Special Report: Potential Sources of Opposition to a U.S. Troop Withdrawal from South Korea

Author: Larry Niksch[i]

PDF Version

April 2019

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his Republic of Korea counterpart, Army Gen. Lee Soon-Jin, perform a pass in review during an honor guard ceremony at the Joint Chiefs of Staff headquarters, Daejeon, Republic of Korea, November 1, 2015. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro.

Within the past year, President Trump has stated several times that he would like to withdraw U.S. troops from South Korea. His statements have been vague, not specifying when or how many troops he would withdraw. In an interview with CBS News on February 3, 2019, the President stated that he had “no plans” to withdraw troops from South Korea, but added that keeping troops there was “very expensive.”1 The President, in the recent past, has criticized South Korea for providing what he views as insufficient financial support for U.S. troops in South Korea.2 Earlier reports in 2018 indicated that, in private discussions, the President had repeatedly questioned the strategic necessity of keeping U.S. troops in South Korea.3


Presidential Powers as Commander-in-Chief

The U.S. Constitution designates the President as Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces. However, it says nothing about his power to deploy and withdraw American military forces from overseas missions. Since the early days of the United States, Presidents have acted as Commander-in-Chief to order U.S. military personnel into overseas missions and to order their withdrawal from such assignments. They have often issued such orders even though the U.S. Congress had not declared war against foreign powers into whose territories the President sent troops.

Since World War II, there have been many long-standing presidential orders for American troops to be deployed and stationed in foreign countries. Some of these deployments have been in accord with defense treaties the United States has entered into with foreign allies. With these deployments, Presidents repeatedly have directed changes in the size and structure of U.S. forces overseas.


Presidential Actions Affecting U.S. Troops in Korea

President Truman’s order of June 1950 for U.S. troops to enter South Korea to repel North Korea’s invasion was a dramatic example of presidential powers as Commander-in-Chief, especially since there had been no U.S. declaration of war against North Korea and no congressional authorization for the use of force. There were approximately 327,000 U.S. service members in South Korea in June 1953, shortly before the July 1953 signing of the Korean armistice. From 1953 to 2018, there have been three significant presidential decisions affecting U.S. troop levels. In the second half of the 1950s, President Eisenhower ordered major reductions in U.S. forces down to the level of 55,000 by 1960. President Nixon withdrew the 7th Infantry Division from South Korea in 1971, reducing U.S. troop strength to just above 40,000. He acted in accordance with the “Nixon Doctrine,” which emphasized that U.S. troop commitments to allied countries would be reduced as those allies built up their own armed forces.

The next major withdrawal came under President George W. Bush in 2004, as he ordered the dispatch of some 12,000 U.S. troops in South Korea to Iraq. This withdrawal included major elements of the Second Infantry Division, the last remaining U.S. Army combat division in South Korea. President Bush’s order reduced U.S. troop strength to about 28,000, where it stands today.

The troop reductions from South Korea are not unique. Over the years, U.S. presidents have also issued numerous orders that have reduced substantially the U.S. troop level in Western Europe. In 1962, the U.S. had 274,000 troops stationed in Germany; in 2016, there were 35,000 U.S. troops stationed there and 54,000 in all of Europe.

Source: Defense Manpower Data Center4

Congress’s Role in Overseas Troops Deployments and Levels: Past and Present

In general, Congress has been cautious about interfering with presidential decisions regarding military force commitments and levels overseas. However, there have been important exceptions to this caution. One exception came during the Vietnam War in the form of several bills aimed at reducing U.S. troop levels in Vietnam or restricting U.S. military operations in the region. Several proposals to withdraw all U.S. troops from Vietnam received a vote, but did not become law. However, in 1971 Congress passed legislation prohibiting the re-introduction of U.S. ground troops to Cambodia, and in 1973 prohibited the expenditure of appropriations for new deployments of U.S. troops to Vietnam and any new U.S. military operations in, over, or offshore of Indochina. These were the first instances of Congress using its control over federal expenditures to limit presidential decision-making regarding U.S. military deployments and operations overseas.5 In the same period, Senator Mike Mansfield proposed legislation to reduce U.S. troop strength in Europe by 50 percent. The Senate voted on his amendment and rejected it.

