Friday, March 29, 2013
North Korea Beats The War Drums
Things are ramping up...
As of today. North Korea has announced that it is in a "state of war" with South Korea.
"As of now, inter-Korea relations enter a state of war and all matters between the two Koreas will be handled according to wartime protocol," the North said in a joint statement attributed to all government bodies and institutions.
This follows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's announcement that the armistice that ended the Korean War is over and open threats to attack the U.S. and 'other enemies'.
The Norks have cut off all channels with South Korea, including a hot line between the two countries. And the U.S.? Well, we warned them that military confrontation would lead to - wait for it- "further isolation."
Yep, if he attacks South Korea,or Japan, we'll cut off his shipments of porn movies and film and pop music memorabilia.And be really, really upset with him.
On the bright side, Catherine Wilkinson, a Pentagon spokesperson, said the US would not be intimidated. "The United States is fully capable of defending itself and our allies against a North Korean attack. We are firmly committed to the defense of South Korea and Japan."
That's a bit weightier than threatening the Norks with "further isolation". But it remains to be seen whether we follow through.
The entire Korea situation is an example of how weakness and appeasement in response to aggression only brings on more of the same..and always at a higher cost.
The West made a huge and needless mistake agreeing to a partition of Korea after WWII, just as there was no reason not to demand that the Soviets pull their armies out of Eastern Europe after the Nazis were defeated.In Europe, President Roosevelt,steered by Soviet agents in his administration like Harry Dexter White, Lauchlin Curtie and Alger Hiss chose to believe Stalin's assurances, and so did Harry Truman, who kept the same Roosevelt advisers in place after FDR's death.
There's no question that America, as the sole atomic power after WWII, with an army in place and the Soviets decimated and dependent on the U.S. for military supplies couldn't have given Stalin an ultimatum he couldn't afford to refuse, sent the Red Army packing back to Russia and freed Eastern Europe.Even Stalin knew that the Red Army was not ready for another war.
The rationale for allowing a partition of Korea was more of the same. It was a bribe to the Russians to aid the U.S. in what was seen as the high cost prospective invasion of the Japanese home islands. Once that was unnecessary after Japan;s surrender, there was no reason to allow the partition of Korea and had Truman stood up to Soviets, they would have had no choice but to withdraw.
Truman later compounded the error by ignoring South Korean leader Sygman Rhee's frantic request for heavy weapons, artillery and increased military assistance as Rhee watched the Nork's Soviet sponsored military buildup on his borders. When the North Koreans invaded, our troops on the ground in South Korea lacked even enough basic ammo, let alone anti-tank weapons and they were completely overwhelmed and forced back to a narrow defensive redoubt.
Korea has been called the Forgotten War, but it was also an unnecessary one.
Even after the war started and General MacArthur had landed at Inchon and driven the enemy forces back to the Chinese border, Truman declined to take the steps that would have enabled victory - diplomatic negotiations with the Chinese that would have resulted in clear borders and a united Korea. That was possible even after the Chinese came in (as China always has when what they consider enemy forces are too close to their borders), although it might have required a few strikes on Chinese military installations as necessary once that happened to underline the need to Mao Tse Tung for a diplomatic solution.
It's worth remembering in this context that China only came in after Soviet assurances that they would back them..assurances which later proved as empty as the ones Stalin made to Roosevelt and Truman at Yalta.
Instead of solving the problem, we settled for an armistice that left a poisonous regime in place.
The Kim regime has been gaming the West ever since...seizing the odd U.S. ship here and there, making agreements it had no intention of keeping, issuing numerous threats, attacking South Korean ships and territory, and acting as a major rogue nuclear weapons proliferator - all without any significant action by the West,and especially by the U.S.
It's the Iranian story all over again.Aside from enabling the Kim regime to survive in the first place after blatant aggression, we've never made the North Koreans suffer any significant cost for their actions since. Is it any wonder they're upping the ante? Or that they have no fear of U.S.response whatsoever?
That's what comes of kicking the can down the road for half a century.
The key to this situation, of course, is China. The best way of handling this would be to make it crystal clear to the Chinese that the present regime, (especially since they're armed with nuclear weapons) is unacceptable and threatens the U.S./China relationship. If we're smart and take note of history, we would offer the Chinese our support and assistance in a team effort in getting the Kims out, their nukes destroyed. And we would offer them the carrot of our acquiescence in their putting another regime in power to their liking to act as a buffer on their border, which is essentially what China wants North Korea for anyway.
This is not something that's going to be solved by a well written, nicely delivered speech loaded on to a teleprompter. And it will be interesting to see how President Obama and his team handle this.