PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Officials from the Korea Meteorological Administration sat behind microphones in front of an overflow audience of journalists. Interpreters converted the officials’ words through the headsets of those unable to speak Korean. There was anxiousness. People put their thumbs to their phones, ready to share the news on Twitter immediately. It was as if Punxsutawney Phil were making his Groundhog Day weather prediction in a teeming conference room. The message was hardly a revelation:
Archive for Korea – North and South Korea
“In 1988, the last time South Korea hosted the Olympics, North and South Korea were more alike than different, separated by an arbitrary line yet joined by history, language and the bonds of family.
Both Koreas had come a long way, emerging from colonial rule and rebuilding their economies after a devastating civil war.
But the Olympics in Seoul in 1988 ended up being a turning point. Over the past 30 years, the two countries have diverged sharply — economically, politically and culturally.
South Korea rapidly industrialized, growing at one of the fastest rates in the world. The North stagnated.”
SEOUL, South Korea — North and South Korea reached an agreement Wednesday for their athletes to march together under one flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics next month, a powerful gesture of reconciliation that further complicates President Trump’s strategy for dealing with the nuclear-armed regime of Kim Jong-un. South Korea, the host of the games, said it hoped a partnership in sports could contribute to a political thaw after years of high tensions on the Korean Peninsula. It came even a
Donald Trump’s military chest pounding against North Korea is an embarassement, and a danger to millions of people. America appears in this area as a rogue nation, as much as North Korea. It is brilliant of North and South Korea to start at least symbolic talks, to calm things down, and calm down the hyper aggressive United States under Trump. A better direction for US policy toward North Korea, would be to listen more carefully to China, Japan and South Korea, and our other Asian allies, and support their efforts to contain North Korea. The US also has to acknowledge that it is not the ruler of the world. We have no intrinsic right to forbid other countries from weapons that we build and stockpile ourselves. For us to bomb another nation for arming itself, as we have armed ourselves, makes us more of a war mongering, ethnocentric and totalitarian nation, than a beacon of freedom and democracy.
“We carefully studied this contingency. “Preventive war” would result in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of casualties. Metropolitan Seoul’s 26 million people are only 35 miles from the border, within easy range of the North’s missiles and artillery. About 23,000 United States troops, plus their families, live between Seoul and the Demilitarized Zone; in total, at least 200,000 Americans reside in South Korea.
Japan, and almost 40,000 United States military personnel there, would also be in the cross hairs. The risk to American territory cannot be discounted, nor the prospect of China being drawn into a direct conflict with the United States. Then there would be the devastating impact of war on the global economy.”
“. . . By most assessments, Mr. Kim is vicious and impetuous, but not irrational. Thus, while we quietly continue to refine our military options, we can rely on traditional deterrence by making crystal clear that any use of nuclear weapons against the United States or its allies would result in annihilation of North Korea. Defense Secretary James Mattis struck this tone on Wednesday. The same red line must apply to any proof that North Korea has transferred nuclear weapons to another state or nonstate actor.
Second, to avoid blundering into a costly war, the United States needs to immediately halt the reckless rhetoric. John Kelly, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, must assert control over the White House, including his boss, and curb the Trump surrogates whipping up Cuban missile crisis fears.
Third, we must enhance our antimissile systems and other defenses, and those of our allies, which need our reassurances more than ever.”
I posted the following at the NYT:
Excellent analysis and reporting by Susan Rice. I would add, I read a good idea by a commentator at the NYT who suggested, the US should woo North Korea into a de-escalation. We could, for example. offer to pull our military forces out of South Korea in exchange for their giving up their nuclear weapons program. It would be useful if talks could start, aimed at giving both countries what they want or need. I add to the commentators idea, it might be necessary to let the North Koreans keep the nuclear weapons that they have. This might be acceptable, if we could get them to allow verification that they stop all further development. I continue to be depressed by most of the discussion. It is arrogance for the US to think that it has to be in charge of North Korea, when they are China’s neighbor and vassal state. We should remind ourselves continually, that this part of the world is not our backyard, but China’s.
David Lindsay is about to publish his book, The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam.