tv U.S.- Korea Relations CSPAN May 29, 2018 12:00pm-1:07pm EDT
>> welcome to the korea economic institute of america and our quite timely program today dealing with security in the korean peninsula. let me turn this over to our senior director, and the director of congressional affairs. >> thank you. thank you for being here today. as you know, we have had an interesting week with president trump canceling the summit. now it looks as though it will be back on. one of of this process, the issues that has come out is
-- what is the role of united states forces in south korea and the future of that role? it is something we want to discuss today. we are fortunate to have david maxwell and frank with us, both have extensive experience working in the u.s. military serving in south korea or at the department of defense working on these issues, so briefly, you have the bios. frank, to my right, a senior executive at the institute of peace. he was a visiting scholar at johns hopkins from 2010 to 2017. he served as senior advisor in the office of secretary of defense. m is david maxwell, a 30 year veteran of the u.s. army. he retired as special forces colonel, serving 28 years in asia. he served on united nations command, combined forces command and u.s. forces korea.
he was the planner for the unc, 5072-98. both of them have extensive experiences dealing with this issue. there we move directly into situation -- sorry, looking at u.s. forces in south korea, i want to talk about the situation we are now. i feel like we need to have it in context. it looks like the summit might be on. of --o you think in terms maybe we will start with you, frank -- where we are right now in terms of the process? do you think the summit will happen and do you think we are in a good place for that? frank: thank you for having me here. we have not received official confirmation the summit is happening at all or on june 12.
the remarks from the white house, from south and north korea, seem to suggest there are preparations occurring now that would put a summit on track for june 12, at least sometime shortly after. it seems on the way. a lot of people have criticized the preparation saying, normally it is lower-level meetings that happen first, then you culminate in a senior-level meeting or summit. i see the value in that. at the same time i think what makes this situation unique is the fact that president trump is willing to meet with kim jong-un quickly. at this point, because we have had mike pompeo meet with kim jong-un twice, and there will be a third meeting with kim yong chol and mike pompeo, you have the ambassador meeting now, the logistics meeting, a lot of
inter-korean meetings. there has been a lot of meetings. this has been rushed. but i think we have been talking about north korea issues for the last 25 years. it is not a matter of preparation. it is a matter of political will. dave, the north koreans were saying they would not denuclearize. is there a political will on the north korean side to denuclearize and on the u.s. side, is their political will to do the things we need to do? david: the use of the word, denuclearize, is a problem. to echo what frank said, hill,row church certainly with the april north-south meeting and the context, i think it is a good thing. regardless of what happens on
june 12, whatever the outcome is, the idea that we are talking is a good thing. jong-un isk that kim getting just what he wants. he is arriving on the world stage. that april meeting, he turned out to be a media savvy operator. opinions, a lot of particularly in the south, and how he handled himself, both he and president moon. they orchestrated the best made-for-tv diplomatic event. will north korea dismantle nuclear weapons programs? your guess is as good as mine. everything we have studied up until this point, we believe that north korea's nuclear program is key to the regime's
survival, key to blackmail diplomacy. it is hard to see whether it will give up the nuclear program for anything. it is really important that jong-unt trump and kim come to some kind of agreement on what they mean by denuclearization. we believe that from kim jong-un's point of view, denuclearization is from the entire peninsula. end to which means the u.s. force presence on the peninsula, because that is what threatens the north. that perspective from kim jong-un will always give him a trump card. if we are unwilling to do that, i believe we should be unwilling to end the alliance, in any situation, he will always have a way out because he will be able to say, if we do not follow his
concept of denuclearization, we id foret to see the north korea. frank: i'm very skeptical about kim jong-un's willingness to denuclearize. i think he is serious about willing to go down the path of denuclearization to at least see what sorts of benefits and incentives he can extract along the way. if that is what we have to deal with, it is worthwhile. david: i would agree. that is one path. that is one path. the ultimate path is he will go down the other path where he will see how much he can get and never take any substantive action, which is similar to the past couple decades. before we moved to specifics of u.s. forces in south korea -- one question i have, we will start with you frank, working from the premise that the summit
happens, they have a framework or declaration where they announce, beyond the definition of denuclearization to make sure we're on the same page -- are there other key things you would like to see in that you know we're in a good place? think having some sort of joint communique or declaration that says at a minimum, north korea is committed to denuclearization, and it may be very broad like that without specifics. but their commitment to denuclearization as well as a u.s. commitment to addressing north korea concerns, going as far as being willing to think process, ase regime well as a broad roadmap and timeline for the next senior-level meeting. if you have those components, it will be successful. david: i concur with frank.
