As America enters this weekend of Thanksgiving celebration, North Korea’s recent shelling of Yeonpyeong Island (currently held by South Korea) will be widely discussed among family and friends. Thanksgiving is a U.S. holiday to commemorate help the Massachusetts based Wampanoag Native Americans in the 1600’s provided to the newly arrived European pilgrims to cultivate the land and fish, saving them from starvation. The darker truth was of course the Wampanoag being virtually wiped out by the pilgrims eventually. That darkness is still with us today, because if we pay any attention to the headlines in the U.S. in the last few days since the shelling (and killing of four South Koreans), it appears there are still many, perhaps mainly the U.S. media, who are preparing the American public for support of an eventual North Korea invasion.
As of today, November 24, 2010, this news poll by foxnews.com had 50,000+ right-leaning Americans responding to the question of “How should North Korean attack be dealt with?”
- 46.81% – Send in the military. Such aggression can’t be ignored.
- 26.65% – Engage in tough diplomacy with North Korea, with threat of military action.
- 13.35% – Get international community to condemn North Korea and impose sanctions.
Is there a surprise to the survey result when the narrative in America is uniformly “DPRK provocation?”
- Fox News: “Mullen: Korean Attack Tied to Succession“
- ABC News: “Adm. Mike Mullen: China’s Leadership Is ‘Absolutely Critical’ In North Korea; After the North’s Attack on South Korea, U.S. Pushes for China to Mediate“
- CNN: “US warships head to Yellow Sea for military drills“
- NY Times: “News Analysis: China Faces a Nettlesome Neighbor in North Korea“
- NPR: “Why Now For North Korea’s Provocation?“
Left-leaning CNN reports the same way as Fox News. Fareed Zakaria of CNN’s GPS program was interviewed by the CNN network itself, and on the question of “What’s the significance of North Korea’s actions?” he said:
I think it’s very worrying, very troubling. Combined with the sinking of that South Korean ship, it is the most provocative thing the North Koreans have done in years in terms of instigating hostilities.
The regime is unpredictable but ruthless, and we know that the South Koreans are feeling some substantial pressure to respond in some way, and then you have all the other great powers in the region watching anxiously. The whole thing has the potential to spiral out of control.
Each set of headlines in the U.S. media presumes this attack a DPRK provocation. The recurring themes for why the North Koreans attacked are leadership transition, craving attention, and madness. And, today’s “news” is China must reign North Korea in. Thus far, no words have been written to self-reflection, on actions from the U.S./ROK side that may have contributed to this attack.
If there is sincerity to the whole truth of the Thanksgiving past, then I think it is worthwhile for Americans to consider other perspectives, because as the U.S. media headlines have demonstrated along with Fox New’s polling results, it is easy to trumpet for war. I am sure the pilgrims of the 1600’s had their “rationale” too for taking the Wampanoag’s land and for decimating their population.
We should start by looking at the location of Yeonpyeon Island. Notice the disputed region between the two dotted lines in the map above. The top border was unilaterally drawn by the U.S. at the end of the Korean War. The dotted line at the bottom represents North Korea’s position. Yeonpyeon is only 7 or 8 miles from the North Korean mainland.
The other fact is that the U.S. and South Korea have been holding regular naval exercises on Yeonpyeon and over the disputed areas, and if I have to guess, practicing a North Korean invasion. Can you imagine during the Cold War the Soviet Union holding military exercises with Mexico on a regular basis? Can you imagine if the Soviets unilaterally drew a Mexican border hugging some islands within eye sight off of California and conduct such exercises there?
For more details on this perspective, I recommend this article, “Wrong country blamed for artillery exchange on Korean peninsula” written by Stephen Gowans.
Gowans may turn out to be wrong. DPRK may have attacked out of madness or any of the reasons cited so far in the U.S. media. However, to ensure that America’s hands are clean, she must not hold those exercises and push North Korea to such a brink.
From the Chinese perspective where there is distrust for America, the U.S. has fostered a perfect situation to sneak the U.S. aircraft carrier into the Yellow Sea. The U.S. battle group is within striking distance of Beijing, so that is going to put the Chinese military on heightened alert.
And, the genius of the U.S. media narrative, China is the “irresponsible party” who is propping up the “DPRK provocation” in the first place.
(To my fellow Americans, if there is at least one of you feeling your view has been broadened over this attack, please let me know. That’d make my Thanksgiving weekend.)
Same logic here-http://www.fff.org/blog/jghblog2010-11-24.asp
Thx for that link Jason. I am just so disappointed with the U.S. media. Happy Thanksgiving.
The overwhelming narrative in the U.S. press speaks of a wayward nation embarking on a continued wave of aggression. It is amazing how a society that pride free press end up with such one-sided shallow reporting. The S Koreans have admited that the N Koreans may have legitimately responded to what appears to be aggressive posturing (in the form of drills) by S Koreans . But is this reported to the American people?
