Far be it from me to seem alarmist. The United States and our allies in South Korea stage war games and drills every year at this time, in March. It seldom amounts to much. They publicize that the maneuvers are not connected to current world events. The United States and South Korea have cordially invited media to cover several of the drill events in coming weeks. The part of the games and drills that might inspire some concern is the “Foal Eagle” training, to involve about 10,000 troops. These drills have been in the planning stage for months.
North Korea is viewed by the world as hostile and unpredictable. But as we know, when North Korea takes military action such as the sinking of the Cheonan or the shelling of Yeonpyeong, North Korean President Kim Jong ll takes exhaustive steps to explain his actions. The shelling of Yeonpyeong was aimed at the provocative missile launches from the South in connection with drills held with North America in an effort to make the never-accepted 38th parallel line of demarcation seem real and recognized. The North doesn’t speak indistinguishably, or casually. In recent mid level talks held within the Korean demilitarized zone, it was revealed that knowledgeable groups blame the President’s son, Kin Jong un for increased hostility. He is being groomed for statesman-hood. He may have a serious side to his nature.
The North Korean media Sunday and again Monday, charged that the exercises were in preparation for a preemptive nuclear attack on North Korea. Here is a quote from the Korean Central News Agency: “Their real intention was to fix around late in February, when Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, joint military exercises targeting the north and expected to be staged throughout south Korea in collusion with foreign forces, as the date for the full-dress talks in a bid to lead elsewhere the north side’s condemnation.” Analysts and defectors agree that the North Korean remarks go beyond rhetoric. North Korea’s army on Sunday said drills are aimed at removing the country’s nuclear weapons arsenal and destroying the country. It warned that provoking Pyongyang through the exercises would lead to “all-out war,” with the South Korean capital being turned into “a sea of fire.”
The United States maintains the attitude that if we deem the statements mere propaganda, that will indeed be the case. They say these statements from the North are a staple of North Korean propaganda apparatus. They say the North gets to bash the U.S., and South Korea, and “gin up” fear in them. The U.S. allies take the position that, since we have publicized the plans, the North should accept without response.
We had some wild animal tamers, in America, several years back. They taunted and provoked lions and tigers for the amusement of a Las Vegas audience. They took the attitude that if one assumes tigers will be tame and co-operative, they will be. Was it Siegfried or Roy who paid dearly for the misconception? Roy Horn was mauled nearly to death before a horrified crowd of onlookers at the Mirage Hotel Theater, on October 3, 2003, which started out a day of celebration and ended a night of terror.
It may be acceptable to ignore the warning of an aging father and his young son.
It may be an unacceptable provocation.