Home > Analysis, history, media, News, Opinion, politics > America enters Thanksgiving with trumpet for war over North Korea

America enters Thanksgiving with trumpet for war over North Korea

November 24th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

DPRK shells ROK held island (China Daily)

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?”

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.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

  1. Jason
    November 24th, 2010 at 16:30 | #1

    Same logic here-http://www.fff.org/blog/jghblog2010-11-24.asp

  2. November 24th, 2010 at 16:40 | #2

    Thx for that link Jason. I am just so disappointed with the U.S. media. Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. November 24th, 2010 at 17:22 | #3

    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.

  4. Josef
    November 24th, 2010 at 21:14 | #4

    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!

  5. November 24th, 2010 at 23:33 | #5

    @Josef

    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.

    Singapore
    “N.Korea blames South over attacks”
    http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Asia/Story/STIStory_607161.html

    Indonesia
    “North Korea says Seoul initiated firing os shells”
    http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/1290518984/north-korea-says-seoul-initiated-firing-os-shells

    Malaysia
    “President Susilo hopes two Koreas refrain from further hostilities”
    http://mmail.com.my/content/55912-president-susilo-hopes-two-koreas-refrain-further-hostilities

    Arab News
    “N.Korea accuses South of provoking war”
    http://arabnews.com/world/article199403.ece

    Philippines
    “North-South Korea tensions: Cold war legacy still a global burden”
    http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/-depth/11/24/10/north-south-korea-tensions-cold-war-legacy-still-global-burden

    Russia
    “North Korea attacks South, new major war unfolds”
    http://english.pravda.ru/world/asia/23-11-2010/115887-north_korea-0/

  6. November 25th, 2010 at 00:07 | #6

    @Josef,

    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.

  7. November 25th, 2010 at 00:52 | #7

    I should add that NPR’s article did briefly touch on DPRK’s position, but it was quickly dismissed (by a supposed ‘Korea expert’):

    North Korea claims its shelling of a small island off the west coast of the Korean peninsula was a response to South Korean military exercises as well as fire from the South Korean side.

    But this was a well-known military exercise that occurs every year, says Daniel Sneider, a Korea expert at Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center.

    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?

  8. Josef
    November 25th, 2010 at 00:57 | #8

    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…

  9. November 25th, 2010 at 01:52 | #9

    @Josef

    1. You said “China simply does not write explicitly that there was an attack from North Korea, which is a fact.”

    China Daily
    “DPRK bombs houses in ROK”
    http://europe.chinadaily.com.cn/video/2010-11/24/content_11603999.htm

    Xinhua News
    “Destruction caused by DPRK artillery shells”
    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/photo/2010-11/24/c_13620816.htm

    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.

    Officials of the presidential administration of South Korea said that North Korea might have responded to military drills conducted in the South. South Korean President Lee Myung Bak stated Tuesday that he was doing his best not to let the incident grow into a large scale military conflict.

    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?

  10. November 25th, 2010 at 10:50 | #10

    @YinYang,

    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…

  11. November 25th, 2010 at 15:33 | #11

    @Allen

    Indeed.

  12. Josef
    November 25th, 2010 at 17:03 | #12

    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”.

  13. Josef
    November 25th, 2010 at 17:35 | #13

    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”?

  14. November 26th, 2010 at 00:03 | #14

    @Josef

    http://gowans.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/wrong-country-blamed-for-artillery-exchange-on-korean-peninsula/

    The South Korean newspaper, The Hankyoreh, carried a similar report.

    “Prior to the incident the South Korean military carried out a firing exercise…in the (disputed) area around Yeonpyeong Island and Baengnyeong Island…North Korea sent a message Tuesday morning that it would not tolerate firing in its territorial waters.” [3]

    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.

  15. November 26th, 2010 at 00:06 | #15

    In my original post above, I referred readers to the Stephen Gowans article. I have included here for your convenience:

    “Wrong country blamed for artillery exchange on Korean peninsula”
    http://gowans.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/wrong-country-blamed-for-artillery-exchange-on-korean-peninsula/

    November 24, 2010

    By Stephen Gowans

    While North Korea has been blamed for Tuesday’s exchange of artillery fire on the Korean peninsula, a close reading of news reports shows that it was South Korea that created a tinderbox and then provided the spark.

    The incident happened along the Northern Limit Line, a Western sea border unilaterally drawn by the United States at the end of the Korean War and never accepted by the North. The Northern Limit Line has been the site of a number of skirmishes between ROK and DPRK naval forces.