a little bit finer point on it -- i would like to see, the best case -- i don't think there will be a grand bargain. i don't think we will see a big commitment. but i think to add to what frank said, i would like to see both president trump and kim jong-un to agree to allow their diplomats, the experts to come together and develop that roadmap. i don't think you will have a roadmap completed by the time of the summit on the 12th or thereabouts and i don't think they will create one at that time. an agreement to allow experts to work on a roadmap and a time frame meet again in three months or six months and to continue the process. not athat would be success but it would be a good outcome, putting us on a path, a diplomatic path, that we have to test. we have to continue to test and ultimately get into verification aspects. frank: that is the bare minimum.
if there are additional things that could be announced, even better. for example there is the travel ban, that prevents u.s. citizens from going to north korea except for journalists and red cross. that that needs to be renewed. some announcement or statement from north korea that a nuclear missile production freeze, things like that that are doable. security guarantee. something addressing the participation. those are things that are soble, but also reversible, it doesn't commit any side to do something long-term if the other side does not act on it.
>> how would you describe the role of troop presence in south korea? david will have great stuff to say on this because he served. the primary role is to deter aggression from north korea. a deterrence role. the flipside is reassurance. we are there in korea to assure our allies, south korea and japan, about our commitment to defend against a north korean attack. tripwire, serve as a the u.s. is automatically involved. given the relatively small size of our force presence, 2500 troops relative to the sub. theps, a special role for
forces is to fill in the gaps. intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance. the south korean capabilities have not been able to mature quickly on. if deterrence fails and we have to defend south korea from a north korean attacked -- to do so effectively, we need to have been there conducting military exercises so we build up interoperability, build trusting coordination, all the things that need to have been done in advance before a scenario occurs -- the last part, we have to look at the force presence in korea in the context of our strategic security in the region and our global posture. do, that allan depends on the security environment in the region and how the forces on the peninsula provide flexibility for our
posture globally. things, ane of the key part of this relationship is we have a treaty. that predates the treaty with japan. mutual defense treaty with south korea work and what obligations does it place on the united states and south korea? david: that is a great question. i would echo everything frank said but one slight adjustment to that -- our forces don't necessarily fill in the gaps of korean forces. hasway the alliance evolved, both nations have developed capabilities that contribute to the alliance. each countryat, has not had to develop certain other capabilities. it is less about gaps, more about optimizing capabilities of both militaries to defend the republic of korea.