With the 2 Korean incidents and the Japanese incident this year, we can all see a pattern of American allies taking an aggressive posture (S korea, Japan), pushing others, and when others do push back, the U.S. cries foul and offers some sorts of military support – here ordering big brother USS George Washington to the rescue. Will Vietnam or some other minor powers in Asia – under US tutelage – start doing the same – not just against rising China, but other nations with which it has territorial dispute? Will US miscalculate some time and drag Asia into a hot war to divert attention from its sorry domestic order?
I am sure there are many angles to what we are seeing, but this is what I think is most important: China has been able to avoid confrontation around its periphery for the last 30 years, creating a rare period of peace for it to finally develop, despite a world order that is generally anti-Chinese. But China needs peace for at least another 50 years before it can really pursue an agenda that is truly independent, before it can offer the rest of the world a real counter-balance to Western hegemony. As China strengthens, it cannot always afford to bow to Western hegemony. How China balances between cultivating an independent array of alliances that resist hegemony and complying with Western hegemony to avoid real confrontation with the West holds the key to how quickly China will rise – how quickly the world can wean itself from pax Americana hegemony.
It is not the U.S. media, actually it is the whole world’s press, except China. Even left winged newspapers in Europe (like http://www.taz.de/1/politik/asien/artikel/1/die-supermaechte-sind-ratlos/) ask for ““China must reign North Korea in”.
Of course by calling all other Asian nations US alleys, you can also call it “the American allies taking an aggressive posture”. It’s like one driving on the wrong side of the highway saying: not one is driving wrong, all are driving wrong!
I wouldn’t be surprised by the ‘Western’ media in general propagandizing the same narrative. You’ll agree that the ‘West’ does not represent the world, right? How do you explain all the media below taking a different narrative than the U.S. (and apparently the German too)?
Anyways, I am not surprised Westerners thinking they are the world and nobody else counts. That, also is what their media tell them.
“N.Korea blames South over attacks”
“North Korea says Seoul initiated firing os shells”
“President Susilo hopes two Koreas refrain from further hostilities”
“N.Korea accuses South of provoking war”
“North-South Korea tensions: Cold war legacy still a global burden”
“North Korea attacks South, new major war unfolds”
You sort of proved my point. Instead of seeing that there are different alternatives, different approaches, different ways – even to something as simple as which side of the road to drive – you see only one way – your way, the right way, the only way…
The way I see it: when there are conflicts, there are multiple versions of the story. Calling for calm, for discussion is the right approach. Calling others names – whipping out the normative card (i.e. God is on my side card) – is not the right approach.
I should add that NPR’s article did briefly touch on DPRK’s position, but it was quickly dismissed (by a supposed ‘Korea expert’):
Sneider’s argument is completely flawed. Do you declare to your neighbor that you are going to have shooting practices in front of his house and then simply claim that your exercises were “well-known.” That then absolves your responsibility when there is a shoot-out between you and your neighbor?
yinyang, thanks for your links, I read them, but frankly I did not get your point. This media reports the DPRK point of view, i.e. that they blame the South for starting, but the narrative is the same.
Example your NYT link reports: The North blamed the South for starting the exchange; the South acknowledged firing test shots in the area but denied that any had fallen in the North’s territory.
Where is the difference when the Pravda writes that “North Korea attacks South”?
What is your definition of Westerners?
To me it seems, every country except China has a very similar point of view about what happened. China simply does not write explicitly that there was an attack from North Korea, which is a fact.
Allen, you can also always say that the sun rotates around the earth…
1. You said “China simply does not write explicitly that there was an attack from North Korea, which is a fact.”
“DPRK bombs houses in ROK”
“Destruction caused by DPRK artillery shells”
The fact is the Chinese media are reporting on the facts. You apparently can’t read.
2. The NYT article paints DPRK the aggressor. The Russia article takes a neutral position and reported facts.
Did the Russia report dismiss this point? Did the NYT article dismiss this point? You should read my comment #7 above, because NPR did the exact same thing as the NYT.
What was the over-all goal of the NYT article? What was their spin? How did that compared with the Russian report?
Josef does not only not know how to read, he does not know where his ignorance begins and ends…
We are all fools in some ways. But those of us humble enough to see that can sometimes make up for some of our faults. Those who can’t even recognize even that … those are true hopless causes…
I checked (for a few minutes) china daily yesterday, as I do every day, (not the europe.china daily) and there was nothing like that mentioned. What China Daily writes is:
” The DPRK and the ROK exchanged fire on Tuesday, with both sides accusing the other of initiating the attack. “(http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-11/26/content_11611961.htm).
Thanks Allen for your very constructive and wise comment! And keep humbly telling us that the sun rotates around the earth, we all enjoy it! I am looking forward for your next “wisdom”.
My point of view is based on what I read in the media, and indeed, could be biased. So probably you can correct me with points, which I regarded as facts:
1) despite your drawing of both interpretations of the borders in your map, China recognized the islands as part of South Korea.
2) china values highly internal affairs, so if South Korea is doing exercises within the allowed region, china would not accept interference
3) China should recognize the attack from North Korea to South Korean territory.
So, how can you have a neutral point of view, saying “exchanged fire”?