    A year ago, the countries’ warships clashed in the disputed area, with a North Korean warship going down in flames. “In 1999, a North Korean ship went down with thirty sailors lost and maybe seventy wounded” in the same area. [1] The contested border is not part of the Armistice Agreement that brought active hostilities to an end.

    The backdrop for the latest incident was the South’s mobilizing 70,000 troops, 50 warships, 90 helicopters, 500 warplanes and 600 tanks in war-games exercises the North had vigorously objected to. Pyongyang described the exercises—which also involved the US Marines and the US Air Force–as “simulating an invasion of the North”, “a means to provoke a war” and “a rehearsal for an invasion.” Western press reports and US government officials dismissed Pyongyang’s anxiety over the war-games as overblown, pointing out that the exercise had been announced in advance. But advance notice hardly lessens the potential threat of massing troops, or makes the North Korean military’s task of distinguishing between war-games and preparation for an invasion any easier.

    With the North Koreans already on edge, South Korea acted to heighten the tension.

    According to an Associated Press report:

    “The skirmish began Tuesday when North Korea warned the South to halt military drills near their sea border…When Seoul refused and began firing artillery into disputed waters…the North retaliated by shelling the small island of Yeonpyeong…” [2]

    The South Korean newspaper, The Hankyoreh, carried a similar report.

    “Prior to the incident the South Korean military carried out a firing exercise…in the (disputed) area around Yeonpyeong Island and Baengnyeong Island…North Korea sent a message Tuesday morning that it would not tolerate firing in its territorial waters.” [3]

    The New York Times noted that South Korean “artillery units had been firing from a battery on the South Korean island of Baeknyeongdo, close to the North Korean coast” and that “the South acknowledged firing test shots in the (disputed) area.” [4]

    These press reports show that South Korea acted to inflame an already volatile situation. While most media reports obscured the point, South Korea fired the first shots.

    The South regularly mounts war-games drills directed at North Korea, keeping the North on a continual war footing and in a constant state of high alert. North Korea’s response to the provocation is being used to justify a build-up of US forces in the region, and more joint ROK-US exercises.

    “President Obama and South Korea’s president agreed…to hold joint military exercises as a first response,” reported the New York Times. “The exercise will include sending the aircraft carrier George Washington and a number of accompanying ships into the region…” [5]

    Earlier this year, the United States and South Korea used the sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean warship, as an excuse to ratchet up military pressure on North Korea. The warship appears to have run aground in the same area in which the latest incident occurred. Seoul and Washington blamed North Korea for the sinking, but the evidence South Korea brought forward in a report authored by itself and its allies is disputed within South Korea and has been questioned by an official Russian investigation. North Korea vehemently denies it sunk the warship.

    The latest South Korean provocation may be part of a larger US-ROK campaign to escalate military pressure on North Korea, with the aim of forcing Pyongyang to divert more of its limited resources to defense, thereby crippling North Korea’s prospects for development and possibly ushering in the collapse of the country. Washington has long followed a practice of isolating, blockading and using military threats to intimidate countries that have broken free of imperialist domination. This isn’t an isolated incident, in which an unpredictable and bellicose North Korea behaves badly to extract concessions from the West–as the predictably anti-North Korea Western media put it–but part of a larger pattern of the West seeking the DPRK’s destruction through a program of escalating diplomatic isolation, economic warfare and military provocations.

    1. “Historian Bruce Cumings: US Stance on Korea Ignores Tensions Rooted in 65-Year-Old Conflict; North Korea Sinking Could Be Response to November ’09 South Korea Attack”, Democracy Now, May 27, 2010.

    2. Hyung-Jin Kim and Kwang-Tae Kim, “Tensions high as North, South Korea trade shelling”, The Associated Press, November 23, 2010.

    3. Kwon Hyuk-chul, “President Lee has changed his position from controlled response to manifold retaliation”, The Hankyoreh, November 24, 2010.

    4. Mark McDonald, “Crisis Status’ in South Korea After North Shells Island” The New York Times, November 23, 2010.

    5. David E. Sanger, “U.S. to send carrier for joint exercises off Korea”, The New York Times, November 23, 2010.

  16. silentvoice
    November 26th, 2010 at 03:23 | #16

    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.

  17. xian
    November 26th, 2010 at 17:51 | #17

    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:

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/11/25/koreas.crisis/index.html
    http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/11/24/nkorea.skorea.military.fire/index.html

    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.

  18. November 26th, 2010 at 18:00 | #18

    @Josef 4, 8, 12:

    #12: you wrote,

    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”.

