George W. Bush has a new plan to withdraw a large number troops from Germany and South Korea and deploy them elsewhere including in the United States. The Bush plan would withdraw one-third of American troops from South Korea. North Korea has long demanded that the U.S. withdraw troops from South Korea. Therefore, announcing the withdrawal of the troops from South Korea without negotiating for concessions seems like a big mistake.
If the Bush team had not named South Korea as a target of troop reduction, it might have been able to negotiate for a concession from North Korea in return for reducing troop strength even though the withdrawal had been planned. As it stands, Kim Jong Il makes no concessions, but gets something he's long wanted if the troop withdrawal occurs.
I wish I'd spotted this flaw in the Bush plan's announcement of reducing troops in South Korea, but I didn't. Instead I read about it in the lead editorial in yesterday's Washington Post. I'm actually involved in negotiations from time to time and really felt dumb for not thinking of this angle when I read the Post editorial. I wonder if Bush and his advisers feel likewise.