The United States should take a back seat to China and South Korea when it comes to applying pressure on North Korea, according to an influential, retired U.S. general.
“We could probably do a substantial amount of solving the problems of North Korea if we would let South Korea and China work the problem,” said retired Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, who retired last year as the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Cartwright’s comments came during a June 26 presentation at an event sponsored by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
“Once you start to introduce commerce, risk equations change substantially,” he said, noting both China and South Korea have built roads and rail lines up to the North Korean border.
“But as long as we’re there, it looks like a wartime footing. We’ve just got to think our way through how to do this,” he said.
The U.S. has about 28,000 troops based on the Korean Peninsula.
Cartwright, who since his retirement has been outspoken on defense issues such as nuclear deterrence and cybersecurity, said the United States should partner with China to make sure nations in the region “are taken care of, that they have access to goods, that they can move their goods.”
“We’re better off solving these problems if we do so with China,” he said.
Cartwright said there needs to be an authoritative venue that could address nations’ claims of natural resources under the South China Sea.