it is interesting to note in the 19 83 mutual defense treaty, -- in the 1953 mutual defense treaty, there are two words not used -- north korea. specifically the treaty said desiring to publicly declare, the common determination to defend themselves against external armed attack so no potential aggressor could be under the illusion that either of them stands alone in the furtherarea, desiring to strengthen efforts for collective defense for the preservation of peace and security, pending the development of comprehensive and effective system of regional security in the pacific area. that is from the preamble. there are six short articles, less than two pages, the entire treaty. it is to defend the south against external aggression. it talks about thie pacific area. preservation of peace and security pending the development
of an effective system -- you could interpret that, and eventual peace treaty or agreement, if you look at the 1953 armistice signed, which, only suspended hostilities, paragraph 60 of the armistice, and agreement between military leaders on the north side and the u.n. side, paragraph 60 calls on all political parties to come together to solve the korea question within 90 days. that is what the words were. the korea question is --? the unnatural division of the korean peninsula. military leaders in 1953 recognize there has to be a political solution. suspendedrarily hostilities so political leaders could do that. seven decade later we still do not have that solution. frank: i would add that this binding obligation also falls on
the rok side as well. in forces have been involved u.s. force missions including ae iraq war, afghanistan, whole host of other operations around the world. >> when i started, i talked about, there are questions raised about the future of u.s. forces in south korea. one of the things people don't realize is -- the nature of our relationship has changed over the years. one of the things i like to talk -- we haveince basically been discussing how to transfer one-time operational control to south korea. dave, i will start with you. if you could tell us about how the current command structure works and what this relationship change would mean? david: this is the most complex
issue. command control in korea is complex. i will do my best to simplify it. there are three major commands in korea. united nations command, established by the 82 and 83 accord. that has existed since the korean war. 1978, with the development of the rok economy, society and military that the combined forces command it was established. that is a bilateral command that is now responsible for deterrence of an attack and if deterrence fails, defeating an attack and winning the war, supporting the ultimate answer to the korea question. is what we-korea, all in the military,
sub unified command. it belongs to the pacific commander in hawaii. it provides forces to the rok -u.s. command. u.s. forces-korea has no command over rok forces and it is an administrative order. on the korean side, you have the rok case of staff which controls the entire rok military. when decisions are made in conjunction with the minister and secretary of defense, they will provide forces, korean forces and u.s. forces to the u.s. forces combined forces command in order to raise the readiness level to be prepared to meet a threat. u.s. forces-korea provides
forces. of u.s.ander forces-korea wears a fourth cap as a member of the military committee and he has a complex job. it is very confusing to all of us. those of you in korea know that the press talks about u.s. forces-korea. that has no role over rok military forces. it is the combined forces command and general brooks answers to the military committee. the military committee is made up of representatives of the national command and military authorities from both countries, -bothchairman chairman's, the secretary of defense and general brooks. those korean and u.s. military officers and civilian leaders determine the
actions of the combined forces command and in effect, general brooks will say this publicly that he answers equally to both presidents, as the combined forces command commander. the united nations commander answers to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff because the united nations may the united states the executive agent of the united nations command. he reports to general dunford. commander,ces-korea he reports to admiral harris, up until this week. change of command happens in the next couple days. he works for multiple commanders, multiple leaders. he is the war fighting commander of the command, he answers equally to both korea and the u.s.. transfer started, initiated in
january, 2003 after the election. rumsfeld,by secretary as you recall the time frame after the highway 56 incident, secretary rumsfeld's desire to use all forces, u.s. military forces in the war on terrorism suggested to the koreans they change opcom move u.s. forces to so he could use u.s. forces in other areas outside korea. that started this long process of the transfer. rokas predicated on the government investing in military capabilities to provide rok military with independent war fighting abilities. frank mentioned the gaps on how the alliance was optimized. when you split the combined forces command, it will be like splitting siamese twins. it is so integrated, the
interoperability between the forces is so great, you will have to split the baby. it has proven to be expensive for the rok government to develop counter fire capabilities, advanced precision weapons capabilities. there were 10 major areas that the rok government had to invest in while simultaneously contributing to the burden sharing of u.s. forces in korea and moving u.s. forces south to camp humphreys to what is now the largest u.s. military base outside the united states and which costsrgest, $10.7 billion and the rok government contributed 92% of that funding. wharton capabilities and support u.s.urden sharing of
