Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Why not end the Korean War?

The North Korean government is insisting that the U.S. sign a formal declaration of the end of the Korean War before they agree to any binding limits on their nuclear weapons. The U.S. wants NoKo to agree to denuclearize first. Meanwhile:
President Moon Jae-in of South Korea has agreed with Mr. Kim that such a declaration would be an important step, and South Korean officials have urged their American counterparts to support the move.
I realize the Trump Administration is a dumpster fire when it comes to any negotiations, but my understanding is that it has been a long-standing American position to resist a formal declaration of the Korean War without serious concessions from the North. Why is that?

If North Korea and South Korea want the Korean war to formally end, is there any good reason to stop them? Isn't the end of any war a good thing in and of itself, especially when it is what both sides want? Is it just because a formal declaration would trigger a reevaluation of all those U.S. troops stationed in South Korea? That can't be the whole story, because South Korea wants U.S. troops to stay, so it would be easy for American forces to remain with SoKo's permission if there were a peace treaty. Also, the possibility that U.S. forces might have to leave can't be what motivates Trump to resist a peace treaty because he wants them to leave. Trump has been talking about withdrawing U.S. forces from Korea since before he was president.

So why won't the U.S. agree to a signed declaration that the Korean War is over? Such a declaration would only be recognizing reality. The violence of the war is largely over (aside from the occasional person shot trying to cross the DMZ or NoKo's every-once-in-a-while attacks on SoKo boats), and everyone agrees that if large-scale fighting broke out at this point, it would be a disaster.

What am I missing?