tv CSIS Forum on U.S.- South Korea Relations - Panel 4 CSPAN August 13, 2019 1:07pm-2:09pm EDT
do that. >> sunday night, 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's q&a. next, u.s. south korea relations. in this portion, u.s. diplomatic and military officials themselves in caps off korea talks about the evolving nature of u.s. south korean alliance. >> congratulations on a really remarkable year. it's a great honor to be back
here again with such a distinguished panel. i think people, this panel needs no real introduction but quickly got off the line. the most famous in history in terms of diplomacy. vincent brooks, the last commander, we were close at the pentagon, well done and getting us to that.neck. along distinguished career in the military, punctuate it by the head of all army forces in the pacific. several tours in iraq and the middle east.
max, we are lucky to be graced with one of the preeminent historians analysts of the exercise of american foreign policy. we are really lucky to have him here. it's a prolific use of articles and books you have written which are claimed at the highest level. make you for being here. victor, we saw the accolades, welcome back to your home court. i'll get us underway now. let's go to the first slide. at ten years, a couple of things from ten years ago, they put it back into 2009, we had obama sworn in as president of the u.s. in a photo next to him, reciprocal visits by the
president of korea and obama that year. we have secretary gates at the swapout of military and afghanistan and 2000 more troops in afghanistan. the wars in iraq and afghanistan were central to foreign policy making here in washington. in one article i read set the swapout of a military commander was the first time it was done since the korean war to combat that. it's completely accurate. i was interesting to make the connection about korea and afghanistan. president clinton visit to free two american journalists. we had a second nuclear test as well.
on pop culture, american idol was the number one show in the united states. extra points if you can figure out the winners there. i don't want to draw most but i'm told this one was very popular. beast, which later became highlight, k pop was founded that year which still exists. skipping over the nuclear testing, two funerals in south korea that year. into the new york yankees won the respective baseball series. they are the two teams in the league who have won the world series the most. that's 2009 in a nutshell. let me set up with this, in the middle of this story of activities, we have this,
obviously a visit by president obama in november 2009. the new york times wrote an article saying obama takes stern tone with north korea and iran. on the north, mr. obama said he was sending his north korea envoy next month for talks to design to get the nation back to the bargaining table but he warned that getting them back to the table would not be enough. south korea protruded to the protection that it would be more accommodating if he was cooperating closely on key issues including efforts to cause them to the program. in on trade, the only.neck of potential, they are still not
working to move on agreement from two years ago. mr. obama wanted to get it done but acknowledged that there's obviously a concern in the u.s. of the incredible trade imbalances in the last few years. a little past is prologue, let's look back at the past ten years, you have to responsibility over the broad part of every part of the relationship, where are we on these key issues? where have we come in the last ten years? where are we today? >> i'm going to go back even further but i also want to say congratulations. one thing i noticed, you never
actually seek women here. that's a great accomplishment. our expertise and dialogue and i congratulate you on that. that was ten years ago on the left? >> yes. that's everybody ten years ago. we have general brooks there giving i think a birthday ceremony. max, you are given a talk -- [laughter] i wasn't going to say. >> this is a photo of you announcing the formation of a
korean chair. >> the reason i mentioned that, november 2009, as obama was leaving, his first visit to korea ever, it wasn't set up as a last stop on the trip, they are taking into china, singapore or japan first and then korea. he kind of said it was a rough ride in the press and is almost like he got to korea and was a sigh of relief because he found he could talk to people. we are actually working together. at the end of the trip, it was a very good visit. it was very cold and i remember he was practically jogging to the plane. i was trying to say, next time you come, i want you to give a
speech for the students. he said, i need to get back and see my daughter's place. he was away for ten days, it was quite a long trip. it did go quite well. it made me reflect, i was just coming to the end of my first year there as ambassador and i had a very unlikely journey, i won't tell you about that but it made me think, i listened to the present talk about that relationship. i went to korea in 1975 as a volunteer and lived in the countryside. i was very aware of some of the things going on and learned about it some of it later. one of our predecessors, richard snyder was there at the time and he was saying the south koreans had a nuclear weapons program. that was a big issue in that
program. human rights was a huge issue with lots of pressure on that. the south koreans fear of abandonment in the aftermath and withdrawal from vietnam. so many security concerns, this 1976 that the u.s. military officers killed by an ax. what i remember from that time, sitting in a tiny restaurant having my lunch and there was a black and white television in the corner and they came over and jimmy carter would be president and everyone else in this little restaurant, it's a time when there was a lot of freedom of press and he said, i understand president carter is going to draw all troops from
south korea because of our human rights. don't you know that north korea has much worse human rights all? i'll take that message back. i went back in the 80s as a young diplomat. continued economic growth but koreans, i was political. koreans were very angry at the u.s. thinking that we had not helped to promote our democratization in the afterma aftermath. blaming us for a lot of things that had gone on and this great energy to think by the time we have the olympics, we want to have democracy so it was inspiring, challenging which really shaped me as a diplomat. now 20 years later, you could think everything was a sense of this is extraordinary.
