Remember all those exercises South Korea held with the U.S. a few months ago to send a message to its pugnacious northern neighbor? You know, the ones that had the carrier George Washington steaming with the South Korean navy? The exercises that drove U.S.-Chinese relations to a low-point earlier this year? Well Kim Jong-Il didn’t pick up the phone, apparently.
This morning, the news broke that North Korea opened a barrage of artillery fire on South Korean troops, killing at least two people.
The question must be asked: How do the U.S. and South Korea abide this? The U.S. pulled out the biggest gun it had in the region the last time North Korea acted up — the 80,000-ton, four-and-a-half-acre George Washington and its escorts. It could be argued the situation is worse now than it was in the immediate wake of the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan. Our relationship with China has suffered since and, by extension, so has our ability to respond diplomatically, since China is our only real means of reaching out to North Korea.
Another round of naval exercises would further tick off the Chinese and, given this morning’s news, would it be effective? How effective were those exercises this year if it failed to deter further aggression from North Korea?
The Defense Department said today it was monitoring the situation “with concern,” but that any discussion of a military response would be “premature.”
Meanwhile, South Korea put the word out that any further aggression from North Korea could be met with an “enormous” military response.
This situation could get ugly in the coming days. What do you think should be the response?