forces south, that put pressure on rok government and that has what delay the transfer and in 2015, they determined to make a condition based. we just heard from the secretary -- the minister of defense saying that by 2023, there will be a new combined command with a korean general in charge and a u.s. deputy commander. that will ultimately be the and con transfer. in the end, that new command will have to answer equally to the military committee. as there are now no korean forces under the control of the u.s. government, even in the new construct, there will not be any u.s. forces under control of the korean government. they will still answer to the military committee as it does now. there will be no sovereignty issues, no national emotional issues or there should not be on the u.s. side, just as on the
korean side now. although of course there are. frank: the only thing i would agreed the two countries to accelerate the transition by 2023. there are still conditions that are involved. two of them are the rok developing critical military capabilities and advanced capabilities necessary to assume the lead of the war fight. we have seen them take the steps, to upgrade defense. theacquisition of f35's global hawk. rok is taking the steps to fill in gaps and give them more confidence to take the lead. david: i would argue as long as there is a combined command as there is now, that we can move forward. my biggest fear, and during this
process from 2003 to just recently, the concept was to have two separate commands. there would be a separate u.s. korea command and they would coordinate. as all personal know, that is a violation of the principle of war -- unity of command. having separate commands is not the way to go. we have developed this combined command that is more and works together better than any other international coalition command in the world. it is the envy of other countries. other countries would like to have the same kind of relationship, military relationship as the korean military and the u.s. military. 2023, if went in can sustain a combined command and there is a korean general in charge, we will be just fine and
able to execute the alliance responsibilities of deterrence and if that fails, defending, fighting and winning. to 2023 oroving closer, one of the issues that comes up, that is often discussed is, if north korea is no longer a threat, is there really a purpose for u.s. troops in south korea? roles thatabout the south korea has played in u.s. missions -- is our relationship really so basic in that north korea is the focus or has the relationship evolved over the last 60 years? frank: like i said, the primary mission has been to deter and defend against external attack, meeting north korea. there is also missions that focus on the regional security environment, as well as the global security environment. we have instances where u.s. troops in south korea will lead
the commensal -- leave the peninsula, under stability that allows the flexibility for u.s. forces to serve in any global mission. i would not say it is just a basic mission of defending against north korea. it has evolved over the last, however many decades of the alliance. david: to add, if there is a peace regime, a settlement to the korean war, even unification, we have to ask the fundamental questions. questions we should be continuing to ask. what do we as the u.s. want to achieve on the korean peninsula? what are our interests? and in northeast asia, that will support u.s. and korean interests, alliance interests. as i said and as frank alludes
to, the mutual defense treaty is not just about north korea. it is a treaty between the rok and the u.s. for mutual security. whatever evolves on the korean peninsula, we need to ask ourselves -- what our our combined interests and specifically for the military what goals and objectives and what our strategy is -- how do we organize u.s. and rok forces to support those political objectives? that is something that is important and something we have to continue to do. that is why we have seen the military alliance evolve over the last seven decades. we should not be afraid to evolve in the alliance to change force structure. one thing i do caution -- frank brought up 28,000 people.
congress has talked about passing a law about having a floor. counting soldiers, sailors, marines, doesn't help me. what are the capabilities? if we had 22,000 crooks on the peninsula, i don't know that that would help us in fighting a war, although it may be necessary to feed the people in the north. on a serious note, rather than talk about pure troop numbers, we should be talking about capabilities. as we talk about capabilities, command control, communications, logistics. very few of our forces are combat forces. we have one ground combat brigade on the peninsula. divisions withk three per grades each, -- three. brigades each compare those numbers. what we are prepared to do is have logistics, capability to
reinforce the peninsula. that is what a large amount of our forces are therefore, to bring reinforcements from the region and the united states. frank: i would add that you are talking about troop numbers. the president is not a static issue. slowly theorean war, troops were drawn down from 60,000 to 40000 and now we are at 20,500. if you're asking about a hypothetical scenario and what mean, it depends on what type of peace? is it tenuous? this kim jong-un still in power and still have weapons of mass destruction? what would our role and mission be? in that case, you would still have a strong rationale for keeping troops on the peninsula. if you are further down the sustainable, 20
years without a major provocation, maybe north korea is pursuing the path of economic and political liberalization, in that case there is a rationale for a drawdown. people tend to see in black and white. the current presence on the peninsula or the complete withdrawal. there are many different gradations. what function and role the forces are serving. >> i want to date into this. -- dig into this. there was a story in the new york times this morning, it could take 15 years to denuclearize north korea. at a minimum, david albright says the program, 36 months, but regardless of the summit, this is not going to happen tomorrow.
