The Associated Press reported on Sept 4 that there is “a growing worry that has many in South Korea and Japan asking a startling question … namely a separation or ‘decoupling’ of the decades-old security alliance between the United States and its top Asian allies, South Korea and Japan?”
A Korean student is quoted worrying “whether the U.S. will defend South Korea at a time when the U.S. mainland is under threat … If you look at what Trump said now, the answer seems to be no”.
“Some see a not-too-distant future” that Pyongyang may “attack Seoul or Tokyo without U.S. intervention because of American fears that North Korean retaliation could kill millions in American cities.” Woo Young-soo, a law lecturer, said he was “worried about whether the U.S. is really serious about defending its ally, South Korea, or if it’s putting its own national interest first.”
In other words, the so-called “all options on the table” include American withdrawal after arming the two allies with nuclear weapons. It is exactly what I said in April 2016 [Note 1].
It therefore makes sense that, according to New York Post, Japan is planning possible mass evacuation amid North Korea threat on Sept 4 as well.
Of course, the Trump administration may also be thinking of bombing North Korea after having evacuated their soldiers — 54,000 in Japan and 28,500 in South Korea — and the civilians, but whether a war would come true also depends on what and how Beijing and Moscow are acting and reacting.
I do not have insider information, but am sure that Kim Jong-un is crystal clear that North Korea must not be the first party to attack, or otherwise it would be all alone. So long as Pyongyang is not alone, the White House cannot afford to be reckless.
In other words, whom Beijing and Moscow are watching is not Pyongyang, but Washington (and perhaps the hawkish Abe). If even I could have predicted such a very likely option of American retreat, Beijing too could have had similar political calculation and thus being so calm.
By the time Seoul and Washington are willing to uninstall the THAAD system as requested by Beijing and stop all the joint military drills and war games as requested by Pyongyang, then tension would cool down with the beginning of the six-party talk.
Foreign Policy In Focus: Keith K C Hui, “Trump’s remarks reveal fears about US troops in harm’s way from North Korea”, Apr 7, 2016.
The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.