Nothing Sends a Message Like an Aircraft Carrier

| November 24, 2010 | 4 Replies

Early yesterday morning, North Korea launched a fussilade of over 100 artillery shells at the South Korean island of Yeonpeong. The attack killed two civilians and two marines, and wounded 18 others. South Korea returned fire with a smaller artillery barrage and scrambled attack aircraft. The Norks claim that an earlier South Korean military exercise encroached upon their territorial waters, but let’s face it, the North Korean government lies like you and I breathe air. It’s hard to imagine what real threat to its borders a relatively small exercise could have posed. The attack was far more likely a show of force by the heir-apparent to Kim Jong-Il, Kim Jong-Un, to prove that he’s every bit the tough guy his father has been. The Norks have attacked North Korean military and civilian installations a number of times in the past several months and this seems a continuation of that belligerence, not an escalation.

Today, President Obama followed up his strong condemnation of the attack with a carrier strike group.

The Pentagon has dispatched the aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS George Washington to the Yellow Sea for naval exercises with South Korea following the exchange of artillery fire between the North and South.

The exercises are likely to anger China which in the past pressed Washington not to send its aircraft carriers to the sea.

The U.S. military command in Seoul announced that the carrier will take part in exercises in “waters west of the Korean peninsula” from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1.

“This exercise is defensive in nature,” the statement said. “While planned well before yesterday’s unprovoked artillery attack, it demonstrates the strength of the [South Korea]-U.S. alliance and our commitment to regional stability through deterrence.”

The message to China should be clear: if you do not rein in your lapdog as we have asked, we may have to. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to start lobbing real munitions at North Korea, but with the USS George Washington in place, our ability to do so just increased a great deal. Thus far, the President’s policy of policy of isolation, personal letters, and everyone to the table negotiations hasn’t worked even a little. It might be necessary (though I don’t think we’re close to that yet) for him to give an order he clearly doesn’t want to give. Should that day come, I hope he will give it firmly and confidently .

(Some links via memeorandum)

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