    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.

  19. November 26th, 2010 at 18:06 | #19

    @xian,

    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.

  20. xian
    November 26th, 2010 at 20:54 | #20

    @Allen
    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.

  21. November 26th, 2010 at 22:32 | #21

    @xian

    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 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:

    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.

    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.

  22. November 26th, 2010 at 23:49 | #22

    @xian #20,

    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…

  23. xian
    November 27th, 2010 at 00:06 | #23

    @YinYang

    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.

  24. xian
    November 27th, 2010 at 00:09 | #24

    @Allen

    I agree with your points there Allen.

  25. November 27th, 2010 at 16:03 | #25

    @silentvoice

    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.

    That’s a great nuance.

    @xian #23

    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.

    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.

    US troops remain in Japan because a slim majority still supports them, mostly out of fear for NK.

    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.

    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 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?”
    http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2010/10/a-responsible-china/

    “A point by point rebuttal to the 2010 USCC Annual Report”
    http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2010/11/a-point-by-point-rebuttal-to-the-2010-uscc-annual-report/

  26. pug_ster
    November 28th, 2010 at 12:59 | #26

    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.

  27. Josef
    November 28th, 2010 at 18:27 | #27

    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.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11828846

    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
    http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/ausland/asien-und-ozeanien/Nordkorea-giesst-weiter-l-ins-Feuer/story/23205611

    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

    http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2010-11/nordkorea-suedkorea-artillerie-beschuss

    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)

  28. November 28th, 2010 at 18:50 | #28

    @Josef #27,

    I have a PhD in physics….

    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.

  29. luiz
    November 28th, 2010 at 18:50 | #29

    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 !

  30. November 28th, 2010 at 20:22 | #30

    @pug_ster

    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.

    @Allen

    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? 🙁

  31. November 28th, 2010 at 23:42 | #31

    South Korean citizens demonstrating against the U.S./ROK joint military exercises in the Yellow Sea (from China Daily):

  32. HermitCrab
    November 29th, 2010 at 06:48 | #32

    ^- 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!
    If only…

    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!

  33. November 29th, 2010 at 08:27 | #33

    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.

  34. November 29th, 2010 at 10:59 | #34

    @Rosa,

    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.

  35. November 29th, 2010 at 11:50 | #35

    @Allen
    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?

  36. November 29th, 2010 at 12:04 | #36

    @Rosa,

    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…

  37. November 29th, 2010 at 12:44 | #37

    @Allen

    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 🙂

  38. November 29th, 2010 at 13:59 | #38

    @Rosa,

    You wrote:

    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?

    Yes …

    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…

  39. November 29th, 2010 at 14:05 | #39

    @Rosa, Allen,

    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.

  40. November 29th, 2010 at 14:13 | #40

    @Allen
    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.

  41. November 29th, 2010 at 14:29 | #41

    @YinYang
    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.

  42. November 29th, 2010 at 15:40 | #42

    @Rosa #40,

    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…

  43. November 29th, 2010 at 16:58 | #43

    @Allen

    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

  44. November 29th, 2010 at 18:35 | #44

    @Rosa #43,

    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 …

  45. November 29th, 2010 at 21:02 | #45

    Here is Professor (also director) Shi Yuanhua of Fudan University‘s Center for Korean Studies said recently regarding this tension in the Korean Peninsula:

    Easing of tension possible
    By Shi Yuanhua (China Daily)
    Updated: 2010-11-29 08:00

    DPRK and ROK should exercise restraint, and world powers need to persuade both sides to return to the negotiating table

    On Nov 23, a deadly exchange of artillery fire between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) shocked the world. With both sides accusing the other of initiating the attack, tensions on the Korean Peninsula escalated alarmingly.

    The root cause of the skirmish is the long-term inter-Korean mutual military deterrence. In the later half of this year, tensions on the Korean Peninsula were still strained following the sinking of the Cheonan. The US and the ROK refused to engage in dialogue with Pyongyang and held a series of joint military drills.

    In responding to the hard-line policy of the US and the ROK, the DPRK took an even tougher approach and threatened to wage war against the ROK.

    This build-up in tension has resulted in the current exchange of fire and it seems that the confrontation might escalate.

    Pyongyang is taking a hard-line stance, saying that if ROK forces dare to encroach on even one inch of its territorial sea, it will launch military attacks without hesitation.