the picture going forward, relations will look similar. in that environment, are their structure changes that make sense regardless? things that where we should move forward and improve air presence or something? think our military planners continuously assess that and try to determine what we need to do. if it takes 15 years to denuclearize, or dismantle -- i hate to use the word denuclearize -- if it takes 15 years to dismantle the nuclear program, i'm not just concerned about their nuclear program. army.al, biological, and i'm concerned about this calculation. we are making an assumption that kim jong-un has given up his strategy, that the family regime
has had for the last seven decades. that needs to be tested. i would not make an assumption that he has given up that strategy, until it is thoroughly tested. the presence of u.s. forces combined it with rok military provides a deterrent effect. we have to be prepared for potential miscalculation, until the confidence building measures for north korea's conventional forces are implemented, polling back from the dmz, artillery ranges, until those actions are taken, we have to continue to make sure our forces are ready and that we have the right forces in place to deter and defend. >> let me pull this point out more. it is the question of the north korean force structure more broadly, not just the nuclear side. david: we have to continually
assess their capabilities and intentions, which of course, intentions are the hardest to assess. withnot willing to gamble u.s. interests on the peninsula or with the lives of 50 million koreans living in the south either. it is in our, interest to prevent a war on the korean peninsula. i think we should all agree we do not want war to happen. i happen to think the best way to deter war is a strong rok-u .s. combined military capability, >> i want to move to questions in a couple minutes. maybe start with you frank, getting into the question of -- howe have a troop drawdown, does that impact our ability to defend south korea if something
, japan or more widely in the region? frank: i will be brief. one of the biggest disadvantages is you lose that tripwire. that depends on how restructuring is done but if you do not have u.s. presence there, the deterrence element is severely diminished. our posture in same, we share the security threat and concerned with our japanese allies. what happens in north korea will not only affect our presence in korea but also in japan. because of the unc bases in japan and the function it plays in facilitating the flow into korea, that will be affected as well. david: you have to take a holistic approach. the seven united nations designated bases in japan are
critical to supporting any contingency on the peninsula. you have to look at a regional approach. the seventh fleet, both in the pacific air force, those forces in the region have to be looked at. i would push back on tripwire. -- there few forces are no forces on the dmz, no u.s. forces. the dmz is defended by the korean military and except for a small element in family, the arerity battalion, there no u.s. forces on the dmz. as we move the forces to camp humphreys, they will be out of normal artillery range. think u.s.re, we all forces are on the dmz and will be the first shots fired. atst shots may occur airbases with missile attacks
but the point i want to make -- there is a bigger tripwire the in the u.s. military. the presence of u.s. civilians, not military dependence but the interconnectedness of korea and the united states economically, multinational corporations -- there is a large civilian, u.s. presence and international presence in south korea because of the stature of korean society, economy, that to me, we have a large u.s. civilian presence in south korea that is under the threat of north korean artillery. i would include that in any kind of tripwire discussion. we cannot disengage. think about it. we could hold the military out of south korea decided they did not want u.s. military presence, we would pull the military out. we could not make our civilians go home.