Congress has weighed in on overseas troop deployments more recently, as well. In February 2019, the Senate passed a resolution criticizing President Trump for his surprise announcement in December 2018 that he was ordering the total withdrawal of the approximately 2,500 U.S. troops in Syria.6 This contingent has been in eastern Syria for about five years, supporting Syrian Kurdish forces in their campaign against ISIS. The Senate’s opposition to a total withdrawal came after the resignation of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who strongly opposed the President’s announcement. Secretary Mattis’ resignation appeared to strengthen voices within the military and among civilian national security officials arguing against a total withdrawal. After the Senate resolution, President Trump rescinded his total withdrawal decision and announced that 400-500 U.S. troops would remain in Syria indefinitely. President Trump’s earlier expressed desire to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan was also modified in practice by similar sentiments expressed by the military and Congress.

Additionally, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the NATO Support Act in January 2019. (The Senate has not yet acted on this bill.) The bill prohibits the use of appropriations or funds to withdraw the United States from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It states that Congress rejects any efforts to withdraw the United States from NATO or indirectly withdraw by reducing contributions to NATO structures, activities, or operations.

Congress has also recently stepped directly into the issue of U.S. troop levels in South Korea. Section 1264 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019 states that none of the funding it authorizes may be used to reduce the number of U.S. troops in South Korea below 22,000 unless the Secretary of Defense certifies to congressional defense committees that:

(1) a reduction is in the U.S. national security interest and “will not significantly undermine the security of United States allies in the region”; and

(2) the Secretary of Defense has consulted with U.S. allies, including South Korea and Japan, regarding such a reduction in the troop level.

Additionally, Section 1265 of the NDAA specifies that the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to Congressional defense committees regular reports and updates on the scale and operational status of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. These reports, in effect, would require additional justification for a U.S. troop withdrawal below 22,000.


Sources of Opposition: The Case of President Carter’s Proposed Korea Troop Withdrawal

Jimmy Carter assumed the presidency in January 1977 after campaigning on a pledge to withdraw U.S. ground troops from South Korea. His intention was to withdraw the entire Second Infantry Division, its supporting units, and major components of the U.S. Army Command in South Korea. As a candidate and as President, Carter contended that U.S. ground troops no longer were necessary for the defense of South Korea; that the Vietnam War had shown that the United States had unwisely overcommitted militarily in East Asia; and that the South Korean Government’s poor human rights record justified a reduction in the U.S. military presence in South Korea.

Upon taking office, President Carter moved quickly to codify and implement his plan. He had reason to believe that the large, incoming Democratic majorities in 1977 in both chambers of Congress would support him on the issue, given the recent Congressional passage of legislation that restricted further U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. Furthermore, key committees in the House and Senate had been investigating and were becoming more critical of the human rights records of key U.S. allies including South Korea. A 1976 scandal dubbed “Koreagate,” in which agents of the South Korean Government reportedly attempted to bribe certain members of Congress, further damaged the Park Chung-hee regime’s reputation on Capitol Hill.

Upon taking office, President Carter quickly ordered a troop withdrawal to become official policy. In early May 1977, he signed a top-secret order containing a timetable for withdrawing the Second Infantry Division: 6,000 troops would be withdrawn by the end of 1978, and at least 9,000 withdrawn by the end of June 1980.7

However, the U.S. military command in Korea was opposed to the withdrawal plan, with some military leaders expressing their skepticism openly and others in ways more subtle. General John Singlaub, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Military Command in Korea, publicly expressed direct opposition to the policy, leading to his dismissal. Other military leaders including General John Vessey, Commander of U.S. Forces Korea, also voiced reservations about withdrawing ground forces. This attracted skeptics in Congress, centered particularly in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Armed Services Committee. Members of these committees and other Members increased visits to South Korea for meetings with U.S. military officials, and invited key military commanders to testify before their committees.

In 1977, two Congressional reports bolstered opposition to President Carter’s plan. The first, by Democratic Senators Hubert Humphrey and John Glenn of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reported a shift in the military balance in Korea in North Korea’s favor – “a definite advantage for the North in 1977.”8 (As a highly-decorated air combat pilot during the Korean War, Senator Glenn was deeply invested in the issue – a key aide told the author at the time that “Senator Glenn will go to the wall with Carter” over the planned troop withdrawal.) A second report by the House Armed Services Committee concluded that “the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division is needed for adequate defense” of South Korea.9 Samuel Stratton, a high-ranking Democratic member of the Committee with an extensive military background, spearheaded that report as well as key Committee hearings on the topic.

The Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1978 placed this opposition in legislation, asserting that Congress should have a direct role in decisions regarding U.S. troop levels. It provided that U.S. policy toward Korea “should continue to be arrived at by joint decision of the President and the Congress” and “that implementation of a phased reduction of U.S. ground troops should be consistent with United States interests in Asia, notably Japan, and with the security interests of the Republic of Korea.”10

Amidst all of this congressional action, these Members of Congress used access to the media extensively to publicize their growing opposition to President Carter. This apparently had an effect on public opinion: As early as July 1977, a CBS poll showed that 52 percent of the public opposed the withdrawal of U.S. ground forces.11

Key national security officials within the Carter Administration also developed strong reservations about the withdrawal plan, including Morton Abramowitz, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security; Richard Holbrooke, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia; and Michael Armacost, Director for East Asia in the National Security Council. President Carter had made his troop withdrawal plan official with little prior consultation with these experts. Beginning in 1977, this group met frequently, becoming a source of internal opposition to the troop withdrawal policy within the Administration.12

Reinforcing opposition within all these groups were evaluations emerging from U.S. intelligence agencies that North Korean military strength was considerably higher than had been previously estimated. A May 1978 Defense Intelligence Agency report, requested by General Vessey, sharply increased the estimated size and weaponry of the North Korean armed forces. A National Intelligence Estimate publicized in the spring of 1979, coordinated by the Central Intelligence Agency but representing the majority view of the entire U.S. intelligence community, also estimated that North Korea possessed much greater military strength than previously estimated.13

The intelligence reports had the effect of a deathblow to President Carter’s troop withdrawal plan. The President found himself isolated with little support from the key national security institutions in Washington, even within his own Administration. In July 1979, the White House announced that the President had suspended the withdrawal plan. Years after leaving office, President Carter wrote “I was somewhat skeptical of intelligence reports that North Korea had doubled the size of its military within a few years, but had no way to disprove them.”14


Lessons from the Carter Troop Withdrawal Controversy

The failure of the Carter plan to withdraw U.S. ground forces was the result of a wide variety of tactics employed by four elements of the U.S. Government: the U.S. military leadership, especially in South Korea; Congress; national security officials in the Executive Branch; and the U.S. intelligence agencies. A major tactic was open public dissent or expressions of reservations about the consequences of removing U.S. ground forces from South Korea. These public expressions came from U.S. military commanders in Korea and key Members of Congress, in media interviews and in congressional hearings. Numerous private meetings among U.S. commanders, members of Congress and their staff, and even Carter Administration officials reinforced the influence of each group’s views on the other groups. This increasingly formed a united opposition to the withdrawal plan.

The reports of the Senate Foreign Relations and House Armed Services committees gave official status to the opposition. The Korea clauses of the Senate Foreign Relations Authorization Act added to this and suggested to Carter Administration officials that opposition in Congress was strengthening and that Congress would act legislatively to block the withdrawal. That may have given impetus to the opposition that developed among the key Carter Administration national security officials mentioned above.

All of this influenced the decisions of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency to carry out new estimates of North Korean military strength. The DIA’s 1978 report also demonstrated that the initiative for undertaking a re-assessment of the military balance on the Korean Peninsula came from within the U.S. Army, specifically General Vessey. Such an internal Defense Department assessment is, presumably, relatively immune from direct White House interference.

The DIA report and the congressional reaction to it led a reluctant President Carter to authorize the comprehensive National Intelligence Estimate of 1979, which confirmed many of the DIA’s findings and was final blow to the President’s troop withdrawal plan.

The formidable nature of the opposition that arose was due, first, to President Carter’s rush to make his troop withdrawal policy official immediately upon taking office in January 1977. Within a week of his inauguration, he ordered national security officials to review U.S. policy toward Korea, but specified that the review of the U.S. military presence should focus on how to withdraw troops from South Korea, not whether troops should be withdrawn.15 On March 5, he stated bluntly to his Secretary of State and National Security Adviser that “American forces will be withdrawn.”16 In short, Carter made no effort to consult with his top national security advisers, military leaders, and U.S. commanders in South Korea before making a final decision on his troop withdrawal policy. This clearly triggered the negative reaction among all of these factions, which was apparent by the summer of 1977.


