WILL GRANNY BE RIGHT?
Temecula, CA – At the last Vault all-ages show to be covered in a fun report later, I picked up the latest
“In the last days the world will come to the brink of disaster, then like magic, a man will step out of the shadows and the world will be saved…, everyone will breathe a sigh of relief and then when everyone relaxes, and goes whew, BOOM!” – My Granny, when I was 13 years old.
Now approximately 54 years later, old (loser, Skull&Bones) John Kerry had this to say to Kim Jung un, the young, no-nonsense, 3rd generation commander-in-chief of North Korea, “We’ve heard an extraordinary amount of unacceptable rhetoric from the North Korean government in the past few days... the US will protect ourselves and our treaty partner ally, the Republic of Korea,” he said at a press conference after the meeting with Yun Byuang Se, South Korea’s foreign minister, in Washington. The two discussed the threat of war with Pyongyang.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, over the weekend Kim issued orders to fire up the old nuke plant that had been shuttered as part of the 2007 nukes for aid deal, after a missile destroyer hit Korean waters following the deployment of F-22 stealth fighters. At last word, a total of two Navy ships have slated for the Korean coastline.
More US equipment has been moved into position and the annual war games, the source of the original irritation, are set to play on another month. The UN has entered the ring of referees also. Though lower level Russians are urging restraint, Putin and the top brass are waiting to see how this plays out in a classic sidelines chess move. However, the 800lb. gorilla in the room is China, itself located just across a river dividing line. Before I bring you the rest of the China part of the report, remember, America doesn’t owe China a ton of money; the Federal Reserve does, just saying.
China has started mobilizing military forces around the Korean peninsula in response to rising tensions that follow recent threats by North Korea to launch missile attacks against its southern neighbor and the United States.
According to US officials, Pyongyang’s declaration of a ‘state of war’ against South Korea has led to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to increase its military presence on the border with the North. The officials say the process has been going on since mid-March, and includes troop movements and readying fighter jets. The PLA is now at ‘Level One’ readiness, it’s highest.
Chinese forces, including tanks and armored personnel carriers, have been spotted in the city of Ji’an and near the Yalu River, which splits China and North Korea. Other border regions were also reportedly being patrolled by planes.
China has also been conducting live-firing naval exercises in the Yellow Sea, scheduled to end on Monday. The move is widely viewed as open support for North Korea, which continues to show extreme opposition to the US-South Korean military drills that are to last until May.
The news comes as the US deployed its USS Fitzgerald destroyer off the coast of North Korea, adding to its Sunday deployment of F-22 fighter jets to take part in the drills with the allied South, which has further served to heighten tensions on the peninsula.
Meanwhile, North Korea has been mobilizing its short and medium-range missile arsenal, according to analyses of satellite imagery. Officials say Pyongyang is set to test its new KN-08 medium-range mobile missile; they say preparations have been spotted in the past. Pyongyang says that since March 26, its forces have been placed on their highest possible status of alert.
Although officials believe Pyongyang will not provoke Seoul during the war games, they also fear that a miscalculation by South Korea could lead to all-out war, following its promise of retaliation against the North, should it launch its missiles first.
North Korea and China have maintained a long-standing defense treaty under which Beijing is to come to Pyongyang’s aid in the event of an attack. The last time this was put into practice was during the Korean War, when tens of thousands of Chinese volunteer forces were deployed on the Korean Peninsula. The relationship between the two countries is often referred to as being “as close as lips and teeth” by Chinese military spokesmen.
Despite the heated tensions leading to an apparent disruption in trade and commerce between China and North Korea, the two are already making future plans to bolster their economic ties. March 27 saw the announcement of a new high-speed railway, as well as a special highway passenger line.
Still, many in Chinese circles have shown displeasure at Pyongyang’s seemingly aggressive relationship with Seoul and Washington. A Chinese official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, has testified that US presence in the region is a helpful restraint against an unpredictable Kim Jong-un, which many believe to be the real reason Beijing has not been strong in its criticism of the amassing of US forces in the region.
Furthermore, Chinese websites and blogs could sometimes be found openly bashing the North Korean leader for an apparent mishandling of the situation in the region, playing diplomatic games amid chronic food shortages in his country. An editor at the country’s Study Times newspaper was recently suspended for openly criticizing China for abandoning North Korea.
Expert opinion differs on what China’s exact position is in the unfolding regional crisis. US officials claim the China’s main fear is a collapse of order in North Korea, which would lead to a large-scale refugee flow into China.
Another possible reason for China to worry is advanced by journalist James Corbett, host of the Corbett Report, who believes that foreign military presence in the region is just as unnerving to China as it is to Pyongyang. He discussed this in the light of the latest war drills.
“I think that this has the possibility of ratcheting things up to the point where tensions might actually spill over as a result of this, and we saw that recently with the deployment of B-2 nuclear armed bombers in South Korea which is not only, I think, worrying to Pyongyang, but also to China, to have nuclear bombers that close to the peninsula there, on China’s southern border. I think that China wouldn’t be pleased with that either, so this is quite an escalation that’s taking place.”
Others believe openly that the US strategy is geared not towards the destabilization of North Korea, but that of China. Li Jie, an expert with a Chinese navy research institution, has told Reuters that “the ultimate strategic aim is to contain and blockade China, to distract China's attention and slow its development. What the US is most worried about is the further development of China's economy and military strength."
Retired Major General Luo Yuan, who is one of China’s foremost military authorities, believes, however that "once the joint US-South Korean exercises have finished and with birthday celebrations for (late founder of North Korea) Kim Il-sung imminent, the temperature will gradually cool and get back to the status quo of no war, no unification."
While it has been urging calm and peace in the region, Beijing has been very obliging at the UN Security Council, when it helped push through the latest round of sanctions against North Korea in March, following its third nuclear test the previous month. Despite being Pyongyang’s greatest ally in the region, some experts believe this is a sign of Beijing’s growing impatience. American diplomat Christopher R. Hill, who helped under the Bush administration to negotiate a deal for the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear facilities (which didn’t last), says that the Chinese strategy is “not about the words, it is about the music.”
The latest war resolution came hours after North Korea, angered at both the US-South Korean war games, and at the proposed UN plan, threatened pre-emptive nuclear action against the South and US military bases in the region.
North Korea escalated its provocative rhetoric on Thursday, warning that its military is authorized to wage "cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified" nuclear strikes to protect against the United States.
"The moment of explosion is approaching fast. No one can say a war will break out in Korea or not and whether it will break out today or tomorrow," read the statement of an unnamed military spokesman.
The statement, which was carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), informs the White House and the Pentagon that "the merciless operation of its revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified."
The warlike rhetoric is the latest escalation in a series of threats from Pyongyang, which claims the joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises taking place in the South are in preparation for an invasion.
"The U.S. high-handed hostile policy toward the DPRK aimed to encroach upon its sovereignty and the dignity of its supreme leadership and bring down its social system is being implemented through actual military actions without hesitation," the military statement read.
The United States says the exercises are routine military drills.
This latest standoff between North and South Korea and the US is credited to have started on February 12, when Pyongyang supposedly performed its latest underground nuclear weapons test. Just this weekend, North Korea vowed to boost its nuclear arsenal, calling it a “treasure of a reunified country” which it would never trade for anything, even “billions of dollars” worth of aid.’
(Story sources – RT.com, MSNBC, all emphasis – Ed.)