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.)