USACTIONS IN RESPONSE TO THREATS FROM NORTH KOREA TOWARD SOUTH KOREA
Theworld has, since time immemorial, been experiencing a number ofconflicts. Indeed, there has been a multiplicity of conflicts both inthe early and contemporary human society, with the only variationbeing the magnitude of the conflicts, the participants and the typeof weapons that are used. In the contemporary human society,conflicts usually involve hi-tech weapons, which are bound to be morelethal in spite of the fact that some of them are controlledremotely. It is always the case that conflicts are centered aroundresources with the parties involved disagreeing on what should beconsidered whose’ entitlement and in what manner. In most cases,conflicts involve two parties, which should make the resolution ofthe disagreement relatively easier. However, the advent ofglobalization has allowed for increased unity among countries, whereconflicts with a particular country is bound to affect other nations.In this case, some countries have taken precautions to safeguardtheir interests by uniting and stating that any country that fightswith a member country would be deemed to have a conflict with all ofthem. This means that all countries within that union would berequired to take stern measures to fight the “outsider”. TheUnited States, as one of (or the sole) superpower, has taken up therole of the world police in enhancing the world peace and stability.Indeed, the United States has been becoming involved in conflictsbetween countries even in cases where it is not a direct party. Thisis the case for the conflict between North Korea and South Korea.
Relationsbetween the two countries have been precarious for a number ofdecades. Indeed, the division of peninsula resulted in a brutalconflict, whose official end is yet to be seen. Scholars have notedthat unification and reconciliation of the two countries remainsquite unlikely, just as it was more than six decades ago. Theconflict between the two countries can be traced to the end of SecondWorld War. Prior to 1945, Korea was a colony of Japan. The defeat ofJapan in 1945 resulted in a decision to strip it of all its coloniesincluding Korea1.It was proposed in August 1945 that the Soviet Union would takeresponsibility for the surrender of Japanese soldiers in the northernpart of the 38thParallel in Korean Peninsula, while the US would take the surrendersouth of the line. The proposal led to the separation and division ofa large number of villages and families across the line. It is worthnoting that the proposal was meant to be a temporary administrativesolution. The UN, after the war, agreed to supervise elections in thetwo sides in 1947 hoping to reunify Korea under a government that wasdemocratically elected. The Soviet Union, however, blocked theelections in the Northern part, choosing to support Kim II Sung asthe Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s leader (DPRK). TheUS, on the other hand, rendered its support for Syngman Rhee in thesouth, as the democratically elected leader. While Rhee and Kim werenationalists who warmed up to the idea of reunification despitehaving varying ideological visions. Both sides would occasionallyinstigate chaos across the 38thparallel, with an all-out war formally beginning in 1950 after thecrossing of the demarcation line by the DPRK in a swift effort toreunify the Peninsula2.This resulted in the convention of a security meeting by the UnitedNations Security Council, which passed a resolution that condemnedDPRK’s actions and demanded for the withdrawal of the Northernarmies from the South.
Howthe US has reacted to the Threats from North Korea to South Korea
Oneof the key reactions of the United States to the threats from NorthKorea to South Korea was the application of sanctions on North KoreanCompanies. In this case, companies that had links with North Koreanindividuals involved in money laundering or the proliferation ofweapons of mass destruction, as well as their delivery vehicles hadtheir accounts frozen. For instance, the Treasury Department, inOctober 2005 froze the accounts of North Korean companies that hadanything to do with proliferation of WMD, and prohibited its citizensfrom doing business with them. While it is well noted that the NorthKorean companies lacked any assets in the US, the sanctions wereaimed at restricting their access to international banking systemsthrough threatening to designate foreign entities that assisted thecompanies. The application of these measures was, for the first time,extended to companies beyond the proliferating countries3.This was the case for Kohas AG, a Swiss Industrial wholesale company,and its president, who had all their assets in the United Statesfrozen , with a prohibition being placed on US companies fromtransacting any business with them. This may have resulted from thefact that Kohas is partially owned by North Korean firm designated in2005 and had delivered good to the country that had weapon-relatedapplications4.These sanctions serve to deny the country of much needed financialresources, thereby brining them to the negotiation table.
