Friday, December 31, 2010

South Korea: Between the DMZ and a hard place


It's navy ship was sunk and 46 sailors died. Then it's island was shelled with four people dying. As a result, South Korea has only now upgraded the status of North Korea to enemy. What were they before?

As the title says the South Korean government is in a quandary.

On the one hand it is dealing with a maniacal regime in the midst of leadership change. The result of that may be a new leader crazier than the old one, and that's pretty damn crazy.

Much like our fight in the war on terror or against a government the likes of the one in Iran, it is difficult to know how far an enemy such as North Korea would be willing to go. If they don't care whether their own people live or die then they certainly don't care about the civilians in another one.

On the other hand the South has the United States as its primary ally, a country with a leader whose military and foreign policy resolve can only be termed as questionable. This leader is of course Barack Obama whose main concern is seemingly his handicap as opposed to dealing with the critical situations occurring globally that pose a direct threat to our national security.

South Korea, seemingly taking its strategy out of the Obama playbook, is utilizing a hope and pray strategy with North Korea, an atheistic country where this prayer will most likely go unanswered. Hope that the North will cease hostilities, hope the North will not ratchet up hostilities even more, hope that the North will not go to a nuclear option and prayer that if one of the second two occurs that the United States will have its back.

This hope and pray is similar to the Obama administrations handling of both Iran and North Korea where the hope of negotiations and diplomacy, the outsourcing of responsibility to the U.N. and scolding rhetoric takes the place of any substantive action. We the common citizens pray that will work but have some very serious doubts.

The North is gathering forces and weapons at the DMZ (called the most dangerous swath of land in the world), is most likely responsible for the sinking of a South Korean navy vessel and has bombed the South's civilians. The South Korean government, to this point, has chosen to take the path of rhetoric versus retaliation as its response.

One would have to assume that North Korea is not looking for full-blown war as it must know that this would involve the United States as well. I say would only because the United States has in the neighborhood of 28,000 military troops stationed there, and there would be no way that President Obama could not respond.

The South, in yet another show of restraint has not tagged North Korea with the moniker of main enemy. I can only surmise that they are keeping the powder dry on that response for the next act of aggression by the North.

As we enter 2011 this will remain one of the global flash points that we will be dealing with.and Hopefully President Obama recognizes that while we don't hold all of the cards, the deck is definitely stacked in our favor if we are willing to play our hand. This, as opposed to letting the other players at the table push us around.

Finally, I would like to wish the readers of TPC (and everyone else), a very Happy New Year and hopes for a great 2011!

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