Monday, May 24, 2010

War Drums In Korea

The standoff between North Korea and South Korea is worsening.

The two countries have been on a de facto war since the North Korean invasion of the 1950's (like most wars the UN has had any thing to do with, that one was resolved not by victory but by a ceasefire in place)but the torpedoing of the South Korean naval corvette Cheonan in March has ratcheted up the tension to a dangerous point.

The sinking of the Cheonan which killed 46 South Korean sailors has been attributed to a North Korean submarine by a team of international investigators.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has demanded that "North Korea immediately apologize and punish those responsible for the attack, and, most importantly, stop its belligerent and threatening behavior."

Needless to say, the North Korean have denied any responsibility and threatened war if any sanctions or what they termed 'punishment' results from this.

According to a White House statement today, President Barack Obama "fully supports" the South Korean president, and said that South Korea can count on the full backing of the U.S.

Here's what in play.

The U.S. still has about 28,000 troops in South Korea, while the two Koreas, have more than 1 million troops near their borders on the DMZ.

The North Koreans also have missiles and artillery trained on the South Korean capitol, Seoul, which is close to the border and well within range.

The wild card in all this is China, who is North Korea's closest trading partner and enabler.

The North depends on South Korea and China for up to 80% of its trade and 35% of its GDP. In 2009, inter-Korean trade stood at about $1.68billion, which works out to about 13% of the North's GDP from trade with South Korea alone, most of which comes from the joint Kaesong trade facility.

China enjoys keeping North Korea as a sort of pitbull to guard what China has always considered its outlands. You'll remember, the Chinese only entered the Korean War after UN troops, mainly Americans invaded the North and started getting close to China's border.

Interestingly enough, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton happened to be in Peking when all this heated up, and she is said to be talking to China about diplomatic action.

The likely real story, hidden on the back pages has to do with Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner, who started a trip to Beijing for an economic summit by taking a hard line on China's trade restrictions and currency manipulation but subsequently softened his tone considerably.

An interesting coincidence....North Korea heats up the peninsula with 28,000 US troops involved and suddenly the US is a lot more willing to overlook certain economic practices of North Korea's Big Brother.

What will probably come of all this is a meaningless UN Security resolution urging peace, love n' cooperation between the parties....especially since the South Koreans are divided on whether to go to war with a slew of missiles and artillery pointed at their capitol, and I have a distinct feeling that Obama's 'backing' of the South Koreans is very likely not extending to actual hostilities.

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louielouie said...

south korea should assume the position formerly held by rev. wright, formerly held by bibi.

B.Poster said...

I actual hostitilies erupted, the United States would lose. It does not have the military capacity to successfully confront North Korea or China in a conventional military confrontation right now. this is esepcially evident when considering the distance from the American mainland that is involved and the logistics that would be involved. Furthermore South Korea definitely doesn't have the capacitiy to win a war with North Korea. If I'm aware of this, the American military commanders are to and are probably advising the President accordingly.

Our best bet would be to immediately withdraw all of our forces from South Korea and redeploy them to defensibile positions in America, probably along our borders. I'm glad that apparently our leaders understand that going to war with North Korea or China over South Korea is an unwinnable proposition. I jsut wish they would also understand the neccessity of securing our borders.

Finally, Mr. Geithner is either a very stupid man or he is blinded by his ideology. When one is faced with a stronger individual than themselves, there are prudent steps one can take for self defense, however, one DOES NOT go around poking fingers in this individual's eyes.