As I prepare this article for Blogcritics, a look at the news indicates that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has yet to comment or to become involved in the late breaking and serious news from Korea. North Korea has proudly pointed to its nuclear capacity. It has paraded troops and weapons, bearing signs reading, “Defeat the U.S. Military” and “U.S. Soldiers are the Korean People’s Army’s Enemy.” And most importantly Korea has launched mortar shells at population centers in the South, killing innocent civilians.
Some say, as Hillary Clinton was among the first to suggest earlier, that “Pyongyang is intentionally acting in a provocative and combative way so as to gain world and U.S. attention, resulting in favorable treatment in economic… [and such spheres].” North Korea in recent months said of Secretary of State Clinton ” [she is] by no means intelligent.” They called her a “funny lady.” They continued, “Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping.” Following that exchange, Secretary Clinton’s husband, former American President Bill Clinton, at his own expense, traveled to North Korea, and was able to regain some respect and undo some of the damage. Perhaps the Secretary of State is intimidated by the situation. It is probable that by the time this piece gets to the readers at BC, Secretary Clinton will have taken some action. I hope so.
As it happens, our Vice-President, Joe Biden, is a brilliant negotiator and diplomat. He has an unusual capacity to understand and to identify with those in distant parts of the world. In the face of the urgency of this situation, he may be the best choice for utilization.
It might be helpful to young readers to review a concise history of the Korean war, fought during the Truman, and Eisenhower administrations of the mid-twentieth century.
Let’s recall some of the history of the animosities during the late 1940′s and the 1950′s between the North and South sectors of Korea. The loss of life to both sides was beyond comprehension. U.S. losses were placed at over 54,000 dead with 103,000 wounded. Chinese and Korean casualties are estimated in each case as ten times as high. History views the Korean War as having been based on ideologies; Communist against non-communist.
On June 25, 1950, North Korean forces invaded South Korea. In the first weeks of the conflict the North Korean forces met little resistance and advanced rapidly. On June 27th, The United Nations condemned the invasion, calling it an “act of aggression”; President Truman authorized the use of land, sea, and air forces, appointing General Douglas MacArthur supreme commander. At a turning point of the war, on September 15th, 1950, U.N. forces made a daring landing at Inchon on the west coast. North Korean forces fell back and MacArthur received orders to pursue them into North Korea. On October 19, the North Korean capital of Pyongyang was captured. Then the Chinese Communists joined with the North Koreans to launch a successful counterattack. The Communists advanced into the South, capturing Seoul, the South Korean capital.
After several more months of fighting, the dividing line was at the 38th parallel, the dividing line to this day between North and South Korea. Newly elected President, former US General Dwight D. Eisenhower, pledged to end the war. Negotiations broke down on four occasions, but after much difficulty, and nuclear threats by Eisenhower, an armistice agreement was signed on July 27, 1953. We note that nuclear threats played an important role in the armistice.
Although an armistice was agreed to and signed, there was never an end to that war. North Korea still maintains a now passive role of domination. North Korea is angered by military maneuvers in the south that might culminate in a new determination of Southern independence.
In conclusion: an attack on South Korea, and an expression of ongoing hatred for the United States, is no small matter. The American Secretary of State might do well to seek her husband’s council, and to take what she can from advisors.