    More worringly, prior to the current hostilities Pyongyang opened its new uranium enrichment plant to an American scientist, challenging Washington’s policy toward DPRK, and the ROK’s hawkish defense minister has suggested that Seoul might consider asking the US to redeploy nuclear weapons, which were withdrawn from the country in 1991. The USS George Washington aircraft carrier strike group has joined the ROK’s naval forces for joint exercises at the Yellow Sea area.

    The US-led Western support for the ROK and continual condemnation of the DPRK will only fan the flames of conflict.

    Meanwhile, there have been loud calls from the West for Beijing to put more pressure on Pyongyang.

    But, due to the high complexity of the Korean Peninsula issue, China, as a responsible power in Northeast Asia, can only act as a mediator between the DPRK and the ROK. Beijing will try to persuade Pyongyang to exercise restraint and stop its military operations, and will talk Seoul into stopping military deterrence and confrontation.

    However, under the threat of frequent large-scale US-ROK military exercises, it is hard to imagine that Pyongyang will accept Beijing’s advice. The most important factor in defusing tensions is for the US-ROK joint military drills to cease.

    To resolve the current crisis concerted efforts should be made to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The two sides should exercise calm and restraint and stop confrontational actions. They should resume contacts and dialogue as soon as possible.

    Washington should rethink its policy toward Pyongyang and adjust its DPRK policy. Other Western countries should take a responsible attitude and join hands with China and the US to persuade the two parties to return to the negotiating table and resume the Six-Party Talks.

    The possibility of a “soft landing” for the inter-Korean conflict does still exist.

    First, neither Pyongyang nor Seoul wants to wage a war and both dare not engage in an all-out war. Neither would be able to withstand the catastrophic damage caused by a modern war and both sides need a peaceful environment for their own development and construction. Both sides have time and leeway to adjust and change their policies.

    Second, though issuing stern statements, both sides have restrained themselves from infuriating the other in practice. The ROK government played down its former defense minister’s comments on redeploying nuclear weapons in the ROK. In dealing with the conflict, both sides have left leeway for resuming peace talks.

    Third, the international community does not want to see unrest or warfare on the Korean Peninsula. For example, Russia issued statements similar to China’s, and both the US and Japan do not want to see the deterioration of the regional situation. This, too, is conducive to creating peace and stability on the peninsula.

    Fourth, Beijing and Washington have been talking. Stephen Bosworth, US special representative for DPRK policy and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi reached a consensus in emergency talks amid the crisis that conflict is unacceptable and both the DPRK and the ROK should exert restraint.

    Efforts should be made to resume the Six-Party Talks as soon as possible so the DPRK and the ROK can bury the hatchet and work for peace.

  46. pug_ster
    November 29th, 2010 at 23:12 | #46

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/world/asia/30seoul.html?hp

    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.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032619/ns/nightly_news/#40424093

    After reading this article about what some South Korea and US leaders said about North Korea:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40422090/ns/us_news-security/

    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.

  47. November 30th, 2010 at 10:52 | #47

    Someone more articulate than me:

    WikiLeaks: China’s break with North Korea is overblownHistorical ties between China and North Korea are still strong, in spite of what the leaked US cables seem to tell us

    Chun Lin

    At first it seems as if the WikiLeaks cables give us a glimpse of what is really going on around the Korean peninsula, hinting at Chinese exasperation at recent North Korean aggression. But as is often the case with this part of the world, the “facts” we take for granted are more complex than they appear.

    North Korea’s recent shelling of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong is a case in point. For a start, Yeonpyeong is not exactly a “South Korean island”, but a military base used by South Korean forces. It is located about seven miles away from the North’s ground territory, on a disputed “northern limit line” unilaterally drawn by US-led UN forces after the Korean war. As the South has admitted, the North’s warning, and then attack, was preceded by their artillery drills in the maritime area around the island. In other words, the provocation was provoked.

    This does not amount to a defence of North Korea, especially in view of the loss of lives. But neither should the sequence of events and the larger background be distorted. In Korea’s case, that larger background consists of a historical cold-war climate in the region, and, more recently, an increase in military activity following the end of President Kim Dae-Jung’s “sunshine policy” towards the North.

    Current naval exercises have now been joined by American forces. According to the South’s Yonhap news agency, the drills are “the largest of their kind”, involving an aircraft carrier carrying 75 planes and at least four other warships in the Yellow Sea. As the Washington Times reminds us, “the power projection capabilities of the USS George Washington, with its fighter aircraft wing, extend all the way to Beijing”. As a little thought experiment, try to imagine if China was to conduct military exercises near the US coast.

