Tuesday, July 27, 2010

USS George Washington Shows Up In Korea

USS George Washington Shows Up In Korea

Looks like the White House decided to go for the biggest gun for its gun-boat diplomacy in Korea.
From the BBC:
North Korea says it will use its “nuclear deterrent” in response to joint US-South Korean military exercises this weekend.
Pyongyang was ready to launch a “retaliatory sacred war”, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KINA) said, quoting defence officials.
Washington and Seoul say the war games are to deter North Korean aggression.
Tensions between the two Koreas have been high since the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.
An international investigation said the ship was sunk by a North Korean torpedo, a claim strongly denied by Pyongyang.
“All these war manoeuvres are nothing but outright provocations aimed to stifle the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [North Korea] by force of arms,” KCNA reported the powerful National Defence Commission as saying.
“The army and people of the DPRK will start a retaliatory sacred war of their own style based on nuclear deterrent any time necessary in order to counter the US imperialists and the South Korean puppet forces deliberately pushing the situation to the brink of a war.”
The BBC’s John Sudworth, in Seoul, says it is not the first time that North Korea has issued such a warning.
Although it is likely to be dismissed as the usual diplomatic brinkmanship, the rising tension will cause concern among governments in the region, he adds.
The ultra conservative Washington Times has a different take on the same item.
Chinese carrier pressure
The Obama administration has given in to pressure from China and will not send the aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS George Washington to the Yellow Sea for upcoming naval exercises. The move followed protests from Beijing that a warship group in that area would pose a threat to China.
The carrier, however, will take part in exercises beginning this weekend on the eastern side of the Korean Peninsula in the Sea of Japan, a location that was not opposed by China.
Officially, Pentagon spokesmen insist the decision on the Yellow Sea has not yet been made. But defense officials close to the issue told Inside the Ring the decision not to send the carrier to the next phase of the maneuvers, which are intended as a saber-rattling message to North Korea, is already set.
As a result, the officials said the failure to send the carrier will be viewed by China as a sign of U.S. weakness and will undermine U.S. efforts to maintain freedom of navigation in the western Pacific near China.
Sigh, only a man who has never served a day in his life in the military could make the point that Bill Gertz made. A Carrier group does not need to park itself in the Yellow Sea to make a point. It IS the point. It is a crass claim to a section of ocean some six hundred miles in diameter. It is a statement made in gray painted steel that you can put a major hurting on any person who wants to play in YOUR ocean. The George Washington does not need to be in the Yellow Sea to own that piece of salt water; it just needs to be in the general neighborhood.
A naval “exercise” in Korean waters by the George Washington Carrier Group is a very clear message to both China and North Korea. The Chinese can not be very happy that CVN-73 is docked in the Korean Port of Busan. They would much rather this hunk of steel still be at its homeport of Yokosuka, Japan. Instead the Chinese will have a whole bunch of heavily armed naval hardware sailing around the Korean peninsula.
Let’s hope that this turns out to be just another non-event. Let’s hope that the ships play their little sailor games and then go home: point made.

NoFortunateSon says:
I wonder if those American Flag lapel pins are Made in China.
I have an idea for a political cartoon…

If China wanted to reign in N. Korea they would, but they won’t because they have no interest in doing so.
Scared crapless they’ll end up with a refugee crisis on the border.

  • And it is the parlous state of North Korea that is the big rampaging bull elephant in the room that no one seems to want to point out.
    Things are going less than fabulous in the Hermit Kingdom of the Two Kims. The economy just fell through the floor. The leadership of the nation is being laid waist by a vicious succession crisis. The people are starving (again.) The military has just gone rouge, and the big kahuna is totally absorbed in passing on the whole mess to the son behind door number 3.
    What does China do if the whole thing does come undone? Their border is the easiest for the North Koreans to cross. If the North Koreans start voting the only way they can, with their feet, China will face an epic flood of none-to-happy refugees. South Korea will also have its hands full if the Northern regime collapses into the dust bin of history. Russia will not dodge the bullet either; they share a border with the land of the mourning Kims.
    Japan, the former colonial ruler of Korea, will have its own special issues if the North joins the Dodo in extinction. Korea has always been viewed by Japan as “