Thursday, June 22, 2006

Ignoring Japan

In advocating a move that would raise the spectre of a regional war, Carter and Perry (If Necessary, Strike and Destroy, Washington Post June 22, 20006) breezily dismiss a wider conflict on the Korean peninsula, but seem to entirely overlook the much more likely (and obvious) way in which the conflict could escalate. The first response from North Korea would almost certainly be an attack against Japan. This would not come as a surprise to many (other than these two writers) as North Korea has promised just such a retaliation for the past fifty years. The sophistication or the logistics of the strike would be unimportant -- what matters to North Korea is that opinion in the South would immediately turn against the US. South Koreans, already extremely divided on the US presence, will not be on the same side of Japan in a conflict against other Koreans.

The residual post-war anger felt by the Chinese public would force the CCP to enter the conflict. In Chinese eyes, any military reaction taken by Japan would be seen as a return to militarism. It only took a few Japanese textbooks to get millions of Chinese into the street in violent demonstration. A Japanese naval buildup, or even just aggressive words, could easily cause an explosive public outcry in China and force its leaders to support North Korea in the conflict.

From that point there are many ways that the conflict could go and none of them would be good.

I'm not sure what the appropriate response is to North Korean long range missiles. Perhaps destroying them is the way to go, but I'm very worried by writers like these who are big on bold, violent ideas but short on basic background knowledge. We Americans have made some pretty bad mistakes with this type of thinking

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Mike Burleson said...

Joel, I agree with you. This would be blatantly provacative. I think its a ploy to comvince the public Bush is weak on terror. Fat chance.

Mike's America said...

Funny how the left shouts we have to act in concert with our allies, when it comes to solving problems around the world, then all of a sudden, here we have a BIG problem and a bunch of them start suggesting unilateral action, such as blowing up these missiles on the pad or one on one talks.

South Korea is the weakest link in the chain. It's too bad we can't withdraw more of our troops and let the South Koreans maintain the bases in case we are required to return.

And as far as China goes, well they are playing both sides of this, trying to weaken the U.S. But the problem is that the Japanese aren't going to just sit there and let the game be played that way.

Joel Schectman said...

I don't know that I agree with portraying the left as a united block on the Korea issue.

Any move on the part of the Japanese will be seen by the whole region as a return to militarism, a perception that could ingite a huge shitstorm on the streets in Beijing and Seoul. Its a very dangerous situation which North Korea will certainly try to manipulate.