Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Who Prokoved Whom in Yŏnpyŏngdo?



Justin Raimondo, echoing the above RT story posted at the Lewrockwell.com Blog, calls the "[l]atest incident a provocation – but by whom?" — Korean Conundrum: Is There a Way Out? He notes, rightly, that "the South Koreans were conducting military 'exercises' near the disputed island, which North Korea claims as its territory, and South Korean ships had opened fire, albeit – they claim – not in the direction of the North Korean mainland."

Mr. Raimondo also suggests that "the military exercises, code-named 'Hoguk,' involving all four branches of the South Korean armed forces and some 70,000 troops, simulated an attack on North Korea, and were meant to provoke the North Koreans, who responded as might be expected." He continues, "US troops were supposed to have participated in the exercises, but apparently the Americans thought better of it and pulled back at the last moment – perhaps because they knew a provocation was in the making."

He goes on to argue, even more pointedly, "For the South Koreans to conduct military exercises in this explosive region, never mind firing off rounds, is nothing but a naked provocation of the sort the West routinely ascribes to Pyongyang. In the context of North Korea’s recent revelation that it is increasing its nuclear capacity, the South Korean military maneuvers were meant to elicit a violent response – and succeeded in doing so."

"The chief obstacle to peace in the Korean peninsula hasn’t been North Korean intransigence, or South Korea’s enmity, but the intervention of the superpowers," he says, suggesting, "There is but one solution to the Korean conundrum: the complete withdrawal of US troops, who are being held hostage, in any event, by the prospect of a North Korean nuclear strike." He concludes, "Then and only then will peace blossom on the Korean peninsula."

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15 Comments:

Blogger setnaffa said...

So just surrender... You won't have a war if you just surrender... I won't shoot you if you just give me your wallet, your car keys, and let me rape your wife...

There is a time to do the right thing, not just the easy thing. And allowing foreign tyrants to kill your citizens and control diplomacy is absurd.

2:30 AM  
Blogger kushibo said...

Pure pro-Pyongyang apologist b.s.

Even if North Korea's claim were true, Pyongyang respond to shells fired in disputed waters — in a pre-announced exercise — by firing on civilians in undisputed territory? Left that part out, Mr Raimondo.

4:53 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

The question is, was it prudent to stage military exercises with live ammunition in disputed waters?

About the firing on civilians, even a mainstream shill like Donald Kirk conceded: "The North Koreans may well have been gunning for military targets, but collateral damage was inevitable in an attack in which one at least one South Korean marine was killed and a dozen others wounded" -- North Korean shells aim to shock.

9:04 AM  
Blogger kushibo said...

Let me turn the question around: Is it prudent to not put force into your claim over the disputed waters? Setting aside for a moment the unreasonable nature of North Korea's claim over these waters, the military exercises occurred in waters that South Korea has controlled on their side of the de facto maritime border since the Korean War. To not patrol the "disputed" waters, where civilians fish and conduct other peaceful economic activities, would be abdicating national authority and endangering one's citizens.

Now let's consider the nature of the dispute. Actually, I'm not even sure if North Korea ever did patrol these "disputed" waters, perhaps not even during the time they briefly controlled most of the peninsula. Prior to the war, the Ongjin Peninsula just north of these South Korean islands was under ROK jurisdiction, as it lies south of the 38°N parallel.

The NLL (the blue line on the second map here) is essentially drawn from the internationally recognized principle of equidistance, with those ROK islands off DPRK's conquered coast projecting maritime territory.

North Korea's claim that an equidistant line (the red line in the above link) be drawn from the Mainland territories, with South Korea granted a bubble around each island and an access corridor, is unreasonable from just about any standard.

That is is using the bogus "disputed" waters notion to bolster the military side of the murderous regime makes me wonder about the sense of anyone who would give it more than a minute or so of consideration.

Finally, I am dumbfounded that you or Don Kirk (and I know him IRL, by the way) would provide any semblance of cover for the North Koreans murdering ROK civilians (or military personnel for that matter) because — whoops! — we meant to bomb your military targets in our trumped-up military incident and not your civilians.

They knew perfectly well that there are about 1500 civilians on that small island, that island is not disputed territory, and even their shells that landed in the water were not landing in "disputed" waters.

Up to a point, I can understand the "America First" proclaimers such as yourself and their desire to see the US vacate all foreign lands, but now you're even questioning South Korea's business defending South Korea. Frankly, WC, I'm surprised (and a little disappointed).

10:02 AM  
Blogger kushibo said...

Let me turn the question around: Is it prudent to not put force into your claim over the disputed waters? Setting aside for a moment the unreasonable nature of North Korea's claim over these waters, the military exercises occurred in waters that South Korea has controlled on their side of the de facto maritime border since the Korean War. To not patrol the "disputed" waters, where civilians fish and conduct other peaceful economic activities, would be abdicating national authority and endangering one's citizens.

Now let's consider the nature of the dispute. Actually, I'm not even sure if North Korea ever did patrol these "disputed" waters, perhaps not even during the time they briefly controlled most of the peninsula. Prior to the war, the Ongjin Peninsula just north of these South Korean islands was under ROK jurisdiction, as it lies south of the 38°N parallel.

The NLL (the blue line on the second map here) is essentially drawn from the internationally recognized principle of equidistance, with those ROK islands off DPRK's conquered coast projecting maritime territory.

North Korea's claim that an equidistant line (the red line in the above link) be drawn from the Mainland territories, with South Korea granted a bubble around each island and an access corridor, is unreasonable from just about any standard.

That is is using the bogus "disputed" waters notion to bolster the military side of the murderous regime makes me wonder about the sense of anyone who would give it more than a minute or so of consideration.

Finally, I am dumbfounded that you or Don Kirk (and I know him IRL, by the way) would provide any semblance of cover for the North Koreans murdering ROK civilians (or military personnel for that matter) because — whoops! — we meant to bomb your military targets in our trumped-up military incident and not your civilians.

They knew perfectly well that there are about 1500 civilians on that small island, that island is not disputed territory, and even their shells that landed in the water were not landing in "disputed" waters.

Up to a point, I can understand the "America First" proclaimers such as yourself and their desire to see the US vacate all foreign lands, but now you're even questioning South Korea's business defending South Korea. Frankly, WC, I'm surprised (and a little disappointed).

10:02 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Force, yes, and lots of it. Provocative war games? No.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

When it comes to South Korea, interventionist arguments either head down the path of 1) a "tough" response whose disastrous implications they ignore or 2) incoherence, because they have considered the calamity at stake but can't bring themselves to back down and not look "tough."

America isn't likely to leave South Korea because it's politically untenable at home and would have a serious, albeit temporary effect on the economy here. But that's the only chance of progress in relations. The presence of American troops the North can caricature as hook-nosed bloodthirsty imperialists is the best PR tool the Kim regime could ask for.

3:22 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Rob, I agree fully. Reading your remarks, I'm reminded that the for the military establishments of both North Korea and the US, the American presence in South Korea is a winner.

1:25 AM  
Blogger kushibo said...

Western Confucian wrote:
Force, yes, and lots of it. Provocative war games? No.

The problem with your assessment is that everything is provocative to North Korea. Do you read much KCNA? Even the KORUS FTA is provocative to them. Hosting the G20 was provocative.

The NLL, though never formally established, has been the de facto border for years. It is fairly recently that North Korea has began to make considerable bluster about it, with calculated moves such as this to bolster their bluster.

South Korea is merely defending its territory with shows of force. That this part of a very long litany of things North Korea labels as "provocative" is immaterial, and it certainly doesn't justify shelling civilians (or even military targets) somewhere else.

1:36 AM  
Blogger kushibo said...

Rob wrote:
The presence of American troops the North can caricature as hook-nosed bloodthirsty imperialists is the best PR tool the Kim regime could ask for.

"The best"? Hardly. The puppet ROK government is the best tool, and even if USFK departed, Seoul would still be labeled as traitors and puppets of the Americans and the Japanese. Even if no ties existed between the US and South Korea, then the Japanese would be put in the "insert imperialist power here" blank of the KCNA reports. Even now, the KCNA points out, as news, what the Japanese did decades ago, and it would be an easy replacement.

So is the solution then to get rid of Japan as well? If we keep getting rid of the things that piss off or provoke North Korea then they'll stop being so mad? Is that how it works?

Or would they just find another replacement for the top spot on their list, since an enemy is all they need?

If you think that the Pyongyang regime is angry just because the US presence is here, or that they were scared and thus provoked into the Yŏnpyŏngdo attack, you are being duped by their carefully crafted propaganda.

1:40 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

kushibo, I appreciate your points, but I don't think anyone takes the KCNA seriously, especially the North Koreans.

(I recommend James Church's "Inspector O" series for insights into the North Korean psyche. They're just normal people, living under what Srdja Trifkovic called "a surreal mix of Stalinist central planning and Maoist autarky.")

Like the rest of us, North Koreans are ruled over by a bunch of lying, jackbooted gangsters, only more so and they're less sophisticated about it. Washington and P'yŏngyang need some serious co-dependency therapy.

1:56 AM  
Blogger kushibo said...

I'm not suggesting the KCNA should be taken seriously as a factual account of anything (although it can be surprisingly accurate, like the reports on Laura Ling's and Euna Lee's capture and what they were doing). Its value is as a gauge of what's happening ideologically and what the regime is trying to get the people to believe (which is why I'm skeptical that the Kim Jong-un ascension is as much of a done deal as the Western media makes it out to be).

My reason for citing KCNA is that it is the mouthpiece and they have killed the notion of "provocation" and "threat" to North Korea with gross overuse.

Overkill. It is meaningless, and to suggest then that South Korea was somehow responsible for the murder of its citizens because it committed one of the myriad normal activities of state that North Korea screams is "provocative" is way off the mark.

3:08 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

We agree on one thing: McCune-Reischauer is a far better romanizatiuon system.

I see your point about the KCNA and now understand what you were saying, but calling the South's war games "provocative" is not to excuse the North for its disproportional response.

The AP reported that the incident began when "Pyongyang warned the South to halt military drills in the area" and "Seoul refused and began firing artillery into disputed waters" -- South Korea Fired the First Shot.

Key phrase = "disputed waters."

9:41 AM  
Blogger kushibo said...

Bogusly disputed waters.

North Korea has not controlled those waters except for the brief period when they occupied South Korea.

The NLL has for all intents and purposes been the de facto border, it follows internationally established guidelines, it has been consistently enforced.

North Korea's declaration that "there is in the West Sea of Korea only the maritime military demarcation line set by the DPRK"" is about as legitimate as if a rogue government took over Mexico, declared the Treaty of Guadalupe null and void, and then started bombing American towns on the US side of the border if any of them (like cops) walked by with guns.

Just because you can say "disputed" doesn't really make it so.

What do you prescribe? South Korea should not conduct military exercises in the waters around the most vulnerable islands in its territory? That's nonsense.

12:01 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Disputed territory is by its definition bogus to the other side.

Yes, South Korea should not conduct military exercises in the waters around the most vulnerable islands in its territory. Caution is the better part of valor.

You don't see India or Pakistan playing war games in Kashmir, but they don't have the luxury of having Uncle Sam to fall back on. South Korea probably would have been far more cautious had it known it alone would bear the consequences of any repercussions.

6:21 PM  

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