if they are engaged in economic commerce and the like -- civilian presence in south korea is very large. that is part of any kind of tripwire. frank: when you look at -- >> when you look at any recent complex of the u.s., this is something uniquely different. some members of congress have said, if there is a conflict it will happen over there. there is such a large u.s. presence in south korea itself, in some ways the conflict happens here regardless of whether we want it or not. david: a conflict there will have global impacts. that peninsula is surrounded by the second largest economy in the world, china and then japan. russia to the north. theomething happens to peninsula, war, regime collapse, instability, it will have global effects. korea is between the eighth and
the 11th largest economy. point forcal northeast asia. what happens there will have global effects. it is in our interest to be concerned with the security of the peninsula. frank: point for northeast asia. korea is becoming the tuneup among wha -- the tuna among whales. >> if we were to take troop drawdown, where would a reduction of u.s. troops go and what would the likely cost me to the united states itself? frank: they would have a better idea than i would but it depends on a lot of factors. i don't know where they would go. it depends on what our security requirements are around the world, whether we can take them back to the u.s. it depends on other allies and what their needs might be. i would say, there is an assumption we can sort of, have 1.4 million troops in the world,
an assumption we can take them out and bring them back to the u.s. it is not that easy. sometimes it is easier to pay for the troops with our posture abroad because we have support from other countries. when korea and japan pay their share of nonpersonnel station costs, that is incredibly helpful, instead of us bringing back how many troops and we are paying for cost. david: to give you the anecdote. in 2004 went secretary rumsfeld to a combat team from the western corridor, that combat team went to iraq, served a year in iraq and then came back and was dispersed throughout the u.s. military at fort carson, four campbell -- fort campbell. the flags of those units, we designate the units, those headquarters dissolved.
we lost that force structure. the numbers were absorbed into the military but we reduced, by one brigade combat team, that was a coherent, cohesive unit. the reason is, it is hard to absorb an entire unit back in the states. everyone is concerned, familiar with the base realignment commission, and how our military bases are sized to be able to host the military units that are there. to bring in another team or two, or an aviation brigade or air wings, that will require a lot of u.s. taxpayer money to build facilities in the united states to be able to house them. what normally will happen is, this happened during the drawdown in europe as well. units drew down and were
deactivated, flags were rolled up and soldiers were farmed out to the rest of the military to make up other shortfalls. the size of our military will shrink, because as frank said, it is cost effective in many ways for us to have stationing cost borne by the host nation. korea is negotiating the agreement right now as we speak. they pay 46% of cost. of u.s. taxpayers not having to foot the bill. >> i would like to take it open to questions. wait for the microphone and then if you could give your name and affiliation? here in the front. up here in the front? >> thank you for this.
i am with congressional quarterly. there has been focused in washington on what the trump administration's policy is toward negotiations. there has also been diversions in south korea as to what is the policy regarding the use of u.s. forces on the peninsula. you will recall the foreign affairs article by moon's national security adviser that suggested it is inevitable that u.s. forces would draw down. conservatives in opposition, they are in a wilderness but there is a chance they could come back to power. how important is it for the moon to make and treaties to conservatives, to compromise security posture so it in the event conservatives come back to power, there is not a backlash
the way there was when president lee was elected? frank: i think you are seeing sort of a sea change in south korean policies. it is not just the liberals but even the national security adviser talked about the need to consider u.s. presence in korea. certainly president moon is taking steps, to if not institutionalize, create a stronger foundation for some of the changes that will happen in the current negotiations, including trying to get legislative approval for the declarations. i think you're seeing many different segments of south korean society trying to push forward efforts.
david: i hope i debunked the argument that says if there is a piece regime there will be no more justification for u.s. force presence. the mutual defense treaty does not specify the threat being only north korea. the justification for u.s. forces is going to be based on the agreement by both governments. both governments have to agree. if the south korean government does not want u.s. forces on the peninsula, we will pack up and go home just as we had done in iraq and anywhere else. the one thing the u.s. government is good at is, if we are told to leave -- we leave. if we leave that will have long-term implications. his argument does not hold water if you read the mutual defense treaty. there can be continued justification if there is a peace regime.
