Thursday, May 27, 2010

The People's Liberation Army speaks back to Hillary Clinton on punishing North Korea

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton did not expect a critical 'lecture' by a senior officer of China's PLA [People's Liberation Army] during the recent two day meeting of the US and Chinese high officials.
Mrs. Clinton was pushing hard on her campaign to 'punish' the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea], among a list of problem areas. She is trying to enlist China's voice in yet other mesures of boycott against North Korea in the sinking of the ROK [Republic of Korea aka South Korea] corvette 'Cheonan'.
Whilst China's civilian authorities were preaching 'calm and patience', the PLA's was loud and clear in assessing US motives.
According to a 27 May 2010 article appearing in the 'New York Times', Mark Landler filing a story from Seoul, bruited the PLA's harsh criticism of US policy up and down the line.
The PLA 'blameed Washington for everything that has gone wrong between the two countries and credited Beijing for everything that has gone right'.
Injecting this standpoint into the current US ROK warlike offensive against the DPRK, it should make Mrs. Clinton and South Korea's president Lee Myung bek pause for reflexion. But it won't.
US diplomacy has forgotten the pivotal role of the Chinese People's Volunteers in pushing back the UN forces, led and commanded by the US from the Yalu to the 38 parallel during the Korean war.
That essential fact, it seems, has played no calculation in the US going on the warpath against North Korea
Had not anyone in Foggy Bottom reread Robert Whiting's Rand study on 'China crosses the Yalu', commissioned by the CIA connected Rand Corporation and published in 1960?
Apparently not.
The PLA has its say in China's policy towards the DPRK. And it is not open to question that it prefers a 'strong' North Korea as a buffer on the Yalu.
Mr. Lee and Mrs. Clinton as represent the Barack Obama [BHO] administration, have within less than 60 days rolled back history and ramped up tensions on the divided Korean peninsula to a point that recalls the days leading up to war in Korea 60 years ago.
The situation between the DPRK and the ROK and the US is such that a mishap during joint US ROK military operations on the Yellow Sea and on land, might spark a shooting incident, thereby sending shock waves through markets and upping the ante for war.
As GuamDiary has remarked elsewhere, Euripdes words have a special meaning for the US ROK tack against the DPRK: 'whom the gods wish to destroy, they first drive mad'.
And China's PLA has thrown up a stern warning that it will not brook any new war by the US and the ROK on the very tense Korean peninsula.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The US and South Korea playing chicken