where the u.s. relationship is coming. the thing president obama said, which was not reported by the new york times which was something i repeated again and again is president obama said the u.s. are okay relationship is stronger than it has ever been. you are supposed to be a cheerleader with the relationship with the ambassador but i never dared to think that. i was always sensitive about the overselling of the relationship but he said it. the other rule of ambassador, i told him but i asked the audience, do you agree and said why? then practicing to be a professor and i told him the answer. here's why, at the top of the list was korea's
democratization. imperfect, incomplete, that meant that the u.s. and republic of korea had shifting administrations from across the political spectrum in both countries and we managed to work together on a lot of issues. including trade. so that fast forwards me into 2009. the free-trade agreement and the news in the last year or so, it was signed under the george w. bush administration and ratified. finally it was ratified a year after i left as ambassador. so i didn't enjoy the ratifications. it took a long time but it got done. from 2009 to the present, all
the areas in which we worked, it grew. not only because of korea's graded economic and own global permit presence but because of shared desired about human rights. i think the public opinion overall was much more positive. i saw about the achilles' heel at least in south korea of the relationship was public opinion. we always have the elite. there was always a divided country where we had tens of thousands of troops over the years. i think what we have seen in the last ten years is that our relationship has become our alliance or institutionalized.
based on shared values but i do see coming up where we are now, really moving these challenges. the one thing i would say, another thing we've learned in this period of, a little before 2009, we are to talking at the second term of the bush administration, there's about alliance management. president bush was pretty far apart and there's quite a bit of tension in the relationship about how to approach north korea. i think one thing i hope we've learned going forward, north korea is challenging enough but we need to find a way to work together. now i think the challenge is
nuclear issue is clearly much harder. north korea had not yet tested, it was only the second test in 2009. that was a very different place. we went to a. of uncertainty in north korea. we tend to have our own rule and policy, we forget other places have influence, too. north korea has been seen quite a change for several years. i think we are in a more difficult place for that, i think trump has broken the taboo on high level, he probably would have been impeached if they had done that. but he did that and i do think
where bertha administration follows, it has widened in terms of the kind of areas he might take. the second thing is strategic uncertainty, the whole sense that the role of the u.s., the world order is in a state of challenge from within our own country. that will and is having an impact. >> that was really a great opening, really sweep of landscape, a lot of insight and history there. i wanted to turn to general brooks now. you also served early in your career. the second id and came back
later. feel free to pick up on anything that she addressed. one thing i wanted to ask you, take one step back. the peninsula, the job you had before was, you were in charge of all forces in asia. give a broad sweep of the landscape. i wanted to read from a article in 2009, the south korean government officials and analysts so that president obama visit represented a chance by stressing its reliability and partner with asia. taking a step back, could you address, where the developments had been in the past decade. how does south korea fit in
that? the dynamics on the peninsula as a result of all that you witnessed firsthand, both commander of all forces and u.s. commander as well. >> it's great to be here, i couldn't have done this without you. congratulations, victor on ten years of the center. early happy birthday. we are really at the anniversary of the start of the korean war. as we think back to the time, 2009, so much was going on in the world, the picture you showed, i was in command of the u.s. army at the time and something that i certainly greatly enjoyed and had the privilege of doing but the
expense of being commander, ten years or so earlier, a little over ten years, not quite 11 at that time. that shaped me considerably in terms of understanding the importance of the missions overseas, how little was known about korea and what was still going on korea at that time. six years after open temporary agreement was signed. it's still in effect, yet still temporary after all these years. i think about the corian forces, i took my own division back into, in iraq, 2009 and ten. we were at the end of the search
which i had also been present for in a different unit just two years before. korea had committed forces into a hospital with the u.s. as part of a larger coalition just as they had done before and having it side-by-side in korea on the peninsula. they had already proven themselves as they reliable partner in international security and being committed to things where they needed to come together and put themselves at risk. they had just come back a few months before this in 2008. there is already discussion about transforming the relationship of the military aspects of the u.s. a light, a
