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The Current Intrigue over the Sinking of a South Korean Warship in March, Part 2

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If you've been following this story (the apparent sinking of a South Korean warship by a torpedo from a North Korean submarine) the latest news has the South suspending all trade with North Korea[1] as announced by South Korean President Lee on Monday. This was followed by the South Korean Defense Ministry announcing "new military exercises"[2] in coordination with U.S. forces (according to a Pentagon spokesman).

Separately, South Korea "announced it would no longer allow North Korean vessels to cross its maritime boundaries,"[3] (a move that forces all North Korean vessels to travel wider distances presumably to avoid being attacked by the South).

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon chipped in with "there must be some measures taken"but did not specify the steps."[4]

China meanwhile is being pressed by Secretary of State Clinton to join the chorus and condemn the N. Koreans "but met resistance,"[5] according to officials.

Thus, international pressure is mounting on the North Koreans, led in particular by the U.S.

But when talking of North Korea, there is only one voice that counts and that is Kim Jong-il. The "dear leader" defined as paranoid, reclusive, unpredictable and "Stalinist", presumably for his similar brutality and ruthlessness against his enemies. Yet here the similarities should end.

Consider for a moment the difference in circumstances each faced Vis a Vis how the world dealt with each of them. Stalin never faced the type of pressure being mounted against Kim. The Soviet Union by Stalin's death in 1953 was a formidable nuclear super power, had consolidated (without much Western resistance) all Eastern Europe under his yoke (save for Tito in Yugoslavia) and had been openly supportive of the North Korean invasion of South Korea in 1950. Yet Stalin (probably the most brutal dictator of all time) was kept at arms length and never formerly threatened by the U.S.

North Korea and Kim in contrast have been roundly condemned and threatened repeatedly by the U.S. The country has been linked foolishly with Iran and Iraq as part of a fictitious and non existent "axis of evil" by Bush in 2002 and subsequently developed its own nuclear arsenal, presumably as a deterrent against a possible U.S. instigated attack.

A question posed by this writer (in his initial piece on this issue) was, "Are we trying to provoke Kim and the North into a hot war"?[6] Against a nuclear armed, paranoid and unpredictable dictator and put him in a corner? Are we trying to turn North Korean bluster of "all out war" (if they're retaliated against for this "incident") into the real thing?

Obviously the "benign neglect" (suggested by this writer in the earlier piece) has not been deemed (or considered) appropriate by the powers in charge. It must be assumed therefore that we are the bigger bully anyway and pipsqueak Kim must be shown who is in charge.

To this observer we are playing with fire. Trapping a nuclear armed Kim into a corner could precipitate horrific consequences.

[1] "U.S.- S. Korea exercises raises pressure on North", By Julian E. Barnes and Paul Richter, "The Baltimore Sun", May 25, 2010.

[2] See footnote #1

[3] See footnote #1

[4] See footnote #1

[5] See footnote #1

[6] "The Current Intrigue over the Sinking of a South Korean Warship in March", by Dave Lefcourt, "OpEd News", May 23, 2010

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