Inaddition, The United States has reacted by the increasing threatsfrom North Korea to South Korea through arming the latter inreadiness for any violent confrontations. As Falletti and Hardy notedin Jane’sDefense Weekly, SouthKorea and the US came up with a joint counterattack plan that wouldallow for a swift but proportionate retaliation to any militaryprovocations that North Korea visits on the South Korea. This planwas aimed at reducing the likelihood for the occurrence of a majorescalation in the peninsula through undertaking an immediate responsein case of an attack from the North5.This agreement was reached after conclusions to the effect that theNorth could only be deterred from carrying out another provocationthrough undertaking an immediate response6.This was not the first time that the United States had taken suchcrude measures in combating threats from North Korea. Indeed,scholars have noted that the omissions and delays of North Korea indeclaring its nuclear holdings could have been motivated by theconsiderations of United States to use nuclear weapons in Korean War,as well as its stationing of the same in the South7.
Onthe same note, it is well acknowledged that combating the threats ofwar from North Korea would not be a two-state affair. As much as theUnited States is a superpower and is assumed to have the capacity toengage North Korea in a military confrontation, it is worth notingthat Pyongyang is a nuclear power that often threatens to use WMD onthe south. It is feared that the country, if driven to a desperatepoint may resort to the use of nuclear power as it does not have muchto lose. In essence, the United States has sought to enlist theassistance of countries that hold some leverage against North Koreaand that are deemed friendly to it as well. The Chinese comes as themost probable option. In the past, China has been afraid of thepotential consequences pertaining to the collapse Kim’s regimeincluding large-scale conflict, nuclear disaster, massivehumanitarian and refugee crisis, not to mention the ensuing controlof the Peninsula by the United States and South Korea8.In essence, its policy has revolved around propping up the North withsubsidized trade, aid and the urging restraint on the United Statesand South Korea to avert the possibility of triggering escalation orhastening the change of regime. It has always been encouraging allparties to avoid any acts that would destabilize the status quo andcontinue with negotiations, while peddling the notion that it ispossible to have political and economic reforms if such things wererewarded and encouraged. However, the capacity of China to support anentirely-dependent North Korean populace is simply limited, in whichcase it is imperative that any efforts to combat threats from NorthKorea to South Korea necessitate the unity of the three countries.While the US and South Korea may carry out the military strikes andsecure the nuclear facilities, China may send its military into thenation so as to control the movement of the population, secure thebiological, nuclear and chemical weapons, offer emergency relief,stop violence, as well as gain leverage in negotiations pertaining topermanent or even interim political conditions9.This, however, remains only as an option rather than an action thathas already been taken.
However,the United States’ actions have not been all about the use ofmilitary and violent measures to check the threats from North Koreato South Korea. Recent times have seen the United States becomeincreasingly involved in disarmament leadership, as well as moralauthority in an effort to persuade countries such as Iran and NorthKorea to get rid of their nuclear defiance, as well as encourage themto be more cooperative with nonnuclear regimes. The new era of UnitedStates’ disarmament leadership, as propagated by the Obamaadministration, is based on the rationale that other states will bemotivated to agree to tighten their non-proliferation rules, as wellas the enforcement of the same to respond to noncompliance. Thisseems to be an entirely new vision that is based on the belief thatthe Bush administration did not uphold the disarmament commitments ofthe country, thereby resulting in a serious undermining of thecountry’s moral authority. It is well acknowledged that somecountries perceive the United States as a self-serving nation thatwants to dictate to other countries on what they should do whilepreventing them from doing what the US is doing as far as nuclearnonproliferation and disarmament is concerned. This notion hasresulted in resentment among the nonnuclear weapon states, as well asnuclear weapon states including North Korea against the UnitedStates. This strategy underlines the fact that the approach that theBush administration used resulted in legitimacy issues that gavecredence to states that were not adhering to the Treaty on theNon-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) while allowing them totake advantage of divisions in the regime to weaken internationalresponses towards noncompliance. In essence, the key objective of theObama administration is to alleviate some of this damage, therebycreating a considerably less permissive environment for any countrythat aspires to engage in nuclear production. Such strategies ensurethat any country that violates the rules pertaining to internationalpeace would face consequences from all other players. Similarly, theUnited States has assured North Korea that it would not use force,all in an effort to create a conducive environment for negotiationsand elimination of the possibility of war between the two countries10.This would, essentially, eliminate the desire by countries such asNorth Korea to pursue nuclear programs with which they threaten theirsouthern counterparts.