South Korea fired back at the DPRK after Yeonpyeong was shelled. That’s not an “exchange” of fire? Btw, the Western media have chosen to not explore the damage and casualties of the North yet. Would you be interested in that?
China Daily reported the two parties accusing each other of initiating the attack. Isn’t that accurate?
Josef – as Allen said in #10, #6 comments above, you seriously have issues.
There are others just like you, and that’s the only reason I am responding to your comments. Make your reply count if you choose, because I am done discussing with you.
In my original post above, I referred readers to the Stephen Gowans article. I have included here for your convenience:
The North-South Korea problem can be solved. But South Korea would need to break the stalemate and have the imagination and foresight to ditch the U.S. for China.
If the South Koreans could make a deal with the Chinese and give guarantees to the effect that they would get rid of American bases, I am sure China would be more than willing to ditch the North. The outcome would be beneficial to both nations and the region. South Korea would gain a valuable ally that actually have the power to rein-in the North, while China would no-longer worry about American bases in its backyard. Accordingly, the stalemate would be broken, and there would be a good chance that the Koreas may be peacefully reunited.
As it stands, the situation is unsustainable and not in the interest of either South Korea or China. If the South Koreans are smart and if their goal is to avoid war, they would see that having a good neighbor in China is more valuable than any protection offered by their current sponsor. While the Americans also wish to avoid war, this is not an overriding concern of theirs, at least not in the same degree as China or South Korea.
I disagree with this one.
You can’t use foxnews as a measure of public opinion, most Americans are not huge fans of Fox, and you know the type of people that get their news from it. I seriously doubt there will be an invasion, SK and the US are both urging restraint. Northern casualties are not being reported because the North isn’t giving out any information. From what I’ve seen Western media IS reporting NK’s stance about being provoked first, although you are right in the sense that it isn’t put in a very serious light. For example, CNN does provide articles outlining NK’s point of view:
Furthermore, though I don’t agree with the US presence, both sides hold regular exercises in and around the disputed Northern line. Obviously the reaction from NK this time has some kind of purpose behind it, the bit about the South shooting off too close to their border is just the cover story. This whole episode will probably amount to nothing. Notice how Americans rattle off about war and throw around numbers every time some conflict happens somewhere? The whole thing is like a fetish for them.
What’s most important though is the sanctity of East Asia as a whole. One way or another, NK must be forced to pull its own weight. It is currently an embarrassment, contributing nothing but trouble. Some people might rage at me for this, but I would like to see a unified, economically powerful Korea to put another Asian voice on the global stage.
@Josef 4, 8, 12:
#12: you wrote,
You know I try, but sometimes you make it so difficult…
Let me just quickly recap: you continue to see the perspectives as black and white, with yours being right and mine wrong. You suggest that the majority of the world is against China and hence the rest of the world (in your view) must be right, and China must be wrong. But then you referenced Copernicous, which in my view actually taught the opposite: the fact that the majority of the world has believed in one thing means nothing – they can do so for a long, long time – and can still turn out wrong … as Copernicous may have taught us.
In any case, Copernicous does not stand for the proposition that there is only one perspective of reality. As any scientist will tell you, as far as science is concerned: reality exists only to the extent of theories that can make provable observations. The rest is philosophy … or worse, religion.
In this sense, the geocentric theory of the universe was neither right or wrong just as the Copernicous is neither right or wrong. At the time of Copernicious, both theries actually explained universe equally well (though one was simpler and more elegant). From a science perspective, neither is right or wrong – given the data and experiences of the time.
If you must nit-pick, the statement that the sun orbits the earth is not as wrong as you may think. If you look through the perspective of relativity , it is actually perfectly legit (and accurate) to view the earth as stationary, with the rest of the universe as traveling along a distorted time-space continuum around the earth.
Your perception that earth rotates around the sun is also not strictly right: it’s only an approximation. The earth actually does not rotate around the sun – no the earth and sun technically rotate around each other, around a weighted center of mass made of the two – or even more acurately, the rest of the Universe combined. But no worries: your approximation of reality is good enough, I won’t quarrel. But your raising an approximate world view as the truth – now that’s laughable, as laughable as saying the geocentric model stands for falsehood, and as laughable as you thinking you know the one and only truth.
A lot of people here are commited to a journey to search for new horizons. You however seem to have no interest to go anywhere beyond your own pin box.
China has been urging N Korea to develop its economy for some time now. To that extent, I agree with you. I disagree with you on the rest. Any neutral observer has to admit that the S Korea and US poses a real threat to N Korea. To deny that fact – as you have – to call N Korea reaction over-reaction or cover shows you lack of comprehension – in my view – what is going on. A unified Korea as an independent Asian power is in everyone’s interest – especially China’s – but reunification when N Korea is weak will only mean unification is on terms of a occupied satellite state of the U.S. That surely is not in the interest of China – or Asia.
I don’t see how I denied SK and US being a threat to NK, I didn’t even imply it. I didn’t say it was an overreaction either. I said it was an unusual response from the north over something that happens quite frequently. So.. yeah.
