America's Retreat from Asia
The United States' planned withdrawal of troops from Asia, which President George W. Bush announced on August 16, need not harm peace and stability in the region and particularly in Korea. But a key condition for a smooth redeployment of US troops is close consultations by America with its allies, something it has not done well up to now.
South Korea and Japan need to have their views taken into serious account if this now inevitable withdrawal is to succeed. By contrast, unilaterally announcing the withdrawal - and then unilaterally implementing it - may harm the very purpose that the remaining US troops in Asia are intended to serve: assuring deterrence, stability, and nonproliferation in Korea and Asia.
The withdrawal plan is causing countless worries. In Japan, there are concerns that it will make the country America's frontline command post in Asia, possibly beyond the scope of its bilateral security treaty with the US. One result is that China feels nervous about the implications of any expansion of the American-Japanese military partnership.