Friday, July 16, 2010

An Update to the Cheonan Saga

It seems everything that I was advocating has happened and I'm delighted.

South Korean President Lee Myung Bak internationalized the issue to the point, where North Korea is now talking to the UN -- rather than South Korea -- about the Cheonan incident, a token UN resolution has been passed (more token it could not be), and it appears U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is again headed over to Seoul -- this time before heading to the ASEAN gathering.

This was almost exactly what I had been advocating since the beginning of the Cheonan incident. With a token slap of sanctions against North Korea, an opportunistic United States can take advantage of this situation -- I personally see a strong US-ROK alliance to be in the long term best interests of South Korea -- to strengthen US-ROK ties (again, here, there is the recent announcement by U.S. President Barak Obama in Toronto to look into the stalled KORUS FTA -- the only substantive policy change I had hoped this Cheonan incident would help foster -- and to agree to extend the deadline of wartime leadership of South Korean forces to South Korea to until 2015), use this incident by South Korean President Lee Myung Bak to marginalize Chinese regional leadership in front of at least the eyes of South Koreans, and, of course, to not really take any real punitive measures against North Korea -- which, hopefully, will crumble on her own accord shortly.

Pretty much, thanks to a foolish North Korean excursion and Chinese indecisiveness, the United States position has strengthened considerably in the region with no cost to the United States whatsoever. There is even continued talk of a U.S. aircraft carrier heading to the Yellow Sea, which while I have stated to be quite amusing, I find to be an amazing event in and of itself and shows exactly to what extent South Korea's internationalizing of the issue has brought about. China wants six party talks again...

This should put China on notice: it seems incredibly ironic that rather than China unleashing North Korea on South Korea/U.S., this incident has been more of the United States unleashing South Korea against North Korea. (Consider the rare nervous press release given by the North Korean military).

So, what now?

The narrative of the Cheonan is not quite yet over. Now, I think we wait until the U.S.S. George Washington arrives in the Yellow Sea/East Sea (of China) and read Chinese state run editorials stammering away helplessly -- while understanding that they must be privately fuming at North Korea. We watch to see what will come of the KORUS FTA and, of course, the joint press release that will be given when the U.S. Secretary of State pays a visit to one of the United States allies in the region.

And, of course, we should give credit where credit is due -- to South Korean President Lee Myung Bak and U.S. President Barak Obama for capitalizing perfectly on very poor decisions on the part of North Korea and the lack of any decision on the part of China. It seems China is quick to ask the rest of the world to recognize the changing economic balance of power in Asia, but China is even slower to to recognize the tectonic shift in not only the military and economic, but political balance of power on the Korean Peninsula.

Note: On a side note, is anybody else following how amazing the South Korean economy seems to performing? It appears the highly export dependent economy has grown over 7% in the first half of this year -- which makes it look as if South Korean President has fulfilled his election campaign promises (kind of).

Disclaimer: I write this posting comfortably thousands of miles away from the DMZ or the Korean Peninsula in California.

No comments:

Post a Comment