I don’t agree on South Korea being an “occupied satellite state”. I think that goes too far, and is precisely the kind of language that pushes Asia even further apart. Look at it this way, if the Koreas were unified, or if NK wasn’t such a troublemaker, what rationale would the US have to continue posting troops there? Or, what reason would South Korea have to continue hosting them? If NK wasn’t a threat, maybe even the Japanese would be more opposed to US bases. I know it’s common to label SK as a US puppet these days, but as far as I can tell their collusion with America is centered squarely around NK. The Koreans themselves grumble about US troops, it’s not a welcome thing for them. They protect themselves from Western commercial interests in favor of their own, just like Japan and China does. So let’s go easy on the whole American-lap-dog thing, it is not conducive to Asian unity.
I see the current situation with North Korea in the U.S. very much like the recent invasion of Iraq on WMD. It will be a series of “incidents”, regardless of true signance but blown to the ‘right’ proportion, that will eventually build a snowball large enough. It will then only take some catalyst to get another invasion going.
As I said, Fox News and CNN – and in fact, all the media cover this story the same way. Do you recall how ALL the U.S. media covered Iraq prior to the invasion? Was there any difference?
Furthermore, you only need to look at the comments at CNN, NPR, or where-ever to see that desire for blood.
Your exchange with Allen:
Japan and South Korea are occupied states, and they have little choice when the U.S. insist on certain issues. The Plaza Accord was an example where Japan was forced to harm herself to benefit the U.S.. The U.S. also forced Japan to give up the DRAM industry against her will. Japan was censured recently for trying to stop her Yen from further appreciation due to USD devaluing.
If the Koreas were unified, the current U.S. pattern of behavior means the troops will still be there. Your logic doesn’t hold. Japan is unified isn’t it, and why are the U.S. troops still there? The North Koreans are absolutely zero threat to the U.S. The U.S. could completely destroy North Korea with or without U.S. troop presence in South Korea or Japan.
Furthermore, the U.S. is in fact attempting to inject even more bases around the globe.
This may seem like a catch-22. We all agree a less ‘threatening’ North Korea is key to Asia normalizing. But who do you think is propagandizing a ‘threatening’ North Korea now? Btw, if you look into the South Koreans who favor an eventual unification, they are all upset at the ROK/U.S. belligerence. That should say something as well.
Even if I may be a little excessive in my characterizing U.S. presence in Asia, it is nevertheless true that South Korea and Japan are in a military alliance with the U.S. in less than equal terms (if you want to argue with me on that, I raise the white towel here…). These nations may not be occupied as in they just got run over by the U.S. military yesterday, but they are nevertheless occupied to the extent they are subvervient to the U.S. and are dependent on the U.S. in an almost (to some) existential way.
As far as the general concept of Asian unity is concerned, I am definitely with you…
Well, I’m afraid I was much too young at the time to understand the politics that started the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, but I see your point. I have seen the comments around the net, but I don’t think the Americans have any appetite for another war, with the current two being quite unpopular – it is mostly just talk. As I said earlier, American like to “fantasize” about wars as if it were a game.
Japan and S. Korea are under tremendous US influence, but I still think it’s a stretch to call them occupied states. US troops remain in Japan because a slim majority still supports them, mostly out of fear for NK. I don’t see any reason for Koreans to continue supporting a base if NK wasn’t a problem.
Perhaps you are right, though. Last year, we saw the US take an exceptionally hard stance on keeping bases in Okinawa, humiliating then PM Hatoyama and eventually contributing to his resignation. However, I believe if, for example, the large majority of Japan opposed US bases, then what can America do? Forcing SK or Japan’s hand will more likely lose them an ally.
The point I’m trying to make is that China should attract SK/Japan/Taiwan back into the traditional Asian sphere instead of driving them into Western arms. It should be done through friendly, defusing gestures and not calling them “US lackeys”, “stooges” etc. When it comes to North Korea, if the US likes to play up its threat factor, then in response China should try to shape NK into a more normal, less threatening country. That way Asian countries feel less anxious, China avoids some bad press (possibly also getting some good press), and North Korea would be better off too.
I agree with your points there Allen.
That’s a great nuance.
I agree with you Iraq and Afghanistan is ruining the appetite for war, but that can easily change. Would you say after the Vietnam War, the appetite for war was all but wiped out in the U.S.? Now try counting the invasions since then.
On one hand you are right. But on the other, this goes back to the catch22 question. If the U.S. hypes up the North Korea threat or push them to a brink and cause them to take aggressive actions in the region, that creates more threat.
The U.S. intensifying the exercises with ROK right up to the nose of North Korea only further escalates the tension.
I am in general agreement. China will earn great respect from around the world if she can help North Korea embark on the same economic development that she underwent the last few decades.
Only point I don’t agree is China being able to earn “good” press from the U.S. media. And we have certainly written plenty about that, even recently:
“Is it Ever Possible for the West to See a “Responsible” China?”