Implications for Troop Withdrawal Decisions Today

A presidential directive for a substantial withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea in the near future would likely encounter many of the same types of opposition that President Carter encountered. President Trump has not similarly provided a clear directive on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea, but if such a decision were made, the 2019 NDAA has already set forth provisions that go beyond the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY 1978 that sought to restrain President Carter’s plan. These provisions could potentially mobilize the same elements of the U.S. Government that opposed President Carter’s withdrawal plan: the Congress, the U.S. military leadership including U.S. commanders in South Korea, top Administration national security officials, and the Congress.

The NDAA’s specification that the Secretary of Defense certify to Congress that a sizeable troop withdrawal would not jeopardize the security interests of the United States and key allies limits the potential power of the President by giving specific responsibility to the Defense Department and thus to the U.S. military leadership. It signifies that the Secretary of Defense and the U.S. military leadership should exercise independent judgment. Additionally, the reports on North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs required by the law would bring the U.S. intelligence agencies directly into another troop withdrawal issue. Intelligence reports under the NDAA will likely conclude that North Korea continues to produce more nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and thus presents an increasingly direct threat to the United States.17 Like the DIA Estimate of 1978 and the National Intelligence Estimate of 1979, although these intelligence reports will be classified, the substance of their findings will likely be publicized, especially if the reports were issued amidst an attempt to withdraw a considerable number of U.S. troops from South Korea.

The NDAA’s prohibition of appropriated funds for removing troops from South Korea below a specified level is a powerful tool for opponents of a potential U.S. troop withdrawal. Any sizeable withdrawal of troops from South Korea would be hugely expensive, probably costing several billion dollars. The infrastructure, equipment, and weaponry of the 70-year American military presence in South Korea is vast. Some of this could be left with the South Koreans, but much of it would have to be removed and brought back to the United States or to U.S. bases in other countries. Without specific money appropriated for this purpose, the U.S. military could not do it.

The FY2019 NDAA covers only one fiscal year. A sustained congressional cutoff of funds, covering several years with similar provisions to the current NDAA, would send the strongest possible message to the President of the depth of congressional opposition. It probably would increase outright opposition to withdrawals in the U.S. military and within civilian national security officials. The news media would give it high attention. Like President Carter, the U.S. President could find himself or herself isolated politically. Moreover, it would encourage South Korean and Japanese criticism of a troop withdrawal plan, and it would dissuade them from immediate, drastic reactions like considering the development of nuclear weapons.

However, a prohibition on spending congressional appropriations for a major troop withdrawal could also have disadvantages, limits, and unintended consequences. Because the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 is legal for only one year, new restrictions on funding for U.S. troop withdrawal from Korea would have to be legislated for fiscal year 2020 and possibly beyond. A fund cutoff could also prevent the President from ordering military units from South Korea to other theaters of greater danger or actual combat: the Senkaku Islands, Taiwan, the South China Sea, or the Middle East. If the military situation in a conflict in one of these locales demanded an immediate commitment of U.S. military forces from South Korea (especially air power), the President’s ability to act could be restricted by a spending prohibition that was too rigid. The current NDAA appears to contain some flexibility to meet these contingencies, since it would allow withdrawals from the present level of about 28,000 down to 22,000. However, any withdrawal of all U.S. combat air power from South Korea probably would bring the U.S. troop level down below 20,000.

President Trump also faces four potential issues regarding the future disposition of U.S. troops in Korea that do not have parallels with the Carter administration: the suspension of major U.S.-ROK joint military exercises; ongoing U.S. negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear program; tensions within the U.S.-ROK alliance regarding burden-sharing; and warming inter-Korean relations.

First, President Trump has terminated the major joint military exercises between U.S. Forces Korea and the ROK military. Moreover, this has curtailed regular rotations into South Korea of U.S. air and naval units from outside Korea for training with U.S. forces in country. If major exercises remain suspended and force rotations remain curtailed, the question becomes: would this inevitably lower the military readiness of U.S. Army forces and U.S. Air Force combat units in South Korea? If the suspension did affect military readiness adversely, sentiment within the U.S. Army and Air Force leaderships could develop over time in favor of withdrawing units of the Second Infantry Division and Air Force combat squadrons to other locations where they could train.