The US has announced beefed up joint military exercises with the ROK [Republic of Korea aka South Korea], including submarine warfare in the Yellow Sea close to the waters of the DPRK [Democratic Republic of Korea aka North Korea], the scene of the sinking of the South Korean corvette 'Cheonan'.
It is not clear if the US' announcement is premature since South Korea has not cautioned it yet?
The waters in the Yellow Sea are contested waters; their boundaries remain a matter of contraversy and a scar of unfinished business from the Korean war. Which makes them a theatre of continuous conflict, the more especially some ROK islands lie dangerously close to the DPRK.
Continuous joint military exercises in the area have but one goal: to make Pyongyang blink. It will take more than sabre rattling to make the DPRK cry Uncle! The US and the ROK in tow think building pressure on North Korea by denying it trade, withholding food aid, and big military brass band noise with provoke the DPRK to call or fold.
GuamDiary has already expressed its concern that such measures do and can take on a life of their own which neither Washington nor Seoul can control. The two capitols are puffing military medal chests, with the feeling that truth and justice are on their side. Are they? That remains to be seen.
The Obama administration is continuing the hard nosed, hard lined and failed George W Bush tack towards the DPRK. GuamDiary has already noted how Mr. Bush had to turn tail, and tail between his legs, had to re engage Pyongyang at the bargaining table.
Washington's and Seoul's pathological fear of talking to Pyongyang has the odour of gnashing teeth and wailing. It is an inability to lest the baggage of the past, in order to unravel a tangled tale of missteps, failed opportunities, and wrong roads taken.
South Korea's president Lee Myung bek from his first day in office has sought to teach the DPRK at lesson. Triumphant in his success at the polls, he quashed the 'Sunshine Policy', which for all its warts lessened tensions on the divided Korean peninsula, and proved in many instances, in the face of North Korea's obstinancy, were bearing positive results.
Mr. Lee reversed that by say denying the North fertilizer, to increase food production; cut back harshly food imports, and stood tall on questionable principles of Mr. Lee's morality.
In a right punch, left punch policy pursed by the ROK and the US, we are seeing the logical conclusion of Mr. Lee's policy to bring the DPRK to its knees. On the other hand, the US is wailing that the North is not returning to the six party talks in Beijing. Well why should it, given the hostile posturing of Washington, speaking out two sides of its mouth.
Washington and Seoul have taken the road of squeezing North Korea. The sinking of the 'Cheonan' has it seems given them the hammer to smash the DPRK.
Had these two allies glanced lightly at recent history, they would see this tack is doomed to failure, or that the results will be minimal, but the danger of reheating a Korean war in cryogenic state of suspended animation.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, pushing a no nonsense approach to the DPRK, and very open to ratcheding up with military measures not completely thought through. She has made no headway with China who preached 'patience and calm', in dealing with the DPRK.
GuamDiary raises this question: did Mrs. Clinton raise the question with the Chinese about Kim Jong il's recent visit to Beijing? Did he given Beijing reason to pass along a message to Washington about the sunken 'Cheonan'? Or did China try to explain more fully its position of preaching calm, based on conversations with Kim Jong il? Perhaps it is too early to tell. Yet, it is important to raise the matter.
The recourse to heightened military shows in the Yellow Sea is fraught with the danger of war, which even China may be helpless to stop.
At the present moment, Washington and Seoul are playing chicken. Will they blink first?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The sinking of the 'Cheonan' a violation of the 1953 Armistice?

As the late American comedian Jimmy Durante famously said: 'everyone wants to get into the act'.
Joining the angry chorus of blaming the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea] is the United Nations Command [UNC], which the US commands and has final authority.
Now the UNC has launched an investigation into the DPRK has violated the 1953 Korean armistice by sinking the ROK [Republic of Korea aka South Korea].
The entry of the UNC into the Wagnerian
orchestration of condemnation is yet another step in increasing North Korea to cry 'Uncle!' and confess.
The UNC is composed of 11 members--South Korea, the US, the UK,Canada, Australia,France,Turkey,Denmark,Switzerland,and Sweden. [A quick look at its mandate, passed in haste, leaves decisions and determinations not in the hands of the UN Secretary General but in the chief military officer who, surprise, surprise, surprise, is American.]
The Obama administration hopes to exert the maximum pressure on North Korea, in order to punish it for the sinking of the 'Cheonan', as well as the loss of 46 crew.
Which is not fully proven since the ROK and the US are unwilling to put all the exhibits of proof on the table. GuamDairy has raised the question of reasonable doubt of guilt.
The gambit of playing the UNC card makes GuamDiary to fret at the longer term consequences of such a move.
To GuamDiary the words of Euripedes comes readily to mind: 'Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad'.
The US' and Rok's rush to judgment by appealing to the UNC begins a slide on the slippery slope of heating up a cold war.
What action short of war will the UNC call for? It is beyond a shadow of a doubt, it will condemn North Korea for the sunken 'Cheonan'. It is a foregone conclusion!
GuamDiary is of the opinion that Seoul and Washington are acting rashly, and in haste, they have neglected a full review of the contingencies that will escape their control.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton is forcing the issue. She may think that she is gradually turning the screws on the DPRK; she's wrong. She is opening up her own Pandora's box with dire consequences if her course of action is not reversed.
Pyongyang has responded strongly by condemning the UNC's investigation 'bogus'. Here's the pity of it all: the US and the ROK are stone deaf to the DPRK's arguments. They have learnt nothing from past history. Like the toppled French royal house of Bourbon, they forgot everything and learnt nothing. The closed mind George Bush learnt a hard lesson. He thumbed his nose at Pyongyang, but had to run fast back to discussions with North Korea, when they tested a nuclear device. It is so easy to thrust out one's chest, bellow threats, without nothing behind them but hot air.
Does Mrs. Clinton envision delivering a nuclear threat to the North? Has she thought of starting up a hot war which ended in a US stalemate and defeat to roll back communism? Such are legitimate concerns raised by convening a UNC enquiry.
In brief, GuamDiary see the UNC investigation as a smokescreen to advance US designs which for lack of clarity and in the US' diplomacy, so hopelessly wedded to the past, and weighed down by the weights and chains of muddled thinking and invested interests do raise a flag of warning and concern.
America's approach to the DPRK should be questioned. China and Russia will try to blunt Washington's thrust.
A slim ray of thought however does emerge: by raising the issue of the Korean armistice, is not the time right to reconvene in Geneva or elsewhere a conference which will work towards a peace treaty ending the tensions on the divided Korean peninsula; establishing diplomatic relations with Pyongyang and Seoul and Pyongyang and the US [on the heels of which other states will recongise the DPRK]; economic issues, and surely the nuclear issue. Such a conference will calm the fears existing in east Asia.
There is nothing Pollyanna-erish in this suggest, but as the way things stand now, US diplomacy is in the fast lane of war fever. Do not say, we didn't warn you!