Inaddition, there still are other unexploited but potential options forthe United States in countering the threats that North Koreainstigates against its southern counterparts. These, essentially,revolve around the North’s ideological agenda. It is well notedthat the political and military system of the North is rooted on theideology of the country. In essence, it is imperative that the UnitedStates and ROK comes up with propaganda that would be a reflection ofthe terms, language and style that is familiar to North Koreans. Inthis case, the DPRK propaganda would be countered with similar alliedpropaganda that would cultivate doubts among the leadership and themilitary of North Korea alike. For instance, the north encourages itsdomesticate populace and army with slogans that describe its soldiersas “one-a-match-for-a-hundred”, whose effectiveness is based oninformational vacuum in the country. This may be countered by slogansthat demonstrate a complete opposite, where a battle-hardened andwell-fed ROK or US soldier would be shown as being a match for ahundred or more KPA recruits or North Korean soldiers.
Inconclusion, the conflict between North Korea and South Korea has beenone of the most longstanding disagreements in the contemporary humansociety. As the global police, the United States has played anenormous role in maintaining peace and eliminating conflicts invaried parts of the globe. The conflict between the Koreas has beenparticularly crucial to the United States thanks to the position ofthe same in the World War and the fight of communism. With the Southbeing a strong US ally, it has become imperative that the UnitedStates undertake varied efforts to counter the threats from the NorthKorea to South Korea. These actions include sanctions againstcompanies that feed the country’s weapon industry so as to starvethe country financially. In addition, it has equipped the South withweapons and agreed to respond immediately in case of any provocationfrom the North. Moreover, the United States has enhanced cooperationwith other players such as China so as to seek its input in avertingthe probability of a conflict, not to mention efforts to counter thepropaganda that the North uses to sustain the loyalty of itssoldiers.
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1 Feffer, John. North Korea, South Korea: U.S. Policy at a Time of Crisis. New York, NY: Seven Stories Press, 2003.
2 Feffer, John. North Korea, South Korea: U.S. Policy at a Time of Crisis. New York, NY: Seven Stories Press, 2003.
3 Sanctions against North Korea, Strategic Comments, 12:3, 1-2, 2006
4 Sanctions against North Korea, Strategic Comments, 12:3, 1-2, 2006
5 Falletti, Sebastien and Hardy, James. South Korea and US plan for `swift, proportionate` response to North Korean provocation. Jane’s Defense Weekly, 2013.
6 Fitzpatrick, Mark. North Korea: Is Regime Change the Answer?, Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, 55:3, 7-20, 2013
7 Fitzpatrick, Mark. North Korea: Is Regime Change the Answer?, Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, 55:3, 7-20, 2013
8 Gompert, David C. North Korea: Preparing for the End, Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, 55:3, 21-46, 2013
9 Gompert, David C. North Korea: Preparing for the End, Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, 55:3, 21-46, 2013
10 Park, Sang Hoon. North Korea and the challenge to the US—South Korean Alliance, Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, 36:2, 78-91, 1994