“A point by point rebuttal to the 2010 USCC Annual Report”
I think it is both North and South Korea’s fault for this problem. South Korea shouldn’t have their war games in the disputed region and the North shouldn’t rain too many missiles in that island.
However, the move by South Korea continuing its war games in the disputed area and US using its ‘gunboat diplomacy’ by sending the USS George Washington into the same area is certainly not helping. The only party who acted responsibility is China when they sent diplomats to both North and South Korea and proposing an emergency meeting to see if they can de-escalate this situation.
At Allen #18,
I am aware of what you wrote about physics – I have a PhD in physics, but actually if someone would teach the geocentric model in today’s lecture in physics (not history or philosophy) I would call that a waste of time. And frankly, yours and yinyangs comments were really offending.
My parable on the sun rotates around the earth was actually aiming also on the conclusion that they rotate around a weighted center, and as such if you want, it counts on the opinions of the “others” too.
That the “others” are more than the Americans only, was also confirmed for example by BBC:
While Western leaders and editorials have condemned North Korea’s artillery barrage of its southern neighbor on Tuesday, in China the response has been more muted.
To close the parable: exchange of fire has very much smaller weight than bombing and killing civilians. This is just acknowledging facts.
yinyang, would you be so kind and tell us of the ” casualties of the North”, and yes, I would be interested in that.
Other European newspapers (I select on purpose “left”, “not so American friendly” newspapers are even more radical
Here, for example form the Swiss “Tagesanzeiger”: north Korea adding oil to the fire
The German left-intellectual “die Zeit” wrote articles with headlines like” north Korea shoots at south Korea” and “China protects partner north Korea”
(there were quite a lot of of articles on that). This one
had 115 comments in their blog and I want to extract some of the comments, as they are in contradiction to some of the entries in this blog, so they might serve to open horizons (like you blame that I am narrow minded, when I just recognizing a smoking gun… )
First despite the east-west German successful and wanted unification people, readers don’t believe that south Korea wants a unification: north Korea is simply too poor (20 millions starving) and too problematic (more than one million under arms). So readers don’t see so much a motive for south Korea to stir and make troubles. Allen, this is probably in contradiction to your comment #19, if I read, or over interpret it, that the SK or the US wants to conquers NK. I would rather say that the American allies, in their war rhetoric wants to disarm NK, probably not even replace the regime, see also the last comment below.
Secondly some commenter argue with north-Korean internal issues: they see the 28 year old dictator-general-grandson seeking to establish himself as tough guy, at least a more plausible motive that any other on favor that south Korea wanted this escalation.
But there are also critical comments who sees the American intervention as the start and creation of a new conflict zone. But one counterargument was that the U.S. currently is much under pressure to save money, and after all, a new conflict zone means expenses.
Finally there is no one questioning that China, and China only can solve the problems with north Korea (this statement is not necessarily a positive statement,- a version sounded like “China created the problem by supporting them, now it’s their duty and responsibility to contain them).
Xian, your comment on SK/Japan/Taiwan is very good. I don’t think someone needs to prove the public opinion in this countries when it comes to NK.
I alter yinyang’s reply slightly: China, at this time, earns bad respect from around the world, by continuing protecting North Korea’s aggressive attitudes. What I read in western media is that a continuing group number of Chinese people are also tired of being blamed for that (similar like the always first popping up “Tibet” question when Chinese people are abroad and have some conversations)
(original: “China will earn great respect from around the world if she can help North Korea embark on the same economic development that she underwent the last few decades.” That certainly is true, but not possible without a political change first)
Ok – whatever. Very hard to believe…
But thanks for responding anyways. As long as you believe you are honest to yourself, you’re welcomed to comment however you like – irrespective whether I think they are mostly junk. Just learn some courtesy, and I’ll try to reciprocate – sometimes maybe.
Too near and so bold america´s military presence in china´s hegemonical region ? Don´t you ,americans,
anything wrong to do with this ?! Gsh !
Well said, and I think that’s a fair assessment.
The true sad thing was the Koreans were invaded by the Japanese, and then for hardly having a chance to develop after WW2, they were then forced to divide and forced to cut each others throats as a people. Here we are today, they are still as divided as ever. The two Koreas must find a way to improve the situation they are in. They are the principals and indeed bear the most responsibility.
The last time I remember having an argument with an Amnesty International “card-carrying” member was that he thought nations deserve to be invaded first if they don’t have “democracy.” Sigh. Where do we start with that kind of animal? 🙁
South Korean citizens demonstrating against the U.S./ROK joint military exercises in the Yellow Sea (from China Daily):
^- only makes me wonder what did all those former SK marines think about these people…
I am not in SK so I have no clue what is the amount of people for or against. According the most media I watch, most SK seems outraged the SK government didn’t do something more drastic… which leaves the question of what were you expecting instead.
Once again, there are calls for China to “reign in” NK- specifically like if NK was a puppet of PRC, but I am sure if China had such control they would be overjoyed. NK wont bark or bite unless China commands it, open their markets like China, do everything like China… follow master; wag their tails… what a good doggy… good doggy!! NO… bad doggy… dont take a dump there… BAD BAD DOGGY!