change of operation of control of forces, putting south korea in the lead with combined command for the first time. perhaps a reduction of the type of role and activities that the u.s. force was there. the transition plan and the creation and successor organization to korea, korea command. changing the structure, a discussion about creating a new face. all that has happened in the last year has gone into fruition. perhaps a timeline and envisioned then which is important about how things were in 2009. things are getting better for a period of time and it's a risk to be taken in terms of how the security structure was a raid on the korean peninsula. we saw changing dynamics around the region and as commander of
the u.s. army pacific responsible for all army forces from the west coast and the antarctic to the arctic circle. about 50% of the world in front of the world's population actively engaging with them and trying to explain to them in a military support policy role, what the u.s. was thinking as they use terms like pivot or rebalance or both. what does it mean, what does it look like, what's the reality of that? how important it would be for other countries in the region to be contributors to security while also working with an emerging china. china's rise was evident at that time. their economy was picking up pace significantly and it was causing question throughout the region about what china would be. the u.s. certainly hoped it would be a china living within
the rules of order, contributing to peace and prosperity throughout the region. in some regions that was happening but other measures, it was creating a different arrangement, a new great power relationship is what they were beginning to talk about as early as them. from then up to the present, we've seen this course navigating in different ways, which leads us to the position of labeling china as a security concern in the most recent sen sense, a threat to a free and open pacific. i think perhaps dangerously and maybe even narrowly, causing them to turn on a certain role. we have this in the background, it's been called as other countries in the region. on one hand, what the commitment
is going to be. with the u.s. ever be able to bring in? if it cannot, how do we get our own security concerns, realizing that this is growing. the reality has been since then, it was a time for south korea to turn attention away from korea. they had to stay focused on the peninsula as a went through and survived the internal pressures. later under pressure from china and japan it's a very complex
circumstance emerging from korea. people thought things were going to get better. and they didn't. until early 2018. the 2017 window looked like it would be a lot worse. before it got better. it might be at the brink of war and tipping over the edge. having been a part of that, we can talk about that in detail later but to see that shifting parker from where we were seeking was the calculus being changed. they thought differently about how they pursue their future and the change came but it took some risk. that brings us up to the recent years and a lot has changed in that time. the alliance has endured all that. they had applied pressure to it internally and externally instill it remains very strong. i support it in the
relationship. it's still intact as a solid entity and it's remarkable when you think about that and it's unique. >> i want to come back to you, i'm going to turn to him here. maybe you could pick up on this thread. your specialty is, you look back at your long list of extraordinary applications. in 2009, you write a lot about the middle east and afghanistan, iraq at least according to your website. later on, you write about asia, you talk about the article in
the power of politics. by the iran deal is bad. talk to the audience here about u.s. foreign policy in the middle east at that time and what was going on in korea and how the u.s. came to bridge those two computing power centers that competing for time and resources here. tell us about the decision making as you see it, the good, the bad and the ugly. >> everybody else said happy birthday to the program. i work at a rival but there are no rivals in the career of these studies. that is a very broad question.
in terms of what i personally have seen in the course of the last 20 years and u.s. foreign policy, we kind of went through that at the end of the cold war, a sense of 1991, the year that the cold war was ending. they drew the attention back to that. i was part of that and what i see as that decision as somebody
who supported the iraq war at the time. they showed the possibility and lack of attention. they are teaching us that it's not enough to have good intentions, you have to have a plan and pay attention to allies and what they are saying. if there's something wrong, he probably shouldn't take that. the division commander involved in some of the fallout from
those decisions, i think it was a catastrophic fall out on the war in iraq, i was reinforced by another major that occurred in 2000, the most significant thing at the time which was the global financial outcome, the great recession, all of those things shook the state of the american people and their government and it was support for international foreign policy and the policy of american leadership. to some extent, the initial beneficiary of that was president obama because part of the reason why he got elected was the war in iraq and hillary clinton supported it. president obama and i had disagreements but in the
american policy, he started to believe in american leadership and he wanted to rebalance things. i think he made some mistakes that. i think president obama was somebody who did believe in america on things like global warming. now i think what you're saying is the shockwave that swept through washington, i think partially was delayed results of the iraq war and delayed results of the great financial collapse of 2008 -- 2009.