    China has called for calm and talks in the face of the present crisis, and yet it gets blamed for the escalation of the situation. “The key to all this”, declared Senator John McCain, “is China, and unfortunately China is not behaving as a responsible world power”. While McCain thinks “it’s time we talk about regime change in North Korea”, Senator John Bolton would “cut off all food aid”. Are US politicians being responsible in their words and deeds?

    The confrontation on the Korean peninsula isn’t “the last hangover from the cold war” (as Isabel Hilton has argued here) – the remaining US military bases around China and America’s ongoing paranoia are. However obedient Beijing tries to be, America continues to declare it a “threat” that needs to be contained.

    North Korea, on the other hand, sticks with its state ideology of juche (literally “self-reliance”). This explains its desire to talk with the US directly, a strategy that is also supported by China. In the last few months, talks have produced positive results, and Pyongyang proposed to develop a denuclearised peninsula and a permanent peace treaty to replace the 1953 truce. The message was relayed to Washington – but there was no response.

    This year sees the 60th anniversary of the Korean war. The Chinese remember that conflict mainly for the heroic struggle of their volunteers in Korea, and the two countries have been tied together in their national liberation struggles ever since the Japanese invaded Manchuria in 1931. Deep in China’s heart, the recent dilemma is not so much about Korean unification or regime survival in the North as its own lost sons and daughters – nearly a million were buried on the other side of the Yalu river. Revolution and socialism might be long gone; national pride, in this case flavoured with an element of internationalism, still lingers. There is nothing surprising in the exposure from WikiLeaks about official China’s predicament; and in the end, any responsible power still must seek to solve, rather than fuel, the conflict.

  48. November 30th, 2010 at 16:36 | #48

    Good op-ed from Global Times.

    Is a war looming on the Korean Peninsula?
    Source: Global Times [08:07 November 29 2010]

    The tension on the Korean Peninsula soared to a new level with the US aircraft carrier George Washington set to join a Yellow Sea military drill. If a new clash erupts with a US aircraft carrier involved, a final scenario will be much harder to predict.

    Despite the strong rhetoric, none of the countries involved in the confrontation are truly prepared to fight an all out war.

    North Korea does not have the capability to beat South Korea and the US, while South Korea does not have the will to see the peninsula engulfed in a military clash. Barely emerging from the Iraqi war nightmare, another war without a clear ending is the last thing the US needs.

    Keeping this in mind, the three countries should stop trying to intimidate the other side with strong-arm tactics. China pushed for emergency talks yesterday, trying to cool down the tense situation. Whatever the response, China’s attitude is in earnest and the initiative should be taken to get the parties involved back to the negotiation table in Beijing.

    Strategic intimidation has to be renounced. Within the US and South Korea, the official stance from the governments and strong public sentiment can affect each other. Many wars have been fought because public sentiment mistakenly influenced government policy.

    In Northeast Asia, peace and stability are of the greatest concern, however, it is often pushed aside by minor but vocal hard line opinions. Peace comes second to election rhetoric and media noise. Advocacy for rationality and mutual compromise, on the contrary, would cause political risk and often be dubbed as traitorous.

    Experience from the last decade suggests that hawkish policies rarely work out in Northeast Asia. Short-term political gains often incur long-term damage that has to be repaired by the entire region. The erratic policies are also often dumped with a change in administrations.

    The accumulation of tension on the Korean Peninsula has now reached a dangerous breaking point. The two Koreas, and also the entire region, must be cautious.

    War is not welcome, yet it is approaching and the danger is being bizarrely tolerated. What is happening is not a game. No one can guarantee the situation will not turn into a real war.

  49. November 30th, 2010 at 17:10 | #49

    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
    1982 Lebanon
    1983 Grenada
    1989 Panama

    The accumulation of tension on the Korean Peninsula has now reached a dangerous breaking point. The two Koreas, and also the entire region, must be cautious.

    War is not welcome, yet it is approaching and the danger is being bizarrely tolerated. What is happening is not a game. No one can guarantee the situation will not turn into a real war.

    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.

  50. Josef
    November 30th, 2010 at 18:21 | #50

    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”.

  51. Chops
    December 1st, 2010 at 21:33 | #51

    North Korea should be condemned for killing innocent South Korean civilians.

  52. pug_ster
    December 2nd, 2010 at 11:45 | #52

    Josef,

    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.

  53. December 2nd, 2010 at 14:17 | #53

    @Josef, pug_ster,

    I do believe that the S Korean gov’t prefers the federated approach to unification – not a model where one side swallows the other.

  54. Charles Liu
    December 9th, 2010 at 23:45 | #54

    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).

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.