Friday, May 21, 2010

N. Korea - the convenient bad guy

I am not defending what appears to have been another pointless and destructive action by N. Korea, but, as usual, the discussions in the popular press, and the pronouncements by politicians underscore the hypocrisy with which American foreign policy is riddled. Thus, it is worth pointing out a few things:

First, there is the treatment of the sinking of the So. Korean warship by a No. Korean torpedo as though it were some sort of crime against humanity. I'm not minimizing the deaths of the sailors on board the So. Korean ship, but it was a military vessel, not a cruise-ship. It's crew were military men and therefore had an understanding of the possibility of military engagement. Contrast this with the death we the USA regularly rain down upon Afghanistan using unmanned aircraft (so we don't have to look at the people we're killing). How many civilians have we killed thus far in our attempt to bring "peace and freedom" to Afghanistan? Not to mention the virtual destruction of Iraq?

Second, the Korean War is technically not even over, thus any hostile act between the belligerants comes under the rubric of that war. And, of course, the So. Korean ship was right at the disputed boundary between the territorial waters of the two countries.

It is also worth noting that there are additional strategic factors in the US' predictably sanctimonious response to the event. First, we'd like to continue to keep a base on Okinawa, despite the fact that WW II has been over for 65 years, despite the fact that the base has been the source of several ugly crimes committed by US military personnel against the local population and despite the fact that the Japanese consider the base to be an affront to Japanese sovereignty. Coincidentally, the Korean affair comes at a time when the USA is re-negotiating the terms of the Okinawa base agreement and Sec. of State Clinton has lost no time reminding the Japanese of our alliance and the importance for their security of having us remain in the area in light of the Korean affair.

Not unrelated to this is our generally waning influence and the general ascendancy of Chinese influence, both in Asia and in the world. We don't like it in general and we don't like it in Asia, which, after all, belongs to us (just as the Middle East does). Thus, every event in Asia requires our intervention, just to remind everyone of who is still in charge.