it depends on what the political leaders want to do. continued evolution of the presence, determining capabilities based on our interests based on assessment of threats, is a good thing. i am not at all arguing we should maintain the status quo. we have never maintained the status quo. it is a continual evolution. as frank said, we have gone from large to lesser numbers. we should determine what it is u.s. alliance wants to achieve and we should have a common understanding of the contributions each country can make to the security environment to support the alliance. frank: i would add that we talked earlier about legislation, the amendment in fy 8-'19, a floor of 22,000. it is strange because it is not just up to the u.s. to put a
floor on presence of troops in korea. it would require a discussion between both sides. >> when we talk about the future, the cold war ended, we still have troops in the united kingdom, in germany, italy. some of this is because, this is the basis of my question. relationships involved and you still want cooperation. david: read the national security strategy and the defense strategy, they make the case that we still need to maintain presence. >> larry? >> larry, -- >> if you could put the microphone there? >> in 1998, the clinton ,dministration began talks about the korean peace treaty. i went to the state department for a briefing at the beginning of those talks. i asked the director of korean
affairs who presided over the meeting -- what was the thinking in the state department and the administration over how to andtiate over u.s. troops negotiating over a korean peace treaty? his answer flabbergasted me. i can quote "you have not thought much about that." me, if we go into this kind of substantive nuclear negotiation that we have been talking about today, we are going to have to think very, very clearly about that. i certainly expect either at the summit or at the beginning of talks,sequent nuclear that north korea is going to press for early agreements and commitments from the u.s. to start a process of limiting the
operations and exercises of u.s. forces in south korea and offshore of south korea. that is going to raise the question, perhaps as early as the summit, subsequently certainly -- what should our response be to that? do we agree to that? or do we basically tell the north, there will have to be taken in terms of agreements and implementation regarding denuclearization before we could begin to talk about u.s. troops? or, you might say, u.s. troops are off the table completely in a denuclearization negotiation? what kind of thinking do you think we should be doing about this?
i think this is very crucial. >> chris hill -- >> chris hill has related that he was told throughout the talks, you americans eventually are going to have to come to terms with the issue of u.s. troops with us. that time is about here. as a military person, i don't think we can sacrifice readiness. we have to maintain the rok military capabilities. inould not make any changes u.s. for status contingent on north korea's nuclear status, and on the dismantlement, but they could be discussed as part of confidence building measures for conventional forces. you really get at the fundamental dilemma, really almost a gamble -- do you trust
north korea to not attack the south, so that you can withdraw u.s. forces? that is really what you are asking to do. because i think we all know and 1997, thek to defection, the reason nor. reinstated hostilities is because of u.s. presence. they could not win a war. the united states was supporting rok. our deterrence works. lawrence friedman says deterrence works until it doesn't. but it has worked. forceshdrawal of u.s. has to be contingent on their not being a serious threat to the rok. from my military perspective, as
long as north korea presents a threat to the rok, we can change u.s. forces, develop other capabilities but we cannot break the alliance. i think we need to maintain the right kind of presence, as long as there is a threat from the north. i would not trade away that presence for dismantlement of nuclear weapons because that could leave south korea extremely vulnerable to north korea's conventional military, and an attack. frank: my recollection -- >> [indiscernible] frank: my recollection of the talks in geneva -- it basically fell apart because one of the issues was, the issue of withdrawal of u.s. forces. i agree with dave. minds ong, i am of two this.
when do we lay on the table everything we are willing to concede? that has been missing in discussion in the media but also internally from the people i talked to. we're always thinking about what we need to get north korea to declare or be willing to give up and we are less willing to talk about what the u.s. side is willing to concede. worthwhile to lay out everything we are willing to consider, perhaps even including modification to force presence, to exercises. again, this is contingent upon steps north korea will take. some people see a disadvantage to that. i feel like north korea needs to know what they may ultimately get in return for steps they take. >> we only have five minutes left. i will take two last questions.
