With South Korea in economic crisis last fall, the Clinton administration backed the International Monetary Fund-led bailout of Seoul. But when Congress resisted pleas to vote the IMF more funds, the administration turned to national security arguments. Contended Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin: “there are still enormous security concerns for the United States” in Korea. Defense Secretary William Cohen made much the same argument: “If we don’t lead on economic issues, we won’t be able to lead on other issues,” such as security.
In short, it is not enough for Washington to maintain its nearly fifty year-old security umbrella for South Korea, relieving that nation of the financial burden of defending itself. The United States must provide economic aid to South Korea to sustain the security umbrella. The Republic of Korea (ROK) has turned into a double black hole for Washington.