Contrary to the claims of the Bush Administration, they did not perceive of the U.S. military as a force of liberation and a symbol of freedom but as an aggressor who violated international laws through uninvited entry into a sovereign nation. While the Iraqi scenario is, arguably, typical of attitudes towards foreign military presence in a sovereign nation, the case of South Korea is somewhat different. South Korea is a sovereign nation whose sovereignty is not threatened by the U.S, military but ensured and protected through its continued presence. Despite the fact that some within South Korea are arguing in favour of the departure of the American military, the historical contribution of the U.S. military to South Korea and the role that it plays in the securitization of the nation support its continued presence.
The majority of South Koreans, including President Roh and his government, are in favour of a U.S, military withdrawal from South Korea. The United States, according to Richard Halloran (2006), the military correspondent for the New York Times, is complying with the South Korean demand for withdrawal and has already begun phasing out its military forces in the country. The United States argues that its decision is based on a number of considerations. These include the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the resultant pressure they have placed on US military forces; the United States' belief that South Korea is finally in a position to assume responsibility for its own national defence; and South Korean public opinion (Halloran, 2006). Indeed, a recent public opinion poll has indicated that the majority of South Koreans are strongly in favour of U.S. military withdrawal and both the President and the government have repeatedly expressed the imperatives of U.S. military withdrawal from the country (Holloran, 2006). It is for these reasons that the United States has commenced military withdrawal from South Korea.
A review of the historical contribution which the United States military has made to South Korea's stability, national security and evolution into a democratic nation supports arguments against withdrawal. The history of the US military presence in South Korea stretches back to 1945 when, at the conclusion of World War II, the American forces liberated the Korean Peninsula. As Yang, a Korean political scientist and author of North and South Korean Political Systems: A Comparative Analysis explains, prior to the American military liberation of Korea, the Peninsula had suffered 35 years of brutal Japanese military occupation. During those thirty-five years, the Japanese attempted to obliterate the Korean identity, exploited the nation and abused its population and, more importantly, completely undermined and annihilated the very notion of Korean sovereignty. While conceding to the fact that the United States hardly attempted to intervene in this situation prior to World War II, the fact is that its eventual comprehension of the Japanese military threat motivated intervention in favour of the Korean Peninsula. Indeed, were it not for the United States' military, the Korean Peninsula is quite unlikely to have regained its sovereignty and independence as early as 1945 (Yang, 2004). In other words, US military intervention has played a profoundly constructive role in the country's history.
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