the president does not believe in the great traditional american foreign policy going back to 1945. does not believe in allie or free trade. american foreign policy and certainly in my lifetime, probably some of the greatest jobs and generation created. now we have to have an argument, we do not have what america should do. i think the real challenge right now is for those of us who believe in it, i think it should be a force for good. for those of us who believe in that role, i think president trump and foreign policy he's
instituting, we should think about those in the way we have not before. my hope is that this near death experience perhaps under a more sober future president, we will rediscover the importance of the basic parts of american foreign policy. extend upward free trade. certainly stand up for the values of the alliance. along with the u.s. japan alliance and relationship and u.s. and there's so many alliance out there. there will be a lot of repairing that needs to be done. we have certainly come a long way since 2009. i wish i had more positive things to say about the
direction we have, but it is not overall good story. >> we went on the peninsula, general brooks toured a force through a duck, global perspective, max victor, it's your night, it's ten euros. i want to read to you one quote, victor pointed at the u.s. think tank, the casa launched the following, issues regarding the korea peninsula becoming more and more important. this is the first time they have been launched. they will take charge of research and policy making concerning inter- korean issues. given where we are, given that it's your night, bring us all
together, where are we in this ten years? set up where we are in the future. >> i feel obligated to say a couple of things about tonight and then i'll go back to that. i think we should all think john henry, great picture. his commitment to developing a program on korea and washington d.c. he did it because he believes that korea is critical to u.s. interests in asia. it was that commitment when i first met him that this genuinely, he is. that was the main reason i came
in. i didn't meet him on the job, i had a job in georgetown. he was so committed to this that i i have to work with and for that. i also want to think there's a lot of people who have been involved in making such are successful including kathy, who was the ambassador, we did our first big event in korea. brooks was always willing to give his time. he's a terrific addition, the list goes on and on. mike green and all staff who have been there. lisa collins who is now working at the pentagon. and joe who has been helping us
with all of our satellite imagery work. he's gotten a lot of attention lately. it has not been possible without all of these people. in 2009, i think about when you ask the opinion about 2009 until now, there are two things that comes to mind. the first on north korea is that we are no better off in 2019 then we work in 2009. in 2009, i remember essentially the party talks with kathy, ground for a halt after this. we found out about conjunction in 2008, then we went down after that. then north korea eventually did more tests.
that is relative today and the optics might be a little bit better, we are worse off because the programs have grown in many different ways since 2009. then on south korea, i can remember that statement that president obama made about the alliance and i agree with that at the time. i felt like the alliance had a broad base to it in terms of focusing not just on north korea but on sanctioning the lines with people like brooks and sharp but also a global agenda based on advanced democracy. it was no more obvious than when mark was obama's ambassador
because he pushed forward with an agenda that focused on the global scope of the alliance. the peninsula is important but there's a world out there that the u.s. can help shape. i thought that was a fantastic message. i talked about the alliance losing some of that, it's becoma broad-based experiment, kind of like an upside down pyramid now. all of the alliance rests on pretentious issues which are north korea, burton cherry, transitions, section 232 trade issues. so i agree with what tom said in the previous panel, the
strongest assets that the u.s. has today are partners and looking over about ten years, we all d to do more to improve growth. >> may be just one follow-up to general brooks. you sounded relatively optimistic in your assessment. you talked about inks that are the alliance is still strong. i'm glad he worked in the navy theft but you've got three or four things on the security side that gets at the heart of the relationship in terms of burden sharing agreement, then the cma also that's new. how does that impact the un command? could you talk us through where you see the security of this relationship going?
