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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dustup in Korea

Today's Washington Post has this article:  "South Korea to officially blame North Korea for March torpedo attack on warship".
SEOUL -- South Korea's foreign minister said Wednesday the sinking of one of its warships in March was the result of a North Korean attack, adding that his country now has enough evidence to seek action by the U.N. Security Council against the North.

"It's obvious," Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said. His remarks were the first by a South Korean official to pin definitive blame on North Korea for an attack that killed 46 sailors and sharply escalated tension on the Korean Peninsula.
That seems pretty straight forward.

And, 46 dead seems pretty straight forward.  I bet that was headlined in big type in Republic of Korea (ROK) newspapers.

So, here we have South Korea, a non-nuclear state, asking the UN to sanction the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), a nuclear state.  This will be an interesting case study and an indication of what might happen if we ever got around to trying to apply sanctions against a nuclear armed Iran.

Here is one person's view, after talking about taking this to the UN:
For some of the other responses it is doubtful there will be a direct militry response.  However, we will likely see a reinforcement of the P-Y Do and Y-P Do island garrisons as well as a larger Naval presence especially in preparation for the Crab Wars next month.  Also we might now see aggresive ROK support of the Proliferation Security Initiative.  I think we might also see more international support for sanctions.

But the question on whether there will be a direct ROK military response and more than a pin prick I would be interested in what targets someone might propose that would acheieve any kind of effect and then I would be curious to know what the proposed response would be when the north responds to the ROK strike.

I think we are going to see some positive leadership by President Lee, and despite likely pressure from political opposition and of course the families and even senior ROK military leaders, he will not conduct any kind of direct military attack against the north in response the sinking.  A strike will feel good emotionally for a little while but the escalation that likely will occur should be considered.  Think about when the north revokes it's pledge to not threaten ROK airspace—what happens to the ROK economy when the world's number one airport in the world—Inchon no longer has commercial airliners willing to fly into it due to potential north Korean threats.  And that is just one possible response.

The most important thing for the alliance and the international community is to ensure that the North Korean strategy of conducting provocations to gain political and economic concessions is thwarted.  Thus the most important response is to do everything possible to ensure the North in no way benefits from this provocation.

And of course, the regime may very well attempt to diffuse this by blaming Vice Marshall Kim Il chol for conducting a rogue operation (even though no such action could have occurred without regime sanction).
So, is it to be war, or sanctions, or another small victory for the DPRK?

Stake your claim as a strategic thinker in the Comments Section.

As for me, I am stating that (1) the UN will do nothing, (2) South Korea will take it out on the DPRK during Crab Season, and (3) the United States will stand by in support of South Korea re policing the Crab Season, but otherwise do nothing.

Regards  —  Cliff

1 comment:

C R Krieger said...

Commenting on one's own blog post is weak, but there was an OpEd in The New York Times that pushes the idea of diplomacy as the best approach WRT North Korea.

I am not one to disparage diplomacy.

Regards  —  Cliff