Sort of a headache for PRC as well.
Needless to say the “West” is pretty ticked that China didn’t outright blame NK (for reasons we all know). SK’s President also stated that China needed to be more fair recently.
I would have had less of a problem had they shelled military targets (artillery, bases, etc.) but hitting civilian areas is just more trouble than it is worth. One or two strays is one thing… but that didn’t seem to be the case. In the end the SK training fired into the sea- NK side or not. At most, Hit their artillery position only or wait for a ship to get to the waters there and sink it (again)… sheesh!
Let me preface this by saying that my knowledge of North and South Korea is painfully limited, and like anyone I am further limited by bias. But I think we are ignoring a larger point, North Korea is a failed and hostile state. A state defined by its militarism,a state known for its posturing, a state that can’t feed it’s people but can create a state of the art nuclear facility in 3 months ( http://www.newsy.com/videos/advanced-nuclear-facility-discovered-in-north-korea/). Why shouldn’t South Korea and the US prepare for the eventuality, yes, eventuality of armed conflict with North Korea? We can quibble about who started what forever but the fact remains that North Korea is a failed state that has nukes. That should make you uneasy, that should make you take pause. North Korea’s existence as it is now is an existential threat to the the region and the world at large. Abstraction is necessary, but it won’t stop a nuke, just as there is a place for abstraction so too is there a place for realpolitik and staging war games seems, frankly, like a MILD reaction.Like an intermediary step to AVOID war but signal that if it comes down to it we won’t blink.It looks more like diplomacy than you are recognizing. I fully understand how biased this is, I get that it may seem like a shining example of western hegemony but I’m sorry you can’t shoot down warships, advertise your illegal nuclear program and and ignore human rights violations and not expect the rest of the world to see you as a threat and treat you like a threat. I am rarely this hawkish, I abhor war, I find it disgraceful and morally objectionable that media manipulate people into hawkish positions and I don’t want this to situation to end in armed conflict but can you really defend North Korea? There has to be someone to check dangerous powers, there just does. I respect sovereignty, I don’t think my country’s way of life is inherently better than any other’s, I don’t advocate violence especially preemptive violence, but in the words of Gertrude Stein a “rose is a rose is a rose”. A threat is a threat and someone has do to something about it.
N Korea is dangerous because the U.S. posture pushed it thus. Why do you think they want nukes? Why do you think they are so parnoid? Why do you think they censor and what do you mean they “violate human rights” (if N Korea does violate human rights, so does the U.S. – and no, I am not taking attention off N Korea, but we need to know what we are talking about; if everyone violate human rights, you can’t point to just one and say, hey you violate human rights, hence, you should be eliminated, but not me)?
Why do you think the U.S. is so hated in the world? Why do you think Al Queda attacked us? What is Iran vilified but not the U.S.?
If a rose is a rose is a rose, and a threat is a threat is threat, why are you for removing N Korea, but not the US?
If there is any one power that needs to be checked in this world, I say it is the U.S.
I agree, the U.S. is a threat to most of the world. We have a long legacy of human rights violations and we should be checked. I live in actual reality where we can go ahead and say that our position of power somewhat insulates us from that.Is that just? No. But it is the nature of reality and until that changes — which it will, we will just have to have a discussion within that context. This intensity of this situation dictates that test tube arguments are of little benefit to the overall discussion.
By human rights violations I mean that there is a huge human trafficking problem in North Korea, it is also a military dictatorship. You can’t really deny that North Korea is a failed state: http://www.libraryindex.com/pages/2678/Poverty-in-Developing-World-NORTH-KOREA.html most of its people are starving and its leaders privilege the pursuit of nuclear power over providing for its people. I understand the argument that they “need” nuclear power as a deterrent but government has an obligation to its people and North Korea does not fulfill those obligations. Call me crazy but I feel like building a domestic economy should be higher on the list than building a state of the art nuclear facility.
The U.S. can’t be held responsible for everything bad that happens in the world, the west isn’t to blame for everything. We are guilty of our fair share, and we have a nasty habit of destabilizing countries for our benefit but the US isn’t the only guilty party here. North Korea shoulders a bit of the blame too. North Korea is a victim here, but not to the degree that you are suggesting. The US is an aggressor here, but it isn’t the only one. Do you truly think North Korea is blameless? If yes, why? If no, what is the correct response? What are suitable repercussions?
I don’t know North Korea is blameless. I admit: I truely don’t.
My gripe is not that I think the North should be defended, but the unidimensional narrative of blaming the North first when in fact, it is the South – with backing of the U.S. – that have taken an aggressive tack toward the North. The map issue that yinyang discussed is but one manifestation of that.
Now – I am a realist, too. The fact that the U.S. is strong and North Korea (and China) is relatively weak is a important factor to consider in how things should be resolved. But those resolution should be crouched in realist terms – not normative terms (human rights).
As for North Korea being a failed state – and hence should cease to be a state – I disagree whole heartedly.
