On Tuesday 23 November 2010 the South Korean military launched an artillery barrage that saw its shells fall into disputed waters close to North Korea. South Korea does not deny it fired first by firing shells into the disputed waters but says the shelling was ‘away from the north’. The North Koreans had already warned the South Koreans that they would consider such an act as a direct provocation and respond accordingly.
With thousands of miles of coastline to the west, south and east that South Korea could have harmlessly fired its shells from, one needs to ask why South Korea chose to fire them knowingly toward and into disputed waters so close to North Korea. One also needs to ask why South Korea did this just days before a major joint military exercise with the US that includes the USS George Washington carrier strike group.
While the exercise had been arranged long before last Tuesdays incident, indeed, according to Pentagon spokesman Marine Col. David Lapan, the USS George Washington carrier strike group had left Japan heading for South Korea for the exercises before Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bec had spoken with each other about the incident, the Washington Post is spinning the story to make it seem as though President Obama has sent the carrier fleet to South Korea as a result of the incident. John Pomfret of the Washington Post writes:
In dispatching the aircraft carrier USS George Washington to the Korean Peninsula on Wednesday, the Obama administration said it was putting on a show of U.S. support for South Korea.
It is clear that the South Korean opening barrage so close to North Korea was a deliberate attempt to provoke a major incident. It is also apparent that this whole charade of the crisis being a series of spontaneous events instigated by North Korea has in reality been concocted by the US and South Korea in order to deliberately point the finger of blame for the incident at North Korea with a view to escalating the crisis. The presence of the carrier strike group in Korean seas is just an added provocation.
So, what’s the aim of all this provoking?
At best, it may be just a ploy to get the Chinese to come down hard on their ally North Korea in an effort to put another turn of the screw that puts added pressure on the North Korean regime. In which case it’s just another provocation designed to keep that particular pot boiling for whatever underhanded geo-strategic double-dealing reason the US have dreamt up as they are apt to do from time to time, usually to distract from other problems the US are having.
Or could it be something far more serious and potentially far more dangerous for the world as well as the region?
The US has been very upset about China’s refusal to bend to US demands to revalue the Yuan to favour America’s flagging dollar. The US is also very concerned about China’s increasing power as a global player politically, economically and militarily. Unlike the US, China has not spent too much of its time rattling its sabre around the world in the quest for resources. Instead it simply sends its representatives to whatever country has the resources that China doesn’t have and they do a deal. Simple as that.
The Chinese have been quietly making massive deals with countries all over the planet particularly in the resource rich and, as yet, mostly untapped African continent where they have a huge presence working on all manner of infrastructure projects in exchange for resources. This has also upset the Americans who see their own influence being usurped by China’s.
America has touted itself as the sole remaining superpower since the end of the so-called ‘Cold War’. The reality, however, is that they are no longer the only superpower and the fact is, China snuck up and overtook the US over these last few years and the US resents that.
Challenging China’s proxy, North Korea, is a way of reasserting US hegemony and status.
For the sake of the future of the world, China will, for the sake of peace, be mature enough to allow the bully boy on the block to think that he’s still numero uno and let him strut the world stage. But the world now knows differently after the fiasco of Iraq and Afghanistan and every day reveals just how much power the US really has and who the real power player is in the world today.
America should take care about who they provoke.