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For half a century, the alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States focused on the threat from North Korea. But today, as South Korea moves toward reconciliation with the North on the basis of a strong a credible deterrence, the two countries need a strategic plan that defines shared objectives and the means for achieving them, identifies possible problems, and suggests how to deal with those problems. Such a plan would help guide current discussion on the future of the alliance and would provide a clearer vision of why we maintain the alliance and what we gain from it. It should identify a mutually agreeable approach to propose to North Korea as part of multilateral discussions. Developing such a plan will not be easy because the two governments do not view some critical issues in the same manner. But the effort to describe and explain these differences may resolve some of them and prepare the way for adjusting the U.S. military presence in Korea and creating a peace regime on the peninsula.

Originally published in: Strategic Forum, no. 197, April 2003, pp. 1-6.

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