Confrontation with North Korea
1. Around 5 days ago North Korea fired about 200 rounds of artillery at a small island that's home to about 1,300 South Koreans. The shells killed two SK troops and two civilians, and destroyed around 60 homes.
2. The Norks claim they fired after South Korean guns on the island fired dozens of shells into Nork ocean waters as part of a military exercise. They claim to have warned the South of grave consequences if this happened again.
3. Video smuggled out of North Korea features lots of NK citizens talking about nearing the end of their tolerance for the current situation--lots of Northerners starving to death, lots of suicides.
4. NK dictator Kim Jong Il--who inherited the position from his father, Kim Il Sung--is reportedly in poor health and is trying to ensure that his youngest son will take over as dictator. But the son has virtually no experience or credibility.
5. The U.S. Navy had scheduled a regular naval exercise in the narrow Yellow Sea between Korea and China. A large U.S. aircraft carrier, the George Washington, was slated to be part of that exercise, but after China made a strong, threatening statement the GW was removed from the lineup. No reason was given.
6. Now the Navy has announced that the carrier will participate in the exercise after all.
7. On March 26 a South Korean anti-sub vessel was sunk in the open ocean near the parallel that divides the two nations, killing 46 crewmembers. Naval experts concluded the ship had been hit by a torpedo from a North Korean sub. (Divers recovered uniquely identifiable parts of the torp at the site.) North Korea has long been known for making quick strikes on ships and planes in international waters.
I hope I'm wrong, but this situation worries me. A lot. Specifically, I'm concerned that China will use this to assert ownership of the Yellow Sea, by giving the North the green light to fire torpedoes or missiles at the GW.
Now, there's no way to prevent crazy bastards from doing something crazy militarily. Hell, the Norks captured the USS Pueblo and crew and all the U.S. government did was wring its hands and write letters. They're aggressive and seemingly unrestrained by the possibility of retaliation.
And the reasons are clear: They're protected by China. And they're pretty sure the memory of the Korean War is fresh enough to Americans that we'll always wring our hands and whine rather than turning their capital into glowing glass.
So I suspect that if the Chinese were to hint to the Norks that they'd be pleased if..., the Norks would be only too happy to give it a try.
And if (heaven forbid) a warhead were to get through, about half of all (nominal) Americans would agree that it was indeed our fault, and that U.S. forces should never sail closer than, oh, 400 miles or so from either China or North Korea.
So--if you're religious, pray that the exercise winds up without loss of life. And pray that the U.S. can somehow be lucky enough to make it to January of 2013 and a new president who will reassert that anyone who attacks our ships in international waters will quickly end up dead.
Postscript: Want a great example of how thoroughly Wikipedia covers for communist states? Here's what they said about the South Korean ship that was torpedoed by the North: "On 26 March 2010, it broke in two and sank... like, just spontaneously. They do say later in the article that a panel of experts concluded that the cause was a torpedo, but the image has already been sent to the brain of gullible readers that the vessel spontaneously broke in two--'cuz everyone knows that this kind of thing just, y'know, happens to ships.