Monday, May 24, 2010

[A Rising South Korea] More on the handling of the Cheonan disaster/fiasco

When thinking of the Cheonan disaster/fiasco, probably a couple things that some people might think include whether the whole thing is a conspiracy -- as in why would North Korea do something so self-destructive and it seems to extremeley convenient for the Japanese  Prime Minister to renege on his campaign promises of moving U.S. bases off Okinawa-- and, also, whether South Korea unlike during previous administration has been doing the right thing by internationalizing the incident. But, of course, there is the evidence conducted by experts from South Korea, the United States, Japan, Australia -- and Sweden. (I wonder if they chose Sweden out of their expertise or because the name is not too different from Switzerland.)

Anyways, consider the recent announcement of combined U.S. - ROK naval exercises.
US-South Korean naval exercises tend to be smaller scale. Last week, the US cancelled a previously scheduled annual event called “Courageous Channel,” a naval exercise intended to practice the evacuation of noncombatants from the Korean peninsula. At the time, US military officials said that they did not want North Korea to think that the exercise, set to run from May 20-24, was a response to the Cheonan incident.

Now the US apparently wants to make the opposite impression, by announcing naval exercises billed as a direct response to the Cheonan’s sinking. According to a White House statement, President Obama has ordered his military commanders to coordinate closely with South Korea “to ensure readiness and to deter future aggression” by North Korea.
But, anyways, back to earlier posts, it's interesting to see the stark difference between what the U.S. is saying and what China is not saying.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
I will be discussing these issues with my counterparts in Beijing next week, and then I will travel to Seoul, to consult with our South Korean partners about the way forward. But let me be clear. This will not be and cannot be business as usual. There must be an international -- not just a regional, but an international -- response (US-Japan Joint Press Conference).
This suggests that the U.S. has not and will not simply be able to trade away a new round of UNSC sanctions on North Korea in exchange for China's announced support -- on the same day -- for a new round of sanctions against Iran. So, for a country such as South Korea that seeks so much prestige and respect as an independent and powerful country -- e.g. U.N. Security General, G-20 presidency, and the strange usage of trying to sound out Chinese names rather than use the Korean characters associated with each Chinese character. I simply cannot understand why some would like to go back to the Sunshine Policy.  

On a side note, with respect to Iran what is with upstart Brazil? Out of nowhere Brazil, which sits comfortably in South America, is naively complicating things that's in the best interest for the rest of the world.

Anyways, I believe what the U.S. Secretary of State was referring to when she used the term "not just a regional but an international response" is the trilateral meetings between China-Japan-South Korea in Gyeongju, South Korea (May 15th) -- home to the historical capital of Silla, which has symbolic imporance as Pyongyang was also the historical capital for a rival state on the Korean peninsula, Gogouryeo and those to be held at the end of the month in Jeju Island again at the foreign minister/secretary of state level. By the way, anybody take notice of how strange it is that while they take this to the United Nations, what nationality the U.N. Security Security General holds?

Anyways, consider U.S. remarks next to that of the Chinese...
But while expressing condolences for the South Korean sailors who died aboard the Cheonan, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi merely reaffirmed Beijing's stance that "a scientific and objective investigation is important." Yang did not mention the possibility of a link between North Korea and the shipwreck (Chosun Ilbo).
This was before proof of North Korean involvement was put on display. A very big difference how this incident is being handled and, say, the kidnapping of South Korean fishermen and the shoooting of a civilian in Mount Geumgang.

With respect to arguing directly against the rather ridiculous positions -- blame the South Korean President?! -- taken by the South Korean left recently, I'll defer to the regular Korea bloggers.

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