Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The sinking of the 'Cheonan' is not the sinking of the 'Maine'

A quick history note: the destruction of the 'Maine' in Havana harbour [15 February 1898], provided the US with a 'causus belli' to war against Spain. This 'jolly little [but safe] war' began the growth of the US as an imperial power in the Caribbean and in the Pacific.
The sinking of the South Korean corvette the 'Cheonan' in the disputed waters of the Yellow Sea in March 2010 makes stern adversies in the ROK [Republic of Korea aka South Korea] itching for a brawl but not a war with the DRPK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea], whose evil hand they see in the ship's destruction.
Although South Korea's president Lee Myung bek has called for caution in blaming the DPRK, he has nonetheless taken the high road of bluster and innuendo and summer soldier in surrounding himself with the like of former president and general Chun Doo wham. a noted hardliner when it comes to North Korea.
Mr. Lee himself is no slacker in playing hardball with the North. From his very first day in office he has scuppered the 'Sunshine Policy', and eliminated or cut drastically agricultural products to North Korea; he has held a very loose leash on evangical Christian groups who are seeking not only to denigrate Kim Jong il but bring the DPRK back to Christianity. [Pyongyang was once call the 'second Jerusalem'.] Mr. Lee's policies have encourage North Korean defectors living in the South to intensify a propaganda war against the Kim regime.
If Mr. Lee had hoped for a transformation of the DPRK's mindset, he was wrong. He put his money on the wrong horse.
The sinking of the 'Cheonan', along with the loss of 40 crew, has infused and enthused Mr. Lee and his allies at home and abroad [notably in the US], to 'confront' North Korea....cautiously.
As GuamDiary noted the big British North Korea watcher Aidan Foster Carter has devised his wishful theory of pining the tail of blame on the DPRK. The 'New York Times' man in Seoul Choe Sang hun weaves in lawyerly fashion, a tale of circumstantial evidence pointing to the North in the 'Cheonan' affair. Other journalists and stringers are less caution, and stake out a claim of blame for North Korea.
The New York Korea Society in a closed door meeting [27 April 2010] will ponder what options the South Korea government can and should take.
Of course they are not dealing with an old 'failed state', as they see it, North Korea has the 'bomb', so any military action is fraught with high danger. A call for more sanctions and further isolation of the DPRK, hasn't work; in fact, the US Korea experts full well know that such egotistism and arrogance lay at the root of the DPRK's testing of a nuclear device which George Bush's mindless posturing pushed them into. If anything, it seems that they have learnt little from the lessons of the Korean war which remains a cold war today. They certainly don't want a 'hot' war, the more especially since Nixon/Kissinger left China the undisputed master in northeast Asia.
Thus, in building a case against the DPRK, all stops are being pulled out. 'Al Jazeera' [26 April 2010] mentions a culprit. It is none other than the 70 year old general Kim Myong guk. Kim is the head of North Korea's general staff. He has remained in his post in spite of South Korea's 'Joong ahn Il bo's signalling in January 2010, that he had lost a star. Photographs testify that he was now a two star general, demoted it is said for the November 2009 clash with the ROK navy in the Yellow Sea: the DRPK came off badly in that skirmish with wounded and dead and vessel damage.
Today's scenario implies that Kim to gain back his star and to avenge his 'loss of face' carried out the torpedoing of the 'Cheonan'.
To date, no one really knows. A detailled investigation of the raised 'Cheonan' is underway. It will take time to complete. The sinking of the ROK corvette is shrouded in mystery. Unlike the 'Maine', it is said that the ship's explosion was external. It is open to question whether in the ill defined area of the Yellow Sea with South Korean islands lying within North Korean 200 mile limit, housed mines or torpedo[e]s from the Korean war or the much earlier war against Japan.
The DPRK has denied any responsibility after breaking a three week silence. The ROK has beat the drums of 'revenge' at memorials, in the media local or foreign, etc.
GuamDiary will not rush to judgment, nor slip into easy morality. It is almost a foregone conclusion the North is the culprit, if we believe what we hear or read.
A renewed push for sanctions and boycotts will no doubt prove again useless. They will only stiffen DRPK resolve. And North Korea has cards of its own to play. Consider its taking over the South Korean built and financed and run Kaesong Industrial Zone. It can rattle its sabres as good as South Korea.
Contrary to the west's expectations, the DPRK has not collapsed since the death of Kim Il Sung. Nor will it now.
A quick study of the DPRK's organisational structure dismisses that idea. Its leadership and cadre won't disappear into the night as its detractors and ill wishers fanatise.
The DPRK wears its radical nationalism on its sleeve. You would think that the ROK, the US, and others would learn to deal with that given quantity. Instead for the last 65 years, through thick and thin, and certainly after a stalemated 3 year war, they might have learnt to be more flexible and intelligent in treating with the DRPK.
'No jolly little war' is on the horizon.

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