South Korea is on the brink of announcing that they blame the Norks for sinking of a corvette near the Northern Limit Line, taking the lives of 46 sailors:
South Korea concluded that North Korea was responsible for the attack after investigators from Australia, Britain, Sweden and the United States pieced together portions of the ship at the port of Pyeongtaek, 40 miles southwest of Seoul. The Cheonan sank on March 26 after an explosion rocked the 1,200-ton vessel as it sailed on the Yellow Sea off South Korea’s west coast.
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because South Korea has yet to disclose the findings of the investigation, said subsequent analysis determined that the torpedo was identical to a North Korean torpedo that South Korea had obtained.
The war between the two parts of the divided peninsula is not technically “over”, but rather in a state of armistice. One side has unilaterally breached that cease fire. The question now becomes, what will the South do, if anything?
The answer, according to one diplomat, ought to be more diplomacy:
In the 16 years I have worked with North Korea, I have made 18 trips there, and I remain convinced that sustained diplomatic engagement is the only way to encourage the North to moderate its threatening behavior. The alternative is far worse: an isolated North Korea that is heading down a path of defiance.
This lesson has been forgotten. When President Obama took office he pledged to engage rogue states in dialogue, but he didn’t follow through with North Korea. Confronted by its provocative nuclear and missile tests, he secured international sanctions, stepped up cooperation with South Korea and Japan and even garnered some support from China, the North’s closest friend. All that made sense as far as it went.
But then American officials neglected to re-engage Pyongyang. Instead of using last summer’s extraordinary meeting between former President Clinton and Kim Jong-il to jump-start dialogue, they lashed themselves to a set of hard and fast preconditions for talks, demanding that Pyongyang pledge to give up its nuclear arsenal and return to multilateral nuclear negotiations.
When the only tool you have left is a hammer, all problems come to resemble nails. And in any case, discussions about discussions are probably superior to kinetic mutual annihilation – after all, the south has more to lose in every way than the orcs of the hermit kingdom, and Nork artillery threatens the whole of Seoul with cataclysm. Then there is the wee little issue of nukes for kooks.
Just don’t expect it to get us anywhere anytime soon, nor provide any solace to the families of those whose lives were snatched away.
W’s “Axis of Evil” speech was deemed by the chattering classes as simplistic.
To me, it looks ever more prescient.