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Ex-Pentagon Official: US Should Shift Focus from North Korea to China

Daniel Kim Views  

Elbridge Colby, former Under Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development. /Marathon Initiative homepage screenshot

Elbridge Colby, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development and a potential National Security Advisor should Donald Trump be re-elected, has argued that South Korea should take primary responsibility for handling North Korea. Meanwhile, he believes that U.S. forces stationed in South Korea should concentrate on deterring China.

In addition, Colby suggested that the focus of U.S. policy toward North Korea should shift from denuclearization to arms control, as he believes that the idea of complete denuclearization of North Korea seems “impossibly far-fetched.”

Colby made these comments in an interview at his think tank, the Marathon Initiative, in Washington, D.C., on the 6th.

In response to a question regarding Trump’s remarks in a Time interview concerning the possible withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea, Colby indicated that the U.S. should not continue to keep its troops on the Korean Peninsula to address an issue that predominantly involves North Korea rather than America itself. He further stressed that the primary roles of U.S. forces in Korea should center on deterring China and protecting South Korea against Chinese threats.

He stated, “South Korea should bear the primary, overwhelming responsibility for defending itself against North Korea” because “the U.S. does not have the military capability to fight both North Korea and China at the same time.”

Colby noted that since the primary role of U.S. forces stationed in South Korea is to defend the country, it is essential that South Korea contributes to the costs of maintaining U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula.

This is interpreted as South Korea should significantly increase its contribution to the cost of stationing U.S. forces in South Korea while taking the lead in deterring North Korea.

He argued that the operational plan to deploy large-scale U.S. forces to South Korea in the event of a North Korean invasion needs to be revised, as it would deplete our ability to respond to China.

When asked whether the goal of U.S. policy toward North Korea is complete denuclearization or merely denuclearization, Colby replied, “The goal of our policy toward North Korea should be focused on something similar to arms control, especially limiting the range of North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).”

He emphasized, “North Korea’s ability to strike the U.S. mainland on a large scale is changing the game because it undermines confidence in U.S. extended deterrence.”

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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