|Panmunjom, South Korea / Nile Bowie
Nile Bowie, Contributing Writer
The 38th parallel dividing the two Korean nation-states may be the most potent physical manifestation of antithetical idealism subsisting into the 21st century. From its guerrilla warfare-induced separation in 1945, to the highly touted present day threat of sacred war
– the ideologies of the two opposing Korean nation states have worked to the advantage of powers largely using Korea as a proxy.
In the south, the oligarchical cadre of President Lee Myung Bak has worked ad nauseum to dismantle the infrastructure of former President Kim Dae-Jung’s sunshine policy toward the northward regime. In an unfettered embrace for the military-industrial complex, Lee has further aligned with the Pentagon and the Obama administration to secure an influx of state-of the-art-military technology.
To the North, ideology has always been far more relevant than economics. Beneath the first signs of Chinese-style market reform and the increasing presence of special economic zones, the effectiveness of state mythology surrounding its deified leadership may soon gently begin to be challenged as North Koreans learn more about foreigners and the world beyond their borders. Since its inception, the Northern population has been subjected to vigorous domestic propaganda espousing the pristine virtuousness of a uniquely homogenous Korean race – protected from the evils of the outside world under the everlasting paternal care of the Great Father Leader, General Kim il-Sung. Although always second to firepower, economic legitimacy appears to be more of a priority following the third dynastic handover into the remarkably stable Kim Jong-Un regime.
The threat of war has permanently occupied the Korean peninsula since the existence of its two nation-states, with each side seeking to wholly absorb the other into its ideological and economic orbit. The South’s undisputed economic dominance makes it naturally suited to lead integrative efforts toward much-needed reconciliation on the peninsula. Under the publicly loathed chaebol regime
model of Lee Myung Bak, the prospects of a mutual bloodless reunification appear stark.
As one state begins to manufacture its own fighter jets and increasingly expands its arsenal of advanced military technology, the other brandishes a collection aging Soviet-made machinery, suspected to be largely obsolete. Between the artillery exchanges of a hypothetical Korean Holy War, it must be asked – is South Korea really prey or predator?
Recent tension on the peninsula in the form of US-ROK Combined Forces Command drills reignited an ongoing stream of public analysis. The war games conducted on February 20th, 2012 were negligently held in a disputed area of the West Sea. Following an exchange of threatening rhetoric, the ROK began evacuating residents of Baengnyeong Island, located just south of the maritime border with North Korea. Prior to the commencement of military exercises, the North warned the ROK “not to forget the lesson” of Yeonpyeong Island, where four civilians were killed in a Northern bombardment in 2010 after the South began firing shells into North Korean territorial waters as part of a live ammunition drill.
Fortunately, the North did not respond to the most recent US-ROK Combined Forces Command exercise, perceiving it to be a “premeditated military provocation.” Korean news sources report an estimated 5,000 live rounds fired during the exercise
, all of them falling into South Korean waters. The drill was conducted over two hours, involving Cobra attack helicopters, self-propelled howitzers and Vulcan cannons. Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) warns that North Korea is fully prepared for war and the complete collapse of ties between the two Koreas
. In response to further planned exercises, the North’s National Defense Commission (NDC) has stated “Now that a war has been declared against us, the army and people are firmly determined to counter it with a sacred war of our own style and protect the security of the nation and the peace of the country.”
Although it’s irresponsible to deny South Korea’s sovereignty and the vibrant economic achievements of the people within it, the nation’s current leadership has worked to further reduce the country into an economic and military protectorate of the United States.
Under President Lee Myung Bak, the global multifaceted strategic partnership between Seoul and Washington has pressured the ROK into deploying its military personnel to more than a dozen countries, including Afghanistan Somalia, Lebanon and other fronts in the mythicized War on Terror.
South Korean troops have also joined Cobra Gold, the United States’ largest multilateral exercise in the Asia-Pacific region in conjunction with Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.
As policy makers in Seoul’s Blue House continue propagating an unbalanced emphasis on US relations, the ROK is forced out of emerging markets in the Middle East as a result of the expanding blanket of US sanctions in the region. In addition to an increased global presence of ROK troops, South Korea has been cajoled into the suspension of its crucial trading partnership with Iran. Kim Keun-sik, a North Korea analyst at Kyungnam University elaborates
, “Seoul’s participation in sanctions against Iran is the worst trap of the Korea-US alliance. It is not aimed at deterring the North (which is the initial purpose of the alliance) nor at peacefully resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.” As Seoul is dragged into complying with American militarism, relations between Pyongyang and Tehran have become increasingly more intimate.