>> if you think about the outcomes of the singapore summit, one of them was mentioned earlier today, the remains. that required a military channel of communication. to be activated. in 2009, that's about the time where we changed the senior member of the united nations commission from being un-american to south korea. and north koreans walked away from the table. generals from the two sides talking to each other. in the time following the olympics in early 2018 and there was a military component to the condition of the olympics which was very important, the
conditions began to change. we found we could get the belt open for dialogue again with the people's army. on the subject of that. insulting one another and not coming to a meeting that we should be at, walking out of meetings, the un command was sitting there at the time. north korea would take advantage of the 30 minutes time difference. that has since been eliminated. it is not on the same time zone as everyone else but especially south korea. so this change of environment led to military to military dialogue, beginning between south korea and the american people's army. they try to lower the tension that was quite evident in 2017 but was in some ways a potential disruptor, demonic
discourse that was beginning to unfold. the season of symmetry was beginning to open in the spring 2018 and only a few months earlier that we ran across the zone and security area. november 2017. a few weeks later, we had the missile launch. in between there, we had a visit of president trump. a lot of things happened in that time. this military agreement is the fruit of dialogue between the united nations command and the south korean military. there was conversation about things that enhanced, increased the potential for peace and decreased potential for war and
then that discussion was carried by the south koreans into meetings with the north koreans enabled by un command at the locations, so it was a triangular relationship. then we got to direct dialogue with the army from the transfer remains. we got to the agreement on a date, time and place. they on the remains. they wouldn't tell exactly how many remains they had but they wanted to get whatever we could and bring them home. that ultimately happened. our discussions quietly without fanfare led to where we had a u.s. air force jet aircraft fly into north korea, landed on a major air base with the north
koreans. this is u.s. sovereignty flying into north korea. with un command representatives for having conversation, a meeting. it showed the relationship can and was changing. they released 35 boxes of remains. we think 100 -- 190 different people in those boxes, we brought them back. the moral is that, when north korea feels there is some foundation of mutual respect and conversation and they see a change of relationship, they will move in the direction they say they will move. they're not going to move in the direction you want them to necessarily but the direction they say they will move.
north korea will move in that direction because they said they would. he doesn't like to lose face. the road to get there though is where the work needs to be done. whether it's a series of summits or background work or both or just things that build confidence, that transfer remains dead. we both can be trusted on her word and move forward in ways that can choke there's a chance of progress. there's a fundamental challenge and i'll stop at this, i don't think we've completely addressed this. first is the eastern field versus the western view, how do you get to denuclearization? in simple terms, there are three things. relationship, trust and
denuclearization. what is the sequence among those? restaurant approaches, show me something that i can believe in infant i can trust you and then we can have a new relationship. the eastern butte is exactly the opposite. show me a new relationship that i can trust you and then i'll take steps regarding denuclearization. this dialogue is really important because it's part of that foundation of conveying respect even if it doesn't seem to fit. it's important, it's timely and has potential to lead to a new relationship which then can lead to a new set of action. but something we have to pay attention to.
>> we are about out of time. i want to go to the dean of this panel. you've heard a lot tonight. you've seen these ups and downs and from different levels. do you have any closing comments in terms of where you think the alliance is headed? any predictions in the future in terms of this situation? >> i fall between the optimism of general brooks and the pessimism that i hear from general victor. when it comes to the mechanics of the way that the u.s. and south korea worked together have quite well established and developed. we have kind of a resilience.
i think it's given the alliance a resilience that we need to acknowledge. i think it's also inevitable and natural. right now we've turned our attention back to the peninsula and north east asia. it has to do with north korea's increasing capabilities and ambitions of kim pgh kim jong un. changing in china, i think that is where we will be focused. it doesn't mean we can't go forward, it has been increasing over the years. not to emphasize the trump administration and climate change in an area we used to work with south korea but there are other areas. this alliance is focused on, i caught the unfinished business of the peninsula.
the status quo has never been u.s. policy. sadly, coming now to the 69th anniversary of the beginning of the war, i never thought -- i think many koreans in this room, we never thought we'd still be where we are with a divided peninsula but despite those challenges, i think we will to get on that. i feel pretty optimistic about that. my concern, much broader context or in the big questions of our time. i do relate the values to the u.s. since on what our role in the world is and whether they are calling strategic dilemma. i don't want to put words in the mouth of my korean friends but they are recognized times. the u.s. has become in the
short term, less predictable. some might say less reliable. it's that broader context that worries me. i do have confidence that we built some mechanisms over the years and try to work out our immediate issues on the peninsula and hopefully some broader ones as well. for all the ups and downs and trade issues because we did get that. we managed to keep that right along. >> thank you, great conversation. do we have time for a question or two from the audience? we started this panel a little late.
[silence] >> good afternoon. impressive turnout for an august day. congratulations to all of you but i think the wilson center has the brightest audiences in your bright enough to know this is a fabulous panel. fabulous conversation on this information, the first of several we are planning. i'm jane harman, president and ceo of the wilson center and li