Friday, May 21, 2010

'Cheonan'--the proof is in the pudding

The DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea]is right to demand the complete evidence against it in the sinking of the ROK [Republic of Korea aka South Korea] corvette 'Cheonan' in March 2010.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, on her swing through northeast Asia, proclaims that the 'proof' of North Korea's dark hand in the sinking is 'overwhelming'. Her voice is but the latest in a chorus of condemnation.
GuarDiary, however, raises the question of how circumstantial is the evidence. And what's more, the matter of the ROK withholding its strong case in a classified and sensitive document.
Why the timidity in the face of the Wagnerian drama which South Korea's president Lee Myung bek has been conducting for weeks now, pointing his baton of blame on Pyongyang?
If there is a 'strong' case to be made before the court of world public opinion, why not argue the case with all its exhibits, in complete transparency?
As long as the ROK is unwilling to put all its cards on the table, doubts will persist, thereby rendering the case of 'he's says, she says', with no one much the less muddled.
If the blame falls squarely on the DPRK's shoulder, make the case without a reasonable doubt!
Pyongyang, the bluster and sabre rattling notwithstanding, is on solid grounds, as GuamDiary observes, in demanding full and indeniable proof, not guilt by past practices in 'terrorism', or analogies with old North Korean weaponry.
As the English expression says: 'the proof is in the pudding'. We are waiting for a serving of the full and complete truth, still.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Is proof against North Korea in the sinking of the 'Cheonan' conclusive?

