Sunday, July 25, 2010

Let the (war) games begin!

I'm not happy that Washington backed off holding part of its joint military exercises with Seoul in the Yellow Sea, to the west of South Korea. A large portion of that body of water is under ROK jurisdiction, and this backing off seems a bit too much like a concession to Beijing. Indeed, it almost seems like we're conceding hegemony over the Yellow Sea to China at a time when we should be stepping up defenses there.

But Pyongyang is not happy that the exercises are still going on in the East Sea (Sea of Japan), on the other side of the peninsula (and away from China's watchful eye). Instead of focusing on our side's apparent kowtowing to China, maybe I should try to see the glass as half full, as in we are still conducting a very large exercise with considerable technology that has to have the DPRK (and the PRC) at least a tad nervous. From the NYT:
On Sunday, in a show of their combined military power, a fleet of U.S. and South Korean naval ships and submarines sailed into waters off the east coast of South Korea, led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington, one of the biggest ships in the U.S. Navy. Japan, a historical rival of the two Koreas but an ally of South Korea and the United States in their confrontation with North Korea, dispatched military observers in the four-day exercise.

The drills mobilized 20 ships, 8,000 troops from both allies and an unusually large number of warplanes: more than 200 aircraft, including the F-22 Raptor fighter, which joins an exercise in South Korea for the first time.
And then, of course, we have the tightening of financial screws on North Korea, so it's not as if we're doing nothing. Still, that idea that China can diplomatically pressure us not to conduct military exercises in the very body of water where our side lost four dozen people by a clear military provocation is niggling at the back of my mind. Dang Chinese are a bunch of nigglers!

I think we should plan (and announce ahead of time) new exercises to be held off the west coast. Barring that idea, a nice joint military exercise involving the US, the ROK, and Japan will be a nice next step. Pyongyang needs to feel consequences for what it did, and Beijing needs to feel consequences for letting it go unpunished.

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  1. if you wish to truly understand, you must imagine chinese position: they are a rising power, and like most major political gestures, the gesture of huge military exercise just a few distance from China - a rising power - is interpreted with more meaning than a simple challenge to NK. This is the reality of diplomacy and geopolitics. Be careful to not let your emotions blind your observation of reading "between the lines" of China's actions.

    also lets imagine: if China did a similar exercise near California coast, or even Hawai, for whatever justification, would Americans say "oh well, China should be allowed to do major military exercise so near our coast, it does not threaten us! they suffered a sunken ship, so we should allow them to do this!" ? I dont think so.

    I do not mean to defend China, but these things should be judged in more than one persepctive, to truly understand.

    I like your blog!

  2. John, I think you are going too far in providing a parallel justification. At any rate, these exercises were off the South Korean coast, not the Chinese coast. So a better analogy would be China conducting military exercises off the Mexican coast in the Gulf of Mexico, if Mexico were a close ally of China and a US ally had just sunk a Mexican ship.

  3. We'd be able to do precious little. Just as we were able to do precious little about Panama leasing to a Chinese company our formally owned territory at the Canal Zone.

  4. What does panama doing business with its own sovereign property has to do with whether Americans would be SUPER SCAAARED of Chinese military presence just a few miles from their coast?

    Are you an American who thinkgs he "owns" Latin America?

  5. hmm, no answer again.

    Next time, I hope for you to put more thinking into your blog! :) Good luck.

  6. John, I'm a busy person who doesn't have time to answer each and every comment made by someone who has him pigeonholed as being somebody completely different than who he is.

    I welcome your comments and your opinions, but you really have me pegged all wrong.

    The Mexico analogy is apt because the Yellow Sea wargames would have been in South Korean waters, not China's.

  7. Are you an American who thinkgs he "owns" Latin America?

    No. I'm an American who knows that the US dug the Panama Canal and administered the Canal Zone as US territory (would-be presidential candidate John McCain was even born there), and that we gave it back to Panama with certain understandings about security.


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