Partyin' on the Pennisula
Day before Thanksgiving, and for the umpteenth time in the last 50 years, the North Korean bandit kingdom reminds us all that the peninsular conflict is still unresolved and smoldering like a red hot ember buried in cold ash.
On Monday, North Korea launched a shocking artillery shelling on a South Korean military installation. Two South Korean military personnel were killed in the bombardment. The action is only the latest in a series of dangerous escalations. In March, a South Korean warship was torpedoed, killing 46 crewmen. Although Pyongyang denies it, the South Koreans contend that North Korea was responsible.
North Korea has 5 decades of experience in brinkmanship. And, really, short of full scale war, the international community has no leverage. North Korea is already impoverished and isolated diplomatically. There are no further economic measures that the world community can impose.
Last night, President Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak agreed to conduct joint military exercises --exercises that are to include the USS George Washington and her supporting armada --in response to the latest provocation. Rattling sabers. Another rung up the ladder toward Ragnarok.
In 2003, Junior Bush initiated the Six-party Talks in an attempt to bring together the six regional powers (North Korea, South Korea, Russia, Japan, China, and the United States) to resolve outstanding issues. Those talks haven't borne much fruit. But they have made clear one prominent fact: the Chinese, to whom North Korea is a client state, hold the trump card. Beijing is the one power center that has any influence at all over the North Koreans. And, to the extent that the Chinese allow North Korea to behave in this incredibly dangerous fashion, one must assume that China deems her client's actions to serve Chinese interests.
Analysts of every stripe struggle to attribute motives to the inscrutable North Korean leadership. Some say that the North Koreans are demonstrating unity and political will in an attempt to warn off the outside world, to put to rest any rumors about instability as Krazy Kim prepares to depart this mortal plane. Some say this is a primitive attempt at extorting international aid from the world community. But no one knows for sure. Perhaps not even the North Koreans.
Dangerous world. Pray for peace.