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An F/A 18E Super Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-27 takes off from the flight deck of USS George Washington as the destroyer Stethem steams alongside during flight quarters. // MC3 Devon Dow

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?

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4 Comments

  1. What do we expect?? We have let North Korea get away with taking the U.S.S. Pueblo, (I was over there then) shooting down our planes along with others planes, sinking South Korea’s ship and nothing happens to them.

  2. The US biggest problem in dealing with North Korea has always been South Korea’s desire to appease their northern neighbors. This isn’t a big surprise since there are thousands of artillery pieces burrowed into the mountains north of Seoul and thus any armed conflict, no matter how brief, would be a disaster for South Korea’s population and industrial base.

    If however they have had enough of crazy uncle Kim and want to put an end to this ridiculous state of affairs…we’ll it will be a huge s*** sandwich.

  3. The engagement of North Korea’s behavior has to be managed through their larger neighbor and sometimes regional patron, China. While the US should stand behind South Korea’s future response, it can’t be a polarized decision made within the vacuum of a tripartite relationship. Without China’s influence (however unsteady it may seem), the North Koreans’ next move could really come off the chain, so to speak and ignite not just another war on the peninsula, but a larger and even more dangerous regional conflict. Then we’re all headed down a slippery slope as the major players all have nuclear weapons of one sort or another.

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