john, here in the back. >> john, the korean times. rok forces could defeat north korea on its own if there was another attack? >> the gentleman here and then the next to last row, waiting patiently for a while. where we to withdraw forces from the korean peninsula, what would be the impact in the event of a war with china? to isolate that issue, let's suppose the koreas are a unified korea opted to remain neutral in the case of such a war? my professional military judgment is that south korea would defeat north korea in any war. the problem is the cost in blood and treasure will be immense. we don't want to see that
happen. we don't want to see another war north and south, or another war that has the alliance against the north. i believe it is the alliance that gives us the best chance to deter war. if there are no forces on the korean peninsula, i have no doubt that the south korean military is capable and they will prevail. the koreans living in the south and the entire region will suffer immensely if there is war. >> are you talking only in defense of a conventional war? david: even in a nuclear war. think, north, -- i korea will be less inclined to use nuclear weapons if there are no external forces. the use of nuclear weapons by north korea in a war is going to be to deny access to basis for
reinforcing forces, weather in south korea or the seven you and bases in japan. those of the most -- whether in south korea or the seven u.s. bases in japan. north korea would believe they would want to ca bite a conventional war and not use nuclear weapons -- they would want to fight a conventional war and not use nuclear weapons. frank: it is a very horrific scenario. there are so many variables involved. forces -- depending where they go, what type of war, what the alliance relationship is, it is a difficult question. david: whoever said the first rule of war fighting is don't fight a land war on the asian landmass --?
we are already violating that in korea but i do not want to see a war with china on the asian landmass. >> we have a couple minutes. one last question. >> the gentleman here in the front. -- my name is todd wiggins, good afternoon. i would like to end with a positive note. can we do that? 20 years for our kids to grow up and so on, in a certain time, there is some type of amicable developed a relationship between north and south korea, foreseeable that there might be one government and a leader that both the u.s. and chinese can agree on. let's say that does happen. i am hoping the price of samsung phones does not increase too much.
can you imagine that scenario where we stay parked and nothing bad happens and we end up benefiting mutually? david: i think that is what we should be striving for. in 2009, the joint vision statement between president lee and president obama, reaffirmed by president park and president obama, and president moon said in their statement, the ultimate goal is peaceful unification. ae ideal situation would be unified peninsula secure, stable, nonnuclear, unified under a liberal constitutional form of government determined by the korean people. it might sound something like a united republic of korea or uro k. that is something we should be striving for. that would be the solution to the problem. a peaceful unification.
it is just so hard to achieve. frank: if you had that ce,uation, relative pea you would hear growing calls within south korea, the u.s., china about withdrawal of forces. there are different permutations, the current scenario, it could be mid-level forces similar to what we haven't different european countries, it could be a rotational -- what we had in different european countries, it could be rotational, like thailand or singapore. ande are different versions permutations of what presence could look like depending on the environment and the mission required. >> on that note. this has been a great conversation. thank you both. join me in thanking frank and dave. thank you. [applause]
>> more on korea coming up live at 2:00 eastern with a four of with indications for future relations. that will be live on c-span.org or you can listen live using our c-span radio app. later, a conversation with heather wilson on strengthening u.s. alliances and how to prepare the air force for future battles and victories. live coverage from the atlantic council starts at 3:00 p.m. eastern on future ofrum race relations in the u.s. several university scholars and advocacy groups will take part, hosted by arena stage and washington, d.c.
we will have that on our website app.the radio out -- radio >> watch at our live coverage of the utah senate debate with micro -- with mitt romney tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, at c-span.org or listen free on the c-span radio app. make c-span your primary source for campaign 2018. >> commencement speeches all this week in prime time. eastern, the p.m. me too founder, terrance clung -- clarence thomas and nikki haley. wednesday, hillary clinton, rex tillerson, james mattis, and justin trudeau. cook, john kasich, kate brown, and luis gutierrez.
on friday, jimmy carter, betsy and keisha meadows, lance bottoms. on c-span this week, on c-span.org and the c-span radio app. jeff jesus talked about founding amazon, the future of the company and its purchase of "the washington post" and artificial intelligence and space travel. the forum was hosted by george w. bush center leadership format southern methodist university in dallas. this is an hour. >> jeff, welcome to dallas. i am excited for you to see a city that really wants you here, right guys?