China used to be a failed state when Japan attacked. Should China have just given up and cooperated with Japan on a Asian Cooperative Sphere? Should China have abdicated its military, government – and focused on “economic development” with the Japanese aggressors? One might argue (I’d disagree, but admit that it’s arguable), that abdication to the Japanese would have resulted in a more peaceful, less painful human experience for many Chinese in the 20th century.
From a strictly humanitarian perspective – WWII should not have been fought. Let Hitler have Europe, Japan have Asia – some people would have suffered and died – but I’m sure once the powers establish themselves, many would also prosper.
But somehow, that doesn’t seem right. Maybe our sense of “rightness” and “morality” is to blame, but I am sure that’s how North Korea, Al Quaeda, Iranian gov’t, etc. see the world today…
Whoa, I never said North Korea should cease to exist, I said it’s current incarnation is threatening. You are right about the discussion needing to take place in realist terms I just wanted to point out that part of the reason people are sympathetic to the western position is because North Korea is a failed and corrupt state.
Yes, countries should defend themselves even in the face of a superior force. I talk about economic development because North Korea has focused more on posturing on an international stage than it has on being a functioning government.
The US isn’t a conquering force here,we aren’t Japan, we aren’t Hitler’s army.North Korea has been unstable for decades, it has been openly pursuing, and now has a nuclear program. The combination of a corrupt and failed government, widespread poverty, nuclear power, and hostile relations with bordering countries is dangerous for the rest of the world. North Korea’s instability is a global problem, its internal problems have negative repercussions for everyone. What you see as needless US aggression actually has a root cause. The US has no moral authority to be the world police but what is the alternative? Succumb to the negative repercussion associated with these problems?
I think this is related to question posed about the press, context is always constrained. To understand why the US is hosting war games you must explain a whole history of diplomatic and military actions. You have to explain the nature of diplomacy, and elements of political theory and there isn’t the time or demand for such things. As I’ve said before media gives us what we ask for– it’s up to us to ask for, demand, something else, something better, like you guys do by writing this blog. So, thanks for that guys 🙂
When my son wants to learn to ride the bike, I hope I will be able to let go. Otherwise, if I keep micromanaging him, he will rebel. Better to let go than to be a parent nobody wants… or appreciates…
I think we can all agree on the alarming escalation that is taking place on the Korean peninsula.
My key concern is the U.S. media fueling the escalation rather than helping.
Sure, the flip side of the coin is that North Korea is hell bent on a nuclear program, and that is only the escalation that matters to the U.S..
In the long run, I think it is a moot point – every nation will posses nuclear weapons. Japan has the materials and the know-how to make tons in few months; it’s only a matter of time when they decide to (and sure, Nagasaki and Hiroshima offers them a different nuance). South Korea certainly has the know-how too.
This U.S. strategy of limiting nuclear weapons to only her “friends” will not work; never-mind the fact the U.S. switch allies and enemies all the time.
How do we go from here?
It goes back to that very same question I posed to Chomsky. How do we get to a world where it is less dominated by power? The small players want nuclear weapons because that is the surest way to survival and “equality.”
How do we “check” the hegemon? It is the citizens of that hegemon who hold the most responsibility in checking it. Given the state of the U.S. media, I believe there is a fundamental misalignment here.
Unless the small guys are assured of protection within this world order, their desire for nuclear weapons will always be there.
The U.S. has basically bound her feet. Given the climate in the U.S., I don’t believe the U.S. is capable of doing anything constructive to help de-escalate the situation today.
In that sense, I agree it is more up to China (and Russia) talk to North Korea to help cool them down. As I stated previously, if China can now push North Korea towards the direction of economic development, that will make them become more “normal.” After all, when you are no longer poor and have something to loose, your mindset will be different.
Just as the U.S. have failed to lift the trade embargo on Cuba, I do not believe the U.S. is capable of lifting the economic embargo on North Korea. Not in our life times.
So, my expectation for the U.S. is low. But if the media alone can be corrected, that will be a big help.
It’s less like teaching your son to ride his bike and more like watching a your neighbor’s house catch fire while they’re on vacation and not doing anything because it’s not your house.That fire can spread.
I get the deterrence argument. I’m not saying that only countries that are friendly toward the US are allowed to have nukes, I’m am saying that it is dangerous for unstable countries to have them because it increases the risk of them being trafficked or stolen, or worse.
I agree that regional powers would be more helpful in mediating this situation. The need for economic development is not a matter of North Korea living up to some western norm its a matter of its people being able to survive in a really basic way. I agree with you on the embargoes, embargoes in general are among the least sensible, and least effective modes of “diplomatic” relations.
On this we have to fundamentally disagree. I was trying to be courteous and retreat in #38 but now figure that was a mistake.
You see that the world will fall apart without U.S. active interference … I don’t. That to me is a made-believe world.
The world is a lot more robust and resilient than that.
