ROKS Cheonan -- What You Need to Think About
- Will North Korea attempt this type of attack again?
"For better or for worse, North Korea's actions in the last 20 years or so were predictable. It is a mistake to think that Kim Jong-Il is a madman
who will fire nuclear missile for #s and giggles. He is a calculating politician who is interested in exactly one thing and one thing only: the
survival of the regime, and by extension, continued enjoyment of his power.
Also, if there should be a full-scale war between the two Koreas, there is no doubt as to the eventual outcome -- South Korea will emerge victorious.
In fact. Kim Jong-Il knows that the beginning of a full-scale war is equivalent to his annihilation within minutes. Then the fact that North Korea
would engage in this type of attack, raising the possibility of a full-scale war, is counter-intuitive. Even if North Korea needed a rise in tension
for internal reasons, North Korea has been able to do so without necessarily causing casualty -- for example, by testing a nuclear weapon.
And this is the most worrisome aspect of this attack -- that the North Korean regime is no longer predictable. North Korean regime has talked big, but
rarely followed through in an actual attack like this one. (For example, in 1994 North Korea famously announced that it will turn Seoul into a "sea
of flames". No real action followed.) But now, things have changed, and no one knows how the situation will progress. "
- Will South Korea's response be enough to deter this type of attack from happening again?
"Withdrawal of the aid and the economic exchange program is unlikely to mean anything to the North Korean regime. Recall that Kim Jong-Il regime did
not even flinch while millions died of starvation in North Korea in the early 1990s. While it does hurt North Korea's pocketbook, Kim Jong-Il's
personal pocketbook will not be significantly affected.
It is not clear as of yet if South Korea's new resolution to fully retaliate whenever this type of attack happens again can deter such an attack.
North Korea announced that it will attack any propaganda broadcast speakers set up in the South. South Korea responded that if they are attacked, it
will retaliate accordingly. But it remains to be seen how much tolerance South Korean administration for the tension and the increased chance of a
full-scale war that will inevitably follow such a retaliation."
- Is there anything else South Korea can do to deter this type of attack from happening again?
If the North Korean regime only cares about its survival, the only possible response by which South Korea can gain leverage is to threaten the
survival of the regime. [To this end, Mr. Joo Seong-Ha recommended improved intelligence on where Kim Jong-Il is at all times, and at least three
stealth bombers that can be used to immediately kill Kim Jong-Il.
But no matter how broad (e.g. full-scale war) or narrow (e.g. targeted assassination of Kim Jong-Il) the response is, South Korea must back the
response with the gumption that a full-scale war might actually occur. For now, South Korea is responding by creating as much disruption without a
military response, i.e. propaganda broadcasting. As discussed earlier, North Korea is reacting strongly even to this.
While the second Korean War will almost certainly end in the South's victory, the central dilemma for South Korea has been the same for the last 40
years -- Seoul, the nation's capital with the population of 10 million people in its metropolitan area, is only 30 miles away from the DMZ. Along the
DMZ, North Korea has a number of long-range artillery and missiles aimed at Seoul. Should North Korea decide to fire them, there is no way for South
Korea to completely intercept them."
- Is there anything anyone else can do to deter this type of attack again?
"Much of it hinges upon China, which at this point is the only guarantor of safety for North Korea. However, China has been lukewarm about America's
request to punish North Korea; A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Ma Zhaoxu, was noncommittal, saying of the Korea crisis, “We hope all the
relevant parties will exercise restraint and remain cool-headed.”"
[edit on 26-5-2010 by henriquefd]