Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year in a divided Korean peninsula

North Korea's three major newspapers expressed a 2011 desire for better relationship with South Korea. The headlines did not beat around the bush. They called on the South to open discussions, 'as soon as possible' in order to 'relax tensions'. And the land divide at the DMZ and especially on watery borders in the Yellow sea are on high alert in the wake of an exchange of fire along the NLL [Northern Limit Line] along North Korea's territory.
The stakes are indeed high, the more particularly the South's shelling of North Korean waters in November 2010, brought retaliatory fire with casualties on the military installation on the island of Yeonpyeong hardly 10 km from North Korean waters.
The North does not shy away from the fact that the South's increasing joint military drills with the US since the sinking of the 'Cheonan' [the cause of which remains, as GuamDiary noted, under a cloud of doubt as to Pyongyang's guilt].
The exchange of fire between the South and the North is symptomatic of the danger of South Korea's president Lee Myung bak's brinksmanship [see the leaked diplomatic cable which appeared in the 'Guardian', 29 November 2010]. A policy which has made the former governor of New Mexico greatly uneasy since one miscalculation would renew war on the Korean peninsula, and might not rule out the use of nuclear weapons.
Pyongyang in its New Year's greetings called for the suspension of these naval drills and avoid any tripwire to confrontation.
Lee had publicly stated that he wanted 'dialogue' with the North. His words are welcome, but ...
His American pro consul, the Obama administration remains obscure in backing up Lee's wishes and in no way, seemed willing to suspend military exercises in what it sees as 'North Korea's underbelly' along the NLL in the Yellow sea.
The thinking in Seoul and in Washington is 'the North broke the rules laid down' by them. As such, the South and US allow themselves the right to 'escalate' the conflict between them and the North. Since Seoul and Washington have barely a passing contact with Pyongyang, they set themselves up as judge and jury and proclaim to a confused and ignorant world that justice is on their side. They have set the rules -- even though the North does not recognise them -- and in a distortion of the truth and reality, they are unwilling almost nothing to change the situation.
In the lunatic policy South Korea and the US have set up, they see an opportunity to push the North to the limit as Pyongyang is going through a transition of power. They have bet on the death of Kim Jong il and the elevation to power of his son and chosen successor Kim Jong eun. The younger recently nominated 4 star general is very wet behind the ears, and so he will be a weak reed and one unable to keep the DPRK from collapse.
The West's North Korea clerisy nod in agreement with this scenario. And what's more, they foresee that China will come in and pick up the pieces but ultimately will cede to South Korea the full control of a reunified Korean peninsula.
GuamDiary wonders have they, like the lotus eaters in the 'Odyssey', tasted the narotic of self delusion? Have they moved so off the pier of history, that the role of China in the Korean War and its assessment of South Korea today as a state hostile to the peninsula's geopolitical reality under no circumstance would Beijing agree to one Korea under Seoul's dominance.
For the moment, we have to see whether Lee will live up to his words. For, there is a clear and present danger of war in Korea. Seoul and the US cannot hide behind the cover of 'it's the North to blame' when an honest assessment of events points to the double dealing they are engaged in.

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