By Donald Hugh McMillen
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Clausewitz suggested that to win the war, one should first identify the heart of enemy forces, concentrate on destroying it, and not scatter one's strength around the enemy's periphery. The US seemed to follow this Clausewitzian dictum faithfully and developed a formidable nuclear striking force, aimed directly at the heart of the Soviet Union. The US has not built up its ground forces, nor has it focused on naval power. In the 1950s and 1960s, this strategy seemed to work well. Now, however, the situation has changed.
With North Korea's superior forces deployed only 40 kilometers north of the capital city of Seoul, South Koreans cannot but be anxious. In this situation it is quite natural for South Koreans to strongly desire the presence of US forces in Korea to strengthen their capability to deter North Korea. But the US presence aside, South Korea urgently needs to supplement its forces if it is to defend itself adequately against North Korea. First, it needs about 100 modern fighters to maintain air superiority.
First, Americans will not believe that North Korea can attack South Korea alone. They underestimate North Korean war capabilities as well as its will. Second, Americans expect the PRC and the USSR to restrain the North Koreans under the assumption that both do not want to disturb the present status quo in East Asia. And third, Americans believe that they could stop any North Korean invasion with their air and naval striking power alone. This 'perception gap' has produced distrust between the two allies for the past fifteen years/ 9 and created numerous policy conflicts between them.
Asian Perspectives on International Security by Donald Hugh McMillen