Monday, May 31, 2010

Friendly Fire?

Sunday, May 30th saw a big demonstration against the findings of the international investigation that blamed North Korea for the sinking of the Cheonan.

South of the border, there is also a high degree of skepticism that North Korea were responsible for the Cheonan's sinking. According to Bloomberg:

Prime Minister Chung Un Chan ordered the government to find a way to stop groundless rumors spreading on the Cheonan’s sinking, the JoongAng Daily said yesterday. Prosecutors questioned a former member of the panel that probed the incident over his critical comments, the paper said. The Joint Chiefs of Staff sued a lawmaker for defamation after she said video footage of the ship splitting apart existed, a claim the military denies, Yonhap News reported.

Almost one in four South Koreans say they don’t trust the findings of the multinational panel, according to a poll commissioned by Hankook Ilbo on May 24. North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency yesterday accused the South’s “puppet military of trying to cover up the truth about the sinking” by seeking to silence opposition lawmakers with the lawsuit.

Indeed, North Korea's Defence Commission held a press conference in which they brought up what they see as inconsistencies in the report...

The Press Conference is reported, in typically temperate North Korean rhetoric, here.

But while North Korea are furiously denouncing those who blame them for the sinking of the Cheonan and it is reported that many in South Korea don't believe the official report, B R Myers points out that anger towards North Korea is quite limited in South Korea. He points out that anti-American protests in the past have far surpassed the anger levelled at North Korea right now:

This urge to give the North Koreans the benefit of the doubt is in marked contrast to the public fury that erupted after the killings of two South Korean schoolgirls by an American military vehicle in 2002; it was widely claimed that the Yankees murdered them callously. During the street protests against American beef imports in the wake of a mad cow disease scare in 2008, posters of a child-poisoning Uncle Sam were all the rage. It is illuminating to compare those two anti-American frenzies with the small and geriatric protests against Pyongyang that have taken place in Seoul in recent weeks.

Now, this is something that could lead a conspiracy theorist to wondering whether or not the sinking of the Cheonan by the North Koreans is a cover for the possibility of a "friendly fire" incident by the United States. It is quite clear that should the United States have sank the Cheonan instead of the North Koreans then the outrage would indeed be spontaneous and stronger than that of the anti-North Korean protests right now.

One of the proponents of this view is Kim Myong Chol, who is an "unofficial" spokesperson for North Korea who lives in Japan.

Kim Myong-Chol has argued that it is impossible for the Cheonan to have been attacked unawares by a torpedo from a North Korean submarine given that the Cheonan was on naval maneouvres at the time and one of its main jobs was to detect submarines and other enemy vessels. This is a repeat of what he had asserted before, here.

Of course, what he has to say on the incident should be taken with a pinch of salt given that he then goes on to threaten:

The Korean People's Army has been put on combat readiness. Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il is one click away from turning Seoul, Tokyo and New York into a sea of fire with a fleet of nuclear-tipped North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles.

But, I'd be interested to know what anyone has to say about his accusations...


Roderick Russell said...

Angrysoba - I am not sure why you put so much emphasis on North Korea. True, it is perhaps the most vicious and nasty dictatorship on earth. But everybody knows this, so what’s new? Sure it’s important to its neighbors, but Japan and China should have taken the lead and dealt with it a long time ago. Why should the rest of us be concerned?

angrysoba said...

Why should the rest of us be concerned?

I'm not asking you to be. Do you mind if I am?

Roderick Russell said...

Not at all! If I lived in Japan or South Korea I would be concerned too. But let’s leave it to Japan and China to deal with. The problem with the Neo Con view that failed States can be turned around by using military force is that it hasn’t worked anywhere; unless one thinks that the chaos that is Afghanistan and Iraq is success.

angrysoba said...

Well, as you know, I do live in Japan so I do take quite an interest in the nutty neighbours.

I don't advocate military intervention in North Korea but that doesn't mean that I think it should simply be left well alone for Kim Jong-il to treat "his people" how he wants.

There are only so many leaks the North Korean government can plug until information from the outside world will inevitably filter in (in fact, it is finally doing so now). The contradictions between that and official state propaganda can not be reconciled much longer.,9171,1993713,00.html

Roderick Russell said...

I couldn’t get your Time link to work. Perhaps the last few digits of the link didn’t print on your blog? As you say “The contradictions between that and official state propaganda cannot be reconciled much longer.”; so hopefully the people will resolve matters for themselves.

I have one obtuse long ago family link with Japan. My great aunt (an English School Teacher) went out to teach in Yokohama just in time for the great earthquake. Her previous post had been as a governess in St. Petersburg just in time for the Russian Revolution. So school teaching is not always dull; and certainly more honest than intelligence work.

angrysoba said...

Sorry, that link is here.

It's a review of two books, one of which - the B.R Myers one - I have just received.

Roderick Russell said...

Thanks, I got it. I though the comment “passions are at their most acute when directed against an external enemy” was most interesting. Not just Animal Farm in action, but even more reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984. These society’s usually are at their most dangerous when they are on the cusp of change, and we have never had a nuclear power go through this process before. Of course here in Canada and the UK our secret services have a few Orwellian problems of their own that need dealt with. As Rhisiart Gwilym wrote in Media Lens - “Roderick Russell getting precious little help from anywhere, as the Black Dogs of Animal Farm persecute him illegally.”