Details of Seoul indictment against North Korea in the sinking of the corvette "Cheonan" can be disputed. For weeks now, South Korea has been conducting a media campaign to blame Pyongyang in the sinking of its vessel in disputed waters. Its spokesman proclaims that the North's responsibility is obvious. Is it? The determination of Pyongyang's responsability according to the international press, is shrouded in a "sensitive and classified document" which the South has refrained from making public. Were we in a court of law, the evidence Seoul presents is circumstantial, and leaves the jury with the option to deliver a verdict of not guilty by "reasonable doubt".
GuamDiary deplores the loss of life in the sinking of the 'Cheonan', the question of transparency remains. The opinion of international experts cannot dispel the cloud of questions as to South Korea's charge. Agnostically speaking, we remember the bay of Tonkin kerfluffle which brought the US fully into war in Vietnam. Later, it was proven a fabrication.
South Korea rattles an hollow sabre. It cannot declare war. The US threatens 'sanctions' which have never worked against North Korea. US secretary of defence Gates speaks of the North's not accepting sea boundaries which have been left defined since the 1953 Armistice agreement.
Washington calls for a strong reaction. Does the US mean war? Hardly. Bombast, yes; war, no. Perhaps a show of strength in international Pacific waters? Bravado has never impressed North Korea. They can run circles around America in this exercise.
Nary a calm voice is heard in this chorus of harrumphs. Joel Wit who during the Clinton presidency, preaches patience and openness and engagement with Pyongyang.
For those willing to bother listening to Kim Jong il, he has called for talks with the US.
Although US president Obama is willing to extend a hand, his administration has steadfastly taken a hard line on North Korea. It sounds as though it is the bully saying, 'you do as I say'. The record shows that this does not obtain with North Korea.
The US has too much macho bagage. With swagger and bluster, it won't draw Pyongyang back to six party talks, which is an excuse to get nowhere.
South Korea's president Lee Myung bek is seeing his 'drang nach Norden' fail miserably. And this was predictable the moment he torpedoed the 'Sunshine Policy'.
Both the US and South Korea are on a lose, lose path.
Pyongyang has responded with threats and war. Peeling back the wooden response, it is certainly in its rights to demand a full and thorough explanation of 'its blame' in the sunken 'Cheonan'.
As GuamDiary noted above, Seoul is not forthcoming in providing it. And in consequent, a reasonable doubt and questions remain.

Friday, May 14, 2010

US alms for Israel's 'Iron Dome' short range missile defence system

US president Barack Obama [BHO] is requesting US$205m to speed up Israel's construction of its short range missile defence system, to thwart Hamas' and Hezbollah's missile attacks. [Or perhaps this is a tissue of life, since the missile defence system will and can reach targets in Iran?]
US$205m is small beer compared to the billions which the US rate or taxpayer doles out annually to Israel without ever expecting Israel to pay back a pence.
Is BHO sweetening the pot so that unrepentent and unreconstructed revisionist Zionist that Israel's prime minister 'BiBi' Netenyahu will fall into lock step with America's designs for a two state solution?
Israel has little need for such a paltry sum, to complete 'Iron Dome' the fanciful name it's dubbed the short range missile defence system. Its military capabilities far outstrip Hamas' and Hezbollah's. If proof needs be for those with short term memories, look at the havoc Israel has wrought on Lebanon and Hamas within the last few years.
Hamas' rocketry is quite primative and Hezbollah's is less than accurate even though it sent scud missiles into the heart of northern Israel.
By comparison, Israel's military 'might' has visited much death and destruction on the Lebanonese and Palestinians living in Gaza.
Had US lawmakers their druthers, they would strip Israel of the largesse it deprives their own people, to sustain the warfare state in the Middle East that is Israel.
More US aid to Israel, including the tiny sum of US$205m, simply underscores the fact that Israel needs a US lifeline to remain in existence. It compounds with deadly interest the fact that this 'settler state' is nothing but a colony of the US in the Middle East, and without an 'imperial' protector's money, its days would remain limited and without a future.
Since Netenyahu & co. have a penchant for quoting from the 'Torah' and other books of the old Bible, they should full well know that the existence of the Kingdom of Judah depended fully upon Imperial Rome.
BHO would do better to redirect the untold billions that the US lavishes on Israel, for the benefit and wellfare of his own citizens.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Russia's Medvedev gets into Netenyahu's face

