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Author Topic: North and South Korea  (Read 55069 times)
Power User
Posts: 41622

« Reply #350 on: November 08, 2017, 01:32:50 PM »

South Korea’s Bow to Beijing
Seoul caves on Thaad missile defenses and a democratic alliance.
South Korea's President Moon Jae-In speaks during a joint press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, Nov. 7.
South Korea's President Moon Jae-In speaks during a joint press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, Nov. 7. Photo: jim watson/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
By The Editorial Board
Nov. 7, 2017 6:17 p.m. ET

Donald Trump on Tuesday praised Moon Jae-in for “great cooperation” on containing the threat from North Korea and said there has been “a lot of progress.” The South Korean President also made a show of unity after their summit in Seoul, but Mr. Moon’s recent actions suggest he is an unreliable friend.

Mr. Moon favors appeasing Kim Jong Un to lower tension on the Korean Peninsula, including direct talks even as the North continues its nuclear and missile tests. He wants to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Zone that provided Pyongyang with about $100 million in hard currency a year. That’s bad enough, but Mr. Moon is also working against U.S. policy in the wider region. Last week he caved to Chinese pressure on missile defense, rewarding Beijing for its bullying behavior and support for the Kim Jong Un regime.

Earlier this year, the missile threat from the North caused Seoul to deploy the U.S.-made Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense (Thaad), which can shoot down missiles in a range of more than 200 kilometers. Beijing objected forcefully, claiming that the system’s powerful radar could monitor China’s nuclear missile sites. Thaad also meshes with other U.S. missile defense systems at sea, in Japan and on American territory.

China’s larger fear is that South Korea will be drawn into a closer relationship with other U.S. allies. A key theme of Mr. Trump’s trip is cooperation among the region’s democracies to protect a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” building on past efforts to deepen ties between South Korea and Japan. If South Korea were to put aside its reservations about working with Japan, it would deal a serious blow to China’s bid for hegemony in Asia.

Beijing unleashed a diplomatic and economic assault this year to convince newly elected President Moon to back down on Thaad. Official spokesmen and state-run media blamed Seoul for harming relations. Beijing closed South Korean-owned stores in China, stopped Chinese tourists from visiting, and even blocked the broadcast of Korean television dramas.

Last week Mr. Moon folded. Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha announced a deal to settle the Thaad dispute on Chinese terms. South Korea promised not to deploy more Thaad radars and launchers, leaving South Korea vulnerable to future North Korean attacks, since the six current launchers don’t cover northern South Korea, including the capital Seoul. Without more launchers, North Korean missiles could overwhelm the system.

Seoul also agreed not to join America’s regional missile-defense system, which will limit the effectiveness of the defenses in South Korea and Japan. And South Korea agreed not to join a military alliance with the U.S. and Japan in the future. So Beijing achieved its goal of stymieing the U.S. agenda of collective defense in Asia along the lines of Europe’s NATO.

What did Seoul get in return? A meeting between Mr. Moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of this week’s APEC summit in Vietnam, as well as a trip to Beijing this year. China tacitly agreed to stop its embargoes on South Korean products. No word on whether it will stop supporting Pyongyang with oil and food, but don’t count on it.

Mr. Moon has called for “balanced diplomacy” between the U.S. and China. But his willingness to compromise the security of his own country and its allies in the face of Chinese pressure is anything but balanced. It’s understandable that the U.S. and South Korean Presidents showed a united front Tuesday, but Mr. Moon’s actions have undermined the alliance against Kim Jong Un.
Power User
Posts: 41622

« Reply #351 on: November 09, 2017, 12:06:51 PM »

What Trump Really Said in South Korea
Nov 9, 2017
By Jacob L. Shapiro

The importance of any speech is tricky to gauge. Occasionally, they can have great significance, like when Secretary of State Dean Acheson left South Korea out of the U.S. security umbrella in a speech to the National Press Club in 1950, an omission that, in a way, helped start the Korean War. But mostly they reside in the garbage bin of history. There’s a wide gulf between rhetoric and reality, and what is said for political purposes often has little to do with the impersonal forces that shape action. I remember watching then-Secretary of State John Kerry thunder away at a State Department briefing about Syria’s use of chemical weapons in August 2013, thinking to myself that surely a U.S. military strike on Syria was imminent. (I even went on television and said as much. Thankfully, the internet saves all things, so I can always look back and relive my mistake.) At the time, I couldn’t see how else Kerry’s severe language could be explained. But of course, the U.S. decided not to strike, despite then-President Barack Obama’s red line and despite Kerry’s fiery speech.

