THREAD: Why there is No Korean Peace Treaty (It wouldn’t Change Anything)

Much of the linked thread is highly contestable:

A. Korea obviously is not a 'forever war'

This is a grossly inaccurate description. 'Forever war' implies sustained kinetic activity in an unwinnable

1
quagmire with no obvious endpoint. That is not K at all. The war has been over since mid-1953, and it is NK, not the allies, who provokes. The lack of paperwork - a formal peace treaty - has no bearing on the empirical situation on the ground which is far from open conflict.

2
B. A 'War-Ending Declaration' (종전선언) is a legally bizarre neologism which no one really understands

The only reason this strange language is used is bc the Moon government's first effort to get a 'peace treaty' failed, as did its second, vaguer 'peace regime' effort. So

3
then we got the even murkier 'war-ending statement' idea, a weird fallback in the quixotic effort by the SK left to write a paper resolution to the war. But if it's not a treaty, then what is it? I spoke at a National Assembly Research Service (NARS) conference on this in 2018

4
when it was a hot topic. Everyone knew what a treaty was and why it was important. But no one really knew what a war-end declaration meant. The lawyers, MPs, and academics in attendance spent the whole time arguing about it: it is diplomatic recognition, a treaty, mutual

5
disarmament, a statement of intent? And what would flow from it? No one really knew.

C. Signing It Makes No Difference if Nothing Else Changes

If a treaty/war-end declaration does not reflect a political narrowing of the extreme regime type difference between N and SK,then

6
it will make no difference, bc nothing will change on the ground. In practice this means that a real treaty end to the war requires NK liberalization, bc SK is not going to become more like NK. I.e, if NK stays the orwellian, cultish DPRK it is, complete w/ a million soldiers

7
forward deployed on the DMZ, a spiraling WMD program, and gulags, then what would change post-treaty? Neither side would disarm; the inter-K arms race would continue; the US & UN commitment would still be needed; human rights wd still be a big issue; and so on. So what is the

8
point?

D. US Obduracy is Not the Primary Reason there is No Peace Treaty

Yes, the US is nervous about a treaty, but for good reason - it undercuts the legal basis of UNC and USFK. At the NARS conference I did, everyone admitted this. But there are

9
actually a lot of other, more important factors:

i) Implacable Resistance of the SK Right

The right here is anti-communist and pro-Southern-led unification. The Moon government has made no effort to reach out to them on this issue. They'll fight hard.

ii) SK Center/Median

10
Voter will be Nervous about Anything which Questions the US Commitment

The alliance is very popular and backstops SK growth & participation in the global economy. 'SK' isn't pining for this declaration; only the SK left really is, maybe 35% of the country. Moon just doesn’t

11
have the domestic support for this which is why this idea, which the left has kicked around for decades, never goes anywhere, just like Moon's 2019 inter-K 'peace economy' idea flopped.

iii) Legal Confusion

SK did not sign the armistice, so no one is quite clear what its

12
role in a declaration or treaty would be. But China did, so it would seem to have a veto. Do we want to invite CN further into Korean affairs given its cynical manipulation of NK as a 'buffer,' mistreatment of NK escapees, & bullying of SK on THAAD? The NARS event recognized

13
this legal tangle and had no answer.

iv) Constitutional Amendment?

The SK constitution declares SK the sole government of the peninsula. A treaty/declaration which formally recognized NK in some way might well require a constitutional amendment. The NARS event recognized

14
this too and had no answer.

E. A US-ROK alliance post-treaty would be contested by NK and China as unnecessary.

Yes, the US and SK could align in conditions of 'peace,' but that is de facto state of the peninsula now anyway, and post-treaty, alignment would only be harder.

15
China and NK would claim there's no reason for it. NK in the past has insisted on a US withdrawal as part of ending the war, and China particularly would play hardball on a peacetime US-ROK alliance, just as they did on THAAD.

F. A treaty/declaration is all upside for NK

It

16
suggests: inter-K diplomatic normalization; legitimization of NK as an equal, normal K state (rather than the orwellian gangster fiefdom and errant blackhole of Korean history which it is); and undercuts the legitimacy of UN and US presence. So why should we do this? What we

17
getting in return for all that? If we are going to do this, can we at least trade a treaty/war-end declaration for NK concession on human rights, WMD, KPA deployments, etc.?

18

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh
 

Keep Current with Robert E Kelly

Robert E Kelly Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

PDF

Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @Robert_E_Kelly

11 Sep
THREAD: Strategically, 9/11 was a one-off sucker-punch. That’s it.

1. 9/11 did not ‘change everything.’ In fact, it changed surprisingly little

This language was deployed to create political space for a vast expansion of US coercion, especially in the Middle East. If all the

1
rules have suddenly changed, then all sorts of behavior are suddenly permissible – like domestic spying, torture, and Iraq. But strategically, 9/11 did not change that much: US GDP continued to expand; US military power was scarcely affected; US alliances did not fracture; the

2
stock market re-opened after a few days and did not crash; gas prices did not spike; the global Islamic revolution Osama Bin Laden hoped this would ignite did not materialize:

2. 9/11’s big change was psychological – our shared national trauma fully

3
Read 17 tweets
10 Sep
THREAD: Post-'War on Terror' Restraint

If the Afghan withdrawal & 20th anniversary of 9/11 can wind-down our big foot-print 'war on terror' (for a more measured counter-terrorism), here is a quick case for greater restraint:

1. Strategic: Over-Extension

A well-known problem

1
of empires/hegemonies is too many commitments and too few resources. We should, obviously, avoid such overstretch, & given rising China, US commitments in the Middle East particularly (Afghanistan, e.g.) should be re-considered

2. Domestic/Democratic: Blowback Militarization

2
The post-9/11 militarization of US foreign policy has come home: in the torture debate (yes, we actually 'debated' torture), domestic surveillance, endemic governmental secrecy, near reverence on military and police issues (just watch Fox for 5 minutes),and the militarization/

3
Read 6 tweets
25 Aug
The biggest surprise, revelation even, of Afghanistan’s fall is not that the Taliban are bad or that the departure is messy. We knew that already

It’s how belligerent, even militaristic, the American and British media are, how totally captured by blob talking points about the

1
‘necessity’ that America fight all over the place and that it’s always ‘defeat’ rather than retrenchment or cutting your losses.

Two weeks ago, there was almost no reporting on Afghanistan. Suddenly a few days of inevitability chaotic imagery, and America is abandoning its

2
responsibilities in a fiasco.

And it was all hawks all the time on-air to comment. No retrenchers or restrainers to place the withdrawal in greater context.

Even in academia, a lot of international relations scholars have deeply soured on the war for more than a decade. But

3
Read 4 tweets
19 Aug
THREAD: 5 Bad Afghanistan Takes you should Ignore

1. Tragic: ‘What about all we lost there?’

If Afghanistan collapses this fast, there wasn’t actually that much there to lose. If anything, the rapid collapse indicates just how accurate were all those leaks over the last

1
decade, including the A Papers, about how little progress we were making, how corrupt the government was, how soft its military’s independent capabilities were, and so on.

2. Demagogic: ‘Did our soldiers die for nothing?’

That is an emotionally manipulative version of the

2
sunk cost fallacy. We cannot bring back our war dead. If we must stay in an unwinnable conflict to ‘honor their sacrifice,’ then we condemn more to die later. That’s immoral. The logic of this argument means also we can never leave a commitment, no matter misconceived, which

3
Read 12 tweets
14 Aug
THREAD on South Korea as a regional geopolitical pivot or broker arbitrating between the US and NK, or the US and China.

This is not true.

I’ve reviewed repeated journal articles during the Moon years making this argument, and my comments are always the same. So to the left-

1
wing SK scholars who continue to push this (bc SK hawks never say this), please consider how obviously falsifiable this idea is:

1. SK is a formal, MNNA US treaty ally. That right there makes neutralism more a normative desire than an empirical claim.

2. There are emplaced

2
US bases, equipment, warfighters, and consultants all over the peninsula. Not that many US allies or partners actually have as much stuff as the US parks here.

3. USFK is pretty integrated with the ROK military. The relationships with Japan and NATO are more siloed.

3
Read 13 tweets
1 Jul
Rumsfeld pushed a war of choice on evidence he knew was thin, catastrophically mismanaged the war’s follow-up, then embraced torture.

That puts him at the bottom among SecDefs along with McNamara, who at least had the humility to eventually publicly apologize.

1
Rumsfeld had a few good ideas domestically:

Like McNamara he strongly asserted civilian control over DoD. You may not have liked the choices he made, and he should have listened to the generals more on troops numbers to stabilize Iraq, but reinforcing civilian control

2
was valuable after President Clinton let DoD operate too freely (bc he was worried about being criticized as Vietnam draft dodger).

Rumsfeld also - again like McNamara - sought to bring some discipline to DoD procurement, trying to end the Cold War inertia buying of the 1990s

3
Read 7 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!


This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!

:(