Okay, for what it is worth. Yes, I know about this.
SEOUL, South Korea — The South Korean military went to “crisis status” on Tuesday and threatened military strikes after the North fired dozens of shells at a South Korean island, killing two of the South’s soldiers and setting off an exchange of fire in one of the most serious clashes between the two sides in decades.
President Lee Myung-bak met with security-related ministers and senior aides in the underground situation room at the Blue House, the presidential office and residence, and promised “a strenuous retaliation” if there was any further provocation, said the chiefpresidential spokesman, Hong Sang-pyo.
The North blamed the South for starting the exchange; the South acknowledged firing test shots in the area but denied that any had fallen in the North’s territory. It was in the same area that a South Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan, was sunk in March, killing 46 sailors. Seoul blamed a North Korean torpedo attack; the North has denied any role.
The United States, Britain and Japan on Tuesday condemned the latest attack. The White House called on North Korea to “halt its belligerent action.” American officials tracking the episode said that a total of 175 artillery shells had been exchanged by the two sides.
The South Korean Defense Ministry said that in addition to the two soldiers who were killed, 15 soldiers and 3 civilians were wounded. There was no immediate sense of the North’s casualties.
Television footage showed large plumes of black smoke spiraling from the island, and news reports said dozens of houses were on fire. The South put its fighter planes on alert but they did not take off.
Now, how do I feel like about this? Well, before I give my personal, Ed Morrissey gives a good assessment of what is happening here:
- Attention – The six-party talks have stalled for a while. With their recent disclosure of a new uranium-enrichment facility, this is probably sword-rattling to focus attention on Pyongyang and to get its enemies to cough up more concessions.
- Test – Kim has tested the mettle of every American President to determine how committed each is to South Korea’s security. Last year’s provocative missile launches showed that Barack Obama wasn’t committed at all to missile defense, and the sinking of a South Korean ship a few months ago didn’t prompt much more than finger-wagging from Washington. Nor did we do much after seizing a ship exporting banned arms to Burma.
- Succession – Kim is very ill, and he needs to secure the succession to the third generation of his family. It will be difficult for any opponents in the military to suppress his son while he has them busy in a Great Patriotic War. It will be especially difficult if this attack nets the DPRK tangible concessions in negotiations with the US and Japan.
Addendum: This incident also shows the anachronistic priorities of the Obama administration on foreign policy and international security. Obama has pressed the Senate for immediate action on a new START treaty, whose predecessor aimed at ending an arms race with a country that literally no longer exists and an enemy that has since stopped being an acute military threat to the US. Meanwhile, the nuclear crises in North Korea and Iran continue apace, with no sense of urgency by this administration except when provocations like this occur
So far, the response has been predictable. China, Kim’s closest ally, has called for a return to the six-party talks — even though the revelation of the new uranium-enrichment facility violates all of the agreements Kim made in that process. If it’s a temper tantrum, it’s getting the desired result, at least for the moment.
The only thing that I have to add to this is this; we should, as much as we possibly can, stay out of this. We should be, which I see now, that we are — putting the pressure on China to take a stand against North Korea. Further more, I think we also should enable, somehow or another; Japan to make it very clear to North Korea, that if they continue this stupidity that they might end up regretting it.
I mean, I consider myself to me a Paleo-Conservative and War is not something that I really look forward to — however, when I see stuff like this here, people that have done nothing at all, getting their houses hit by missiles; that tends to really piss me off. I also believe that we should call this, for what it is — and that is terrorism. Regardless of the motivation, these people were terrorized by some asshole, who is basically being some sort of a attention whoring prima donna. Now, in any other case, I would not use that sort of language to describe a person. But in this case, it is totally appropriate.
Now, as for the Obama Administration; I will refrain from criticizing them. Because I do not believe that any other Republican or even the Bush Administration would do anything different.
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