Support for withdrawing some or all U.S. troops from South Korea could also increase if the current atmosphere of d├ętente with North Korea remains in place and negotiations on rolling back Pyongyang’s nuclear program make progress. Although a continuation of high-level diplomatic engagement is uncertain (as shown by the recent inconclusive Hanoi summit), if its persists beyond 2020, there might develop within Congress, the two political parties, the media, and the American people more support for substantially lowering the U.S. force level in South Korea. This would not necessarily mean support for a total withdrawal, but it could open up the political space for a substantial reduction from the current 28,000.

While the discussion of such a preference for withdrawing troops from abroad currently focuses on President Trump, there is growing sentiment on both the political left and right in the United States in favor of a more restrained foreign policy and a smaller global military presence.18 For example, none of the 2020 presidential candidates in the U.S. Senate voted for the resolution criticizing President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Several of the leading Democratic presidential candidates have also been long skeptical of foreign military entanglements.19 On the other hand, no Democrats in the House opposed the legislation to prohibit a U.S. withdrawal from NATO, and polling suggests that a slight majority of Americans currently favor maintaining ground troops in South Korea even if North Korea abandons its nuclear program.20

President Donald Trump greets General Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. Force Korea, after landing at Osan Air Base in South Korea, November 7, 2017. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Echols III.

A third issue that might spur President Trump to order a withdrawal of U.S. troops is South Korean host nation financial support for the cost of maintaining U.S. troops in the country. For the last decade, under five-year host nation support agreements, South Korea has paid about $800 million annually to support U.S. troops, over 40 percent of the total cost. Since the mid-2000s, U.S. Defense Department officials have called on South Korea to increase its percentage to over 50 percent.

President Trump has raised the host nation financial support issue with U.S. allies to the presidential level. He has demanded that allies significantly increase their share of the cost of U.S. forces in their countries. In reportedly difficult negotiations for a new host national support agreement in 2018, the Trump Administration pressed the Moon Jae-in Administration to double South Korea’s annual contribution to $1.6 billion. A Special Measures Agreement reached in February 2019 will raise South Korea’s payment to about $920 million.21

However, the agreement is only for one year instead of the standard five-year agreement. Thus, another tense negotiation is likely in the second half of 2019. The Trump Administration reportedly plans to escalate pressure on U.S. allies over the financial support issue.22 This raises the possibility that the President could link new financial support demands on South Korea with a threat to reduce U.S. force levels – if he should adopt this linkage, it would open up a new issue for Congress to consider in weighing its position on the troop withdrawal issue.

A final factor that could shape the political dynamics of a prospective U.S. troop withdrawal from South Korea is the attitude of the South Korean Government. President Moon Jae-in and his ruling coalition are committed strongly to relaxing tensions between South and North Korea and restarting inter-Korean economic initiatives that are currently blocked by UN sanctions. Although polling suggests that over two-thirds of South Koreans support a U.S. troop presence in the country in the future, several key members of Moon’s ruling coalition have questioned the need for a long-term U.S. military presence if a peace treaty with the North is signed.23

Additionally, President Moon has called for South Korea, the United States, and North Korea to issue a peace declaration officially ending the Korean War. If such a declaration is adopted, it would be legally non-binding but could lead to pressure from North Korea for South Korea to agree to the termination of the United Nations Command (UNC). The UNC was established in early July 1950 under U.S. leadership to oppose North Korea’s invasion of South Korea, and today is part of the legal structure for the U.S. military presence in South Korea, as per the terms of the 1953 Armistice Agreement. Some elements of Moon’s coalition might favor a termination of the UNC in conjunction with a peace declaration. Termination would eliminate an important (though not the sole) legal justification for the U.S. troop presence. It could open a broader debate in South Korea over the necessity of a U.S. military presence, especially if President Moon’s engagement policy toward North Korea appeared to be bearing success.24

U.S. officials long have stated that if the ROK Government wanted the United States to withdraw troops from South Korea, the United States would comply. In such a scenario, there would likely be little direct opposition to withdrawal within Congress and other U.S. institutions. The U.S. withdrawal from its huge military bases in the Philippines in 1992 is a case in point.

