North Korea decides not to back up its previous high-handed talk, and the South comes out of it the better, for once. It might not do much to assuage the loss of troops and civilians last month, but this is quite the political/military coup. For the first time in quite a while, the South has aggressively stood up for itself, looked its tyrannical neighbour in the eye and the Kim’s are the ones to clearly back down.
“Not worth reacting”? Hardly. What happened is that the North, suddenly faced with the very real possibility that the South might not be resigned to take it anymore, wobbled and walked away. They’re not fooling anyone outside of their own indoctrinated populace.
South Korea was smart enough to have bombers in the air ready to hit back at any potential DPRK attack and also included around 20 US servicemen in this artillery demonstration – something that I’m sure the DPRK knew about. The Republic of Korea had a good hand: any attack would have surely involved American casualties and that means the USS George Washington would be cleared to get into the fight.
I am delighted by this result. No meek suggestions of pointless negotiations, no “aid” payments to try to get the DPRK to behave itself. This is a crucial point. The South now has firm proof that they can force the Kim’s to back down and the North is stuck with a firm loss of face and what must be a wake-up call to the real geo-political situation in the area. The DPRK might have the tactic back-up of the Chinese but the South has the US. At the end of this crisis, it’s very clear which ally is doing more to back up its chosen nation on the peninsula.
What comes next? North Korea is probably going to want the 6 nations talks back on track as soon as they can and seem willing to make some compromises to get them. But the South has the diplomatic advantage now having seen what the North will balk at militarily.
Of course, we should strive for impartiality when looking at these kind of situations but come on: it’s a democratic free state against one of the most “rogue” of all “rogue” nations that would rather own a crappy nuclear missile then make sure its population gets to eat this Winter.
There is only one country we, and when I say “we” I mean Ireland, the EU, the Western World, should be dealing with, sympathising with and, if it comes right down to it, backing up. The terrible plight of northern civilians is clearly something that will not be rectified properly until the Kim regime and its military backing is gone.
If war is the only way that can happen (and it would of course be a war that the North starts, my opinion would change in the event of an unprovoked Southern attack), so be it. War should, of course, be one of the last options, always. I say “one of” because the continued paying off of the DPRK is unacceptable, in my eyes anyway. You won’t get the bully to stop if you reward his behavior.
It seems the ROK might have finally realised that.