On Nov. 8, U.S. President Donald Trump gave us a new speech to consider. Addressed to South Korea’s National Assembly, it had three main objectives. First, to convey to South Korea the gravity of the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the depth of the United States’ commitment to preventing North Korea from acquiring nukes that threaten American soil. Second, to begin building a case to the American people for the U.S. to fight again on the Korean Peninsula. And third, to scare Kim Jong Un, and any country that may support his regime, into capitulating before a war starts. The odds of Trump achieving the third objective are slim at best, which means he will soon face a grave decision. What he decides will define his presidency and shape the balance of power in East Asia for years to come.

Peace Through Strength

Trump’s remarks to the National Assembly were effusive and complimentary, but the content of the message was no different from his prior comments about South Korea. In September, he took to Twitter to criticize Seoul for what he called appeasement of the North Koreans. Many feared at the time that Trump’s comments may poison relations between Seoul and Washington. The tweets, however, were only an expression of frictions that already existed. The problem in the relationship started May 9 with the election of President Moon Jae-in, whose administration opposes a pre-emptive U.S. strike on North Korea.

 U.S. President Donald Trump (R) addresses the National Assembly in Seoul on Nov. 8, 2017. JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

This threw a wrench in U.S. plans. From an operational perspective, attacking North Korea without South Korea’s help makes an already difficult operation close to impossible. There had been several signs in the first half of the year that the U.S. was preparing for military action against North Korea. In fact, at one point in May, three U.S. aircraft carriers had converged on the Western Pacific, and the U.S. seemed poised to strike. But Moon’s election forced the U.S. to slow its preparations and devote additional time to diplomacy. From a political perspective, Seoul’s defiance of Washington suggested weakness. Pyongyang intuited that there may be a split in U.S.-South Korean relations that it could exploit to bring about one of its long-cherished goals: the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Korean Peninsula.

Despite Trump’s lofty rhetoric in Seoul, little has changed since the September tweets. South Korea and the U.S. still don’t see eye to eye on what should be done about North Korea. As long as that is the case, the U.S. will find it difficult to convince the North that it should fear American threats. So although Trump was far more gracious speaking to the South Korean National Assembly than he was on Twitter, his message was the same: Peace in our time can be achieved only through strength. Trump’s entire visit to Asia is symbolic, an attempt to shore up U.S. relations with key allies in the Pacific. But no ally is more important and more skeptical right now than South Korea, and no speech is going to allay South Korea’s concerns.

The Other Audiences

Other parts of Trump’s speech focused on the nature of North Korea’s dictatorship. These remarks were directed not at South Korean lawmakers – they are plenty familiar with their neighbor’s woeful economic situation and strict societal controls – but at the American public. That Trump’s speech was delivered at 11 a.m. Seoul time meant that it aired during prime-time hours in the United States. Trump laid out the reasons it is important for the United States to ensure that North Korea does not acquire nuclear capabilities. He made his argument from a security standpoint, an ethical standpoint and even a religious standpoint.

But the two men Trump was speaking to most forcefully were Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump’s words for Kim have been consistently bellicose, and that trend continued in Seoul. But Trump also went out of his way to criticize China in the speech. At one point, he told a story about a baby born in North Korea whose father was Chinese. The baby, according to Trump, was killed and taken away in a bucket, deemed undeserving of life because of its ethnic impurity. He finished the story with a rhetorical question: “So why would China feel an obligation to help North Korea?”

Trump is now in China, meeting with Xi. Publicly he has said nice things about the Chinese leader – that he has been very helpful on the North Korea issue and that there are many areas where the U.S. and China will be able to cooperate, such as the much-ballyhooed but insignificant business deals that will be signed during the trip. But make no mistake – the main topic of conversation between Trump and Xi is North Korea, and here, Trump has very little to be happy about. The U.S. president will demand to know why China has been selective in its enforcement of sanctions against North Korea, and why China is trading more with North Korea in 2017 than it was in 2016, even if it has abided by restrictions on importing North Korean coal. Xi will continue his charade of looking helpful on North Korea without actually helping.

The obstacles that have blocked an attack so far are still in place. South Korea, the critical ally, remains unconvinced that the U.S. can protect Seoul from North Korea’s artillery. The U.S. electorate favors an attack right now, according to recent polls, but once the fighting starts, support in the U.S. would decline faster than North Korea’s resolve. And U.S. diplomatic efforts to denuclearize the peninsula are being stymied by China and Russia, both of which have an interest in seeing the U.S. bogged down and distracted with what is, from their perspectives, a side issue. It wouldn’t take much to watch Trump’s speech and come away thinking the U.S. is readying for an imminent attack on North Korea. (After 2013, I should know.) But it is more likely that this is a continuation of the U.S. attempt to cow North Korea into submission, not a cry to let slip the dogs of war.
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