Whether these limitations on U.S. opposition to troop withdrawals would grow in the future depends in large part on the outcome of the current Trump and Moon overtures to North Korea for improved relations. It these overtures should collapse in the face of renewed North Korean hostility, including failure to achieve denuclearization, opposition to troop withdrawals likely would remain strong.


Another Option: A Direct Congressional Role in Maintaining the U.S.-R.O.K. Mutual Defense Treaty

In addition to the United Nations Command, the legality of the U.S. military presence in South Korea resides in the U.S.-Republic of Korea Mutual Defense Treaty. It provides that each country will support the other if one is subject to armed attack by a third party. It also provides that, by mutual agreement, the United States can maintain military forces and bases in South Korea. The treaty was signed in 1953, following the close of the Korean War and subsequently ratified by the U.S. Senate.

The U.S. Constitution gives the President the power to make treaties with other states. It gives the Senate the authority to ratify treaties, thus giving them legal status. But the Constitution says nothing about the respective powers of the President and the Senate in the termination of a treaty with a foreign country. In the history of terminations of U.S. treaties, the roles of the President and Senate have varied. After World War II, the trend has been toward the President having unilateral power to terminate a treaty. However, the Senate has challenged this in several cases, including President Carter’s termination of the mutual defense treaty with Taiwan.25

There appears to be no case, however, in which prior to a presidential termination of a treaty, the Senate or the House has legislated that Congress must approve the termination of that treaty. Such an act by Congress, no doubt, would be subject to legal challenge in federal courts, possibly the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, the vague legal status would appear to give the Senate and House an option to pass legislation that would require congressional approval of a presidential notification of intent to terminate the U.S.-Republic of Korea Mutual Defense Treaty. (The Treaty itself specifies only that either party may give notification of termination one year before actual termination.) The recent House-passed NATO Support Act could serve as a model for any future legislative initiative to support the U.S.-South Korean Mutual Defense Treaty.

This kind of legislation would bring a higher level of public attention to the U.S. defense commitment to South Korea, which could influence presidential decision-making. It would send another strong signal to the U.S. President that Congress likely would oppose extreme action by the President to reduce U.S. troops in South Korea or lessen the U.S. defense commitment.



The outcome of the Carter troop withdrawal episode and outcomes of current prospective troop withdrawal issues should caution any President against hasty, unilateral decisions for extensive troop withdrawals from South Korea. Prior consultations with the U.S. military and key congressional committees will be needed to ensure that a troop withdrawal policy is justified militarily and would command broad support within the U.S. Government. A President also would need to discuss troop withdrawal proposals with the key national security officials within the Administration. Troop withdrawals may be justified or even required in the future; the current troop level of 28,000 is not set in concrete. But any major withdrawal should be the product of a broad U.S. Government consensus rather than a hasty, unilateral presidential decision.


About the Author

Larry Niksch is a former Specialist in Asian Affairs with the Congressional Research Service. He currently is a Fellow with the Institute for Corean-American Studies and a Senior Associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The views expressed are his own and do not represent the views of the organizations cited above or of the National Committee on North Korea.