While the threat of provocation from Pyongyang provides an opportune pretext for militaristic expansion, South Korea’s controversial $970 million joint military base on Jeju Island
(the ROK’s southern most territory, parallel to the DMZ) exists to fundamentally project force toward China in the event of military conflict. With sheer disregard for the ecological physiognomies of Jeju Island (recognized by UNESCO) and the concerns of the island’s protesting residents, the joint base would host up to 20 American and South Korean warships, including submarines,
aircraft carriers and destroyers once completed in 2014. China has further called the presence of Aegis anti-ballistic systems
on Jeju island a dangerous provocation.
Under the leadership of President Lee Myung Bak, the South Korea arms industry has expanded to new heights; with a planned increase of $4 billion in exports by 2020, the ROK would be the 7th largest exporter of arms in the world.
North Korean ballistic technology appears to be constructed from components of Russian origin; analysts such as David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ point out
that the engines on the North’s Unha-2 launcher are essentially based on the Soviet Scud-B missile. In sharp contrast to the modernity of the ROK’s military technology, the North’s most modern undertakings are based off of the Soviet R-27 sea-launched ballistic missile, first deployed in 1968. The DPRK is also attempting to use a dated American UAV purchased from the Middle East as a basis for its own unmanned attack aircraft program. After North Korean modifications, the US-made MQM-107 Streaker’s 1970s’-era technology would serve as an enhanced version of the German WWII-era V-1 Buzz Bomb
The extremely limited amount of modern equipment in circulation is largely based on modified 1960s’-era missile technology, which appears to see little to no actual testing. Despite its large numbers, extreme isolation has left troops in the North with a questionable amount of practical training under its exceedingly bureaucratic chain of command. The North’s domestic missile development program is more limited than generally assumed, with easily visible and immobile long-range missile launch sites. US congressmen belonging to the House Armed Services Committee have voiced concern
over the North’s road-mobile ICBM program and its capacity to hide launch platforms. While Northern special ops forces could undertake campaigns of guerrilla war for some time and inevitably deal heavy damage onto the South with artillery shells and missiles, the North’s capacity to sustain a large-scale effort without Chinese backing is limited with an American presence on the Peninsula.
Denuclearization is akin to the regime committing political suicide, quelling its only bargaining chip with the outside world. Regardless of the actual progress toward constructing nuclear arms, the North’s weapon is a source of pride for its people, aimed to further defend itself against the US forces responsible for killing nearly a third of its population in aerial bombardments during the Korean war (an amount far surpassing the civilian causalities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). Under foreign invasion, the North would become increasing more belligerent if faced with China’s military neglect.
The North would only ever use a nuclear device if its existence were directly threatened, as a last resort if the nation came under attack from outside forces. For this reason, the diplomatic strength of the next South Korean President is crucial to peace on the Peninsula. Lee Myung Bak has negligently encouraged a hardline stance on relations to the North, a far cry away from the policies of his predecessor, Kim Dae-Jung, the only South Korean President to visit the North during a summit in 2000. The South will host two upcoming elections this year, the National Assembly in April 2012, and a Presidential election in December 2012; the actions of the next administration will be not only fundamental inter-Korean relations, but also to economic cooperation with the United States.
Under the ROK’s National Security Act (NSA), Lee’s regime has targeted
an organization called ‘Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea’ due to their advocating the closure of US army bases and stance against military drills. The organization has been involved in the campaign against the construction of the planned Jeju Island naval base and the heavy-handed conduct of the police and military in quelling dissenting villagers and activists. Members of an NGO which presented alternative findings regarding the alleged North Korean sinking of the Cheonan corvette ship in 2010 were heavily threatened by the South Korean government, which mobilized citizens to protest against experts who doubted the official conclusion. Under President Lee, the NSA has been used to indefinitely detain human rights defenders and citizens for voicing their political views on sites such as Twitter. In late 2011, a political opposition candidate was sentenced to a year in jail for participating in a radio podcast championing free speech
As the United States advertises its stake in the Asia-Pacific century, officials have used the threat of North Korea to maintain an unpopular military presence in the region, declaring it central to 21st century national security.