I don’t want to sound “offensive” – but your kind of thinking reminds me exactly of the idea of white man’s burden. That is: but for white man’s active engagement with the world (on white man’s terms), the world will fall apart – and go to hell…
I understand what you are saying, I didn’t mean to be overly glib. I hate the white man’s burden mentality (and Kipling for that matter) as much as you do. I don’t mean to say that at all, I don’t think the west is burdened with protecting the rest of the world, the world is generally better off without our unnecessary intervention. Generally, US paternalism harms the rest of the world, we are often a destructive force. I can understand why you would be offended by this viewpoint because I am too.
But governance requires concessions I am not talking about the world as it ought to be, I am talking about it as it is. I only meant to articulate the US point of view in a realpolitik context. Nuclear arms are a threat to everyone, that threat is heightened when they are in an unstable region. Threats need to be dealt with and they are often dealt with in unjust ways but we have few actionable alternatives.
It would be more just for the US to turn a blind eye when unstable countries like North Korea pursue nuclear programs but it just isn’t safe.
I am sorry if I’ve been discourteous, I enjoy having an opportunity to talk with you about this you don’t know how hard it is for me to defend American foreign policy when I so fundamentally disagree with it. I especially hate it in this instance because you and I have such similar world views. I hate that US acts a world police, I hate our interventionist policies. I hate paternalism, and hegemony but I am also really really afraid of nuclear weaponry ending up on a black market and do truly believe that the risk for that increases when it ends up in the hands of highly militaristic and unstable governments. So that’s why I am defending a position that I find as odious as you do.@Allen
Now I see… and see how much we have in common.
I completely agree that from the perspective of world governance, the U.S. has an important – the most important – role to play.
I mentioned some time before, from my personal perspective, the world prospered most when there has been a hegemony. Whether it was Egypt, Rome, Greece, Mongolia, China, Great Britain, or U.S. – when there has been a hegemony – the prosperity created has resulted in a flowering of culture, art, science, technology, etc. The golden ages of human accomplishments seem to flow from big, hegemonic powers.
In that sense, I think the world – especially Asia – should be (very) thankful for the U.S. Without the U.S. engagement in Asia, modern Asia would probably be fragmented into fractitious powers fighting perpetually for a continually shrinking piece of pie. The U.S. is the only power in the modern world that has been able to systematically increase the overall pie.
But even with that said, I just see so much hypocracy in American foreign policy talk – with much of the developing world suffering – hence my ranting in these comments …
Here is Professor (also director) Shi Yuanhua of Fudan University‘s Center for Korean Studies said recently regarding this tension in the Korean Peninsula:
The problem is that Neither US, South Korean, nor Japanese government wants peace in the Korean peninsula. They refuse China’s offer for 6 party talks. Instead US and South Korea resort to gunboat diplomacy.
After reading this article about what some South Korea and US leaders said about North Korea:
I think that these delusional people think that toppling NK’s regime would bring stability in the Korean region, they are wrong. It will make Iraq look like a picnic. South Korea can’t ‘assimilate’ North Korea. Just like West Germany didn’t assimilate East Germany, rather it is some power sharing agreement between the 2 germanys that brought them together.
The only way for a happy ending in Korea is if a peace treaty can be signed and eventual disarmament between the Koreas and some kind of power sharing pact between the key people between north and south Korea. The problem is that South Korea and the US don’t want to ‘share,’ rather they want the whole piece of the pie.
Someone more articulate than me:
Good op-ed from Global Times.
Some argue America has no appetite for war, especially with the U.S. entanglement in Iraq and Afghanistan. But that argument is flawed if we look at the recent past.
The Vietnam War ended in 1973. Arguably, that “anti-war” sentiment was probably much stronger than today’s. Can you guess when the next war was?
Have a look here.
The next one was the 1991 Gulf War, if we skip over:
1965 Dominican Republic
DPRK and ROK need to chill.
U.S.’s fear towards DPRK’s nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands is very real. The DPRK need to keep that in mind regardless of what they do.
pug_ster: West Germany DID assimilate East Germany. It is also true that a small minority in West Germany was actually against the reunification as they were afraid it would lower their life standard. That’s why currently in Germany no one would believe that South Korea wants to assimilate North Korea: Nationalistic ideals soon gets second priority when it comes to a significant loss on wealth.
But of course it is not relevant what Germans thinks (don’t need to correct me on that) – it is just a different point of view. Also ,this is not in contradiction to Allen: “Any neutral observer has to admit that the S Korea and US poses a real threat to N Korea.”, no matter if you count Germans neutral observers or not. I would just alter it into: “S Korea and US (and many others) poses a real threat to nuclear N Korea”.
North Korea should be condemned for killing innocent South Korean civilians.
West Germany took over many aspects of East Germany in terms of land and currency, but not politically. IE, many East Germans became part of the government. Today many socialists from East Germany are integrated into the German government. I am just saying if North and South Korea are unified, that many North Koreans will have to be integrated into the unified government.
I do believe that the S Korean gov’t prefers the federated approach to unification – not a model where one side swallows the other.
Charles Liu says
Speak of Germany, when compared, on many levels there are obvious differences how the politics of unification is treated in Asia (N/S Vietnam, N/S Korea, China/Taiwan).