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  • 3. Josh Rogin, “Trump Still Holds Jimmy Carter’s View on Withdrawing U.S. troops from South Korea,” Washington Post, June 7, 2018.
  • 4. DMDC data for 1950-2005 is compiled in Tim Kane, “Global U.S. Troop Deployment, 1950-2005” The Heritage Foundation, May 24, 2006, https://www.heritage.org/defense/report/global-us-troop-deployment-1950-...
  • 5. Amy Belasco, Lynn J. Cunningham, Hannah Fischer, and Larry A. Niksch, “Congressional Restrictions on U.S. Military Operations in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Somalia, and Kosovo: Funding and Non-Funding Approaches,” Congressional Research Service, January 16, 2007.
  • 6. Mary Clare Jalonick, “Senate Breaks with Trump on Afghanistan, Syria Withdrawal,” AP, February 4, 2019, https://www.apnews.com/0fa86263454f489fbeeb3c61363a4515
  • 7. Don Oberdorfer, The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History. Basic Books, New Ed edition, 1999, pp. 90-91.
  • 8. Humbert H. Humphrey and John Glenn, US Troop Withdrawal from the Republic of Korea: A Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations (Government Printing Office, 1978).
  • 9. House Committee on Armed Services, Review of the Policy Decision to Withdraw United States Ground Forces from Korea, Report prepared by Samuel S. Stratton, Chairman of the Investigations Subcommittee, 9th Congress, 2nd Session, April 26, 1978 (Government Printing Office, 1978).
  • 10. “Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 1978,” Public Law 95-105, August 17, 1977, Section 512.
  • 11. Tae Hwan Ok, “President Carter’s Korean Withdrawal Policy,” Loyola University Chicago Dissertation (1989), pp. 175-179.
  • 12. “Interview with the Honorable Morton J. Abramowitz, 2011,” Interview conducted by Thomas Stern, The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, Foreign Affairs Oral History Project, Library of Congress, Initial interview date April 10, 2007, https://cdn.loc.gov/service/mss/mfdip/2011/2011abr01/2011abr01.pdf
  • 13. Joe Wood, “Persuading a President: Jimmy Carter and American Troops in Korea,” National Security Archives, https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//NSAEBB/NSAEBB431/docs/intell_ebb_002.PDF
  • 14. Jimmy Carter, White House Diary (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), p. 280. For additional readings about the Carter troop withdrawal controversy, see Franz-Stephen Gady, “How the ‘Deep State’ Stopped a US president from withdrawing US troops from Korea,” The Diplomat, June 15, 2018, https://thediplomat.com/2018/06/how-the-deep-state-stopped-a-us-presiden... Eric B. Setzekorn, “Policy Revolt: Army Opposition to the Korea Withdrawal Plan,” Parameters, Vol. 48, No. 3 (Autumn 2018); Clint Work, “US troops in Korea: From History’s Vantage Point, 38 North, May 8, 2018, https://www.38north.org/2018/05/cwork050818/; and William H. Gleysteen, Jr., Massive Entanglement, Marginal Influence: Carter and Korea in Crisis (Brookings Institution Press, 2000). See also Larry Niksch, “U.S. Troop Withdrawal from South Korea: Past Shortcomings and Future Prospects,” Asian Survey, Vol. 21, No. 3 (March 1981), pp. 325-241.
  • 15. Oberdorfer, op. cit., p. 87.
  • 16. Ibid., p. 88.
  • 17. Timothy W. Martin and Andrew Jeong, “North Korea Keeps Stockpiling Materials to Make Nuclear Weapons, Report Finds,” Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2019.
  • 18. Stephen Wertheim, “A Clash is Coming over America’s Place in the World,” New York Times, February 26, 2019.
  • 19. Katrina Vanden Heuvel, “A Bold New Realism on Security,” Washington Post, March 6, 2019.
  • 20. Karl Friedhoff, Lily Wojtowicz, and Dina Smeltz, “American and South Korean Publics Doubtful about Success of Talks with North Korea,” The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, February 19, 2019, https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/publication/american-and-south-korean-....
  • 21. Simon Denyer and Min Joo Kim, “U.S., Seoul Reach Stopgap Troop Deal,” Washington Post, February 11, 2019.
  • 22. John Hudson et al., “Trump Invokes New Demand for Extracting Billions of Dollars from U.S. Allies,” Washington Post, March 9, 2019.
  • 23. Scott Snyder et al., “South Korean Attitudes Toward the U.S.-ROK Alliance and USFK,” Asan Institute for Policy Studies, Issue Brief 2019-04, February 22, 2019, http://en.asaninst.org/contents/south-korean-attitudes-toward-the-u-s-ro... Jonathan Cheng and Andrew Jeong, “U.S. Troops in South Korea Emerge as Potential Bargaining Chip,” The Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2018.
  • 24. For competing perspectives, see Bruce Klingner, “U.S. Should Not Sign a Peace Declaration with North Korea,” Heritage Foundation Report, September 18, 2018, https://www.heritage.org/asia/report/us-should-not-sign-peace-declaratio... and S. Nathan Park, “The U.S. Can Afford a Peace Deal in Korea,” Foreign Policy, February 26, 2019, https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/02/26/the-u-s-can-afford-a-peace-deal-in-...
  • 25. Stephen P. Mulligan, “International Law and Agreements: Their Effect upon U.S. Law,” Congressional Research Service Report, 2018.