In the face of aggressive opposition by the South Korean & Japanese public, the U.S. Pacific Command may further its agenda by conveniently exacerbating the belligerent rhetoric of Pyongyang – only to further encircle a far more powerful China in their effort to develop new weapons, such as the world’s first anti-ship ballistic missile.
Much to the dismay of US political elites such as the cantankerous Senator John McCain, the Obama administration has approved the planned consolidation of American troops in South Korea to bases south of Seoul by 2016.
Under the proposed consolidation cited in the Strategic Alliance 2015 Roadmap
, the wartime operational control of Korean forces will transition from the US-ROK Combined Forces Command to the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff by December 2015. The US forces based in Korea will consolidate into the United States Korea Command, or US KORCOM. The US will maintain its current level of 28,500 troops, while cutting nearly half of its bases immediately South of the DMZ due to proposed budget restructuring. The next South Korea administration would aggregate mass public support by reasserting the ROK’s national sovereignty and further working to build a conducive relationship with the North by proposing new economic ties and eliminating US presence on the Peninsula.
The propagation of a future Korean conflict has the potential to serve as a mechanism to further restructure the world economic power structure, to the dictates of the grand chessboard
. Geopolitical events of the 20th century follow a directed history of managed conflict, where powerful Western banking families and their surrogate agencies employed a strategy of Hegelian Dialectic to bring Democracy, Capitalism and Communism to the world stage. The work of British researcher and author Antony Sutton detailed how the global banking elite financed and nurtured the Soviet Union
from its inception, providing economic and military aid with US taxpayer dollars. In the concluding chapter
of his book, “The Best Enemy Money Can Buy,”
Sutton exposes how the Soviet-backed North Korean Army used machinery either built in plants with U.S. Lend-Lease equipment or from Russia’s Gorky automobile plant, built by Henry Ford.
China and the Soviet Union contributed heavily to North Korea’s first missile program in the early 1960s
, based on technology developed by the United States. In 1994, the Swiss multinational giant Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) was awarded a $200 million contract with the North Korean government to install two light water nuclear power stations on the nation’s east coast following a deal with the US to freeze Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. Donald Rumsfeld, one of the Bush administration’s most vocal opponents to North Korea, presided over the contract with Pyongyang
when he was an executive director of ABB. The U.S. State Department claimed that the light water reactors could not be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium.
Henry Sokolski, head of the Non-proliferation Policy Education Centre in Washington disputed the claims of the US Government, offering, “These reactors are like all reactors, they have the potential to make weapons. So you might end up supplying the worst nuclear violator with the means to acquire the very weapons we’re trying to prevent it acquiring.” In 2002, the Bush Administration released $95 million US taxpayer dollars to begin construction of Pyongyang’s light water reactors, as part of the Agreed Framework. Just as Iraq became a threat to US security after Donald Rumsfeld armed Saddam Hussein with chemical and biological weapons, agents of globalism have engineered the North Korean threat.
The purpose of Globalism is to form a centrally managed sociopolitical system based on the Chinese model of authoritarian-capitalism. In order for this to be implemented, the livings standards of so-called developed countries must be eroded, while the standards of developed countries must be raised. Under the practice of fractional reserve banking, Central Banks have manipulated an economic climate favorable to BRICs nations, while simultaneously bankrupting the United States and Europe with unregulated money printing and destabilizing Free Trade Agreements. Much to the enthusiasm of Goldman Sachs
, trade between developing countries will soon to overtake trade between developed nations. In the expanding economies of developing countries, the number of households earning over US$50,000 is set to double by 2020
. The utter decay of the United States manufacturing sector
is not due to corporate maleficence, it is to reposition China in the world power structure.
In exchange for economic incentives and national security, nearly every South Korean administration has played junior to American interests, most prominently with President Lee Myung Bak. If another major conflict emerges on the Korean peninsula, joint US-ROK forces backed by an exhausted Pentagon would struggle against the military capabilities of China – Russia may be drawn into the conflict as well to protect their economic interests in North Korea. In the case of a joint Chinese-North Korean victory, China would formally emerge as the world’s military super power. Irrespective of geopolitical speculation, the Korean Peninsula once hosted warring superpowers – the continual orchestration of conflict for over six decades shows potential for another such conflict and its capacity to shift the world power structure to the managed dictates of Globalism.
Article originally posted Nile Bowie’s blog here. Nile Bowie is a syndicated freelance writer and photojournalist based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
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