-NY Times, 11/27/2010
If you read and understood that, you will see that China has given us exactly the help we needed to de-fuse the Korean situation that we created.
Anyone who is disappointed that the Chinese didn’t publically criticize North Korea is not thinking realistically. To take the US side against their ally in their own back yard would be seen as weak and a betrayal. Whatever advice they have for North Korea will be kept private.
So why haven’t we heard that our State Department has responded “Yes, now that you mention it, perhaps we should postpone those maneuvers.”, or something to that effect?
We should be grateful that China has given us a valid reason for that change in plans; that now we can say we are doing so out of respect for the wishes of the Chinese, in the interest of continued good relations…and not because North Korea has made threats.
It should not take much deep thought to realize that when it is desirable to calm a situation that could get out of control, running around making loud noises and extending the middle finger is probably not the best plan.
That is essentially what we have been doing with periodic war games activities with South Korea’s military, intended as an intimidating reminder of our presence and interests, and gestures of disapproval of North Korea’s nuclear weapons development. Since the end of the Cold War we have worked to maintain tension between the Koreas enough to justify maintaining our base and troops there.
It is the sort of international power game better left unplayed, or at least done much more carefully, since it we are placing the lives of South Koreans at risk when we go too far.
President Clinton took a much more intelligent approach to North Korea in the effort to divert their nuclear weaponization program. A major problem in that country is an energy shortage. The light-water reactor they just completed was originally to be done with US assistance as part of a deal to dismantle their reactor being used to produce weapons-grade plutonium.
The advantage of being a helpful and cooperative nation in the development of peaceful nuclear energy is that it facilitates monitoring their use and inspection and forms the basis of a friendly relationship, rather than attempting to intimidate and economically punish the other country for pursuing its own. The hostility of that tactic increases incentive to develop weaponry, and reduces trust.
For the immediate situation, the best course should be absolutely clear. Listen to the helpful request from China: suspend the war games.
–cosmic rat 11/27/2010