NIGHTWATCH Extract: Koreas Analysis

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Asia Times 24 July 2010 South Korea reels as US backpedals By Peter Lee

Special Note. An Asia Times Online analysis of Allied behavior during this confrontation contains several points worth restating. First is that any effort to obtain Chinese and Russian support for the findings of the joint investigation into the sinking of the Cheonan was doomed to fail because South Korea did not invite either nation to send experts to join the investigation. This is a colossal political blunder no matter what the findings were and how the experts agreed or disagreed.

Second is the issue of playing old tapes. Someone still thinks that China can be pressured by economic ties and US military power into supporting the US against North Korea. That never happened even when China was much weaker than it now is. In the past year, moreover, China’s assertion of hegemony in the west Pacific has been not been seen in centuries.

Third is South Korean overreaching. The government in Seoul expected the UN would side with it against the North. Despite the cleverness of the drafters of the UN Security Council statement, the North Koreans consider their work to have delivered a world-class diplomatic victory to North Korea over the US and South Korea. Instead of projecting South Korea onto the world stage, the Statement enabled North Korea to get away with murder.

Finally, in this analysis, the South expected the US would stand up to China by holding exercises in the Yellow Sea over Chinese objections. That also will not happen.

The analysis is long and somewhat tedious, but has value because it provides predictive hypotheses for the miscalculations, misperceptions and blunders that allowed North Korea to sink an Allied warship with impunity.