The cost of free-riding

Source: The American Conservative
by Ted Galen Carpenter

“South Korea has long been a notorious free-rider on U.S. security efforts. Although the country has an economy by most estimates 40 times larger than North Korea’s, Seoul persists in underinvesting in its own security. … Beyond the obvious financial benefits in having another country subsidize Korea’s defense, it is diplomatically and psychologically reassuring to have a superpower as a protector. But there is also a major downside to such dependence. The principal drawback is that crucial decisions about national security are not in the hands of the protectorate’s political leadership. In the case of the U.S.-South Korean alliance, Washington has always dominated the decision-making process. That should be especially worrisome to Korean leaders and the public when, as in the current environment, a military crisis surfaces.” (04/18/17)