase their troop strength.
    Like (6)
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    Although we should evaluate our placement of our troops at least annually, that area of the world is evolving and is the center of potential troubles. So we need to have our troops there. This is not for what they do now but it’s for what they can prevent.
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    Yes, though I think US presence should be removed gradually over time, and let South Korea build its own defense.
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    Roll back the empire. It can't be sustained. Withdraw from ALL overseas positions and be a DEFENSE force. The land you're supposedly defending and all its freedoms are back over here - what are you doing all the way over there?
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