Israeli prime minister "Bibi" Netenyahu is hopping mad. Russia's president Dmitri Medvedev has just met with Hamas' Khaled Meshaal, the exiled head of Hamas, in the Syrian capital, Damascus. Mr. Medvedev has called upon Israel to engage in direct talks with Hamas.
Israel rejected the suggestion out of hand. Nonetheless, a more active Russia in the long search for a solution to the Palestinian Israel matter, is sending shock waves throughout the Israeli elite.
Suddenly, the right wing Israeli government is feeling the squeeze by the US Obama administration which is wanting to impose a denouement to more than 60 years of war and Israel's over the top recourse to military action and a two state solution on one hand, and now on the other an active Russian initiative calling for a dialogue where no party is excluded. Translation: the time is ripe to bring Hamas in from out of the cold.
Nothing is more an anathema to Israel, to say the least. But time is no longer on Mr. Netenyahu's side. One, he has chosen confrontation with the young American president, going so far as to embarass his vice president a staunch supporter of Israel. The Israeli prime minister has chosen even to thumb his nose at Mr. Obama by calling in chips from elected legislators in the two houses of Congress, and generating a smear campaign by the Jewish lobby. He is skating on thin ice, the more especially that it is becoming clearer that there are matters which the US differs significantly from Israel's concerns.
Mr. Medvedev sees a Russian role in the Middle East which is complimentary to US designs. He is not repeating the Soviet's mistakes which Yvegeny Primakov's 'Russia and the Arabs' cogently maps out.
Already, Moscow has sided with Washington in condemning Israel's illegal land grab in the Palestinian west bank and East Jerusalem. Seizures which blatantly violate international law and recognised boundaries.
Israel is reaping the whirlwind that it has sown. The UN Human Rights Commission's 'Goldstone Report' has put another nail in the coffin of Israel's martial response to conditions that it does not like; it behaves like the outlaw that the Israeli state has become in court of world opinion.
Mr. Netenyahu & co are losing traction; they are being backed into a corner, but like a wounded bull elephant it can lash out. But such petulance and carnage will sape the Israeli state of resources and friends and ultimately, it will be forced to sign a document for a two state solution which viscerally it reviles. But, it won't do it no good. Either it digs its own grave, or settle for peace with its Palestinian neighbours like it or not!

South Korea straining to pin blame on North Korea

A late minute update signals that the ROK [Republic of Korea aka South Korea] is slouching closer to pin blame on the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea] for the sinking of its navette 'Cheonan'.
A closer look at previous articles on the incident resulting in a loss of 46 lives, shows that it is couched in the conditional mood: a sure sign that it is proving very difficult to throw the weight of guilt on North Korea, which has denied any involvement.
The closest South Korea has come to advancing proof is the finding of a very thin trace of aluminium. Seoul therefore concludes that it was a torpedo from the North which sank its vessel. Yet the statement is inconclusive, and the exhibits of the 'prosecution' in the court of public opinion wanting. Yet, South Korea in its statements, is preparing world opinion to see the 'Cheonan' incident as it does.
The ROK president Lee Myung bek is facing a tough election in June. His party holds the cards, but the South Korean voters may not return the majority he now holds.
Proof positive of a North Korean hand in the sinking would surely turn the tide in his favour, and ramp up war fever in the southern half of a divided peninsula.
Mr. Lee is in no position to launch a war, so instead he is grandstanding.
North Korean watchers have already advanced scenarios of the DPRK's guilt. Some are more plausible than others, but the question remains as to what are they going to do?
Very little. The British Aidan Forster Carter is very much in this school of thought. Yet even he has become so disillusioned that he simply wishes that the DPRK would disappear from view.
The US scholars and diplomats in and out of government are for a show of strength. That tack has never worked.
The Korean American Victor Cha hits out at China for not corralling its ally the DPRK which is dependent on China for economic and food aid. He is impertinent enough to insult China by saying that until it does, China doesn't deserve to be recognised as a 'major power'.
In brief, these ways of thinking highlights what is known for a long time. The current government of the ROK and the Americans are not serious about negotiating with the DPRK. Little wonder, it is not an easy task, the more especially the list of items span at least 60 years.
For fear of looking weak, the George W Bush administration came up with the six power talks which have led to stalemate on one hand, and in Bush & co's adolescent show of bravado, to the DPRK becoming a nuclear power.
It is obvious that stupidly Seoul and Washington are buying time which is not in their favour. The longer they delay in dealing directly with the DPRK, the more difficult it becomes for them, and the longer crises continue.
Like the 'Cheonan' Washington and Seoul are fishing waters with loose mines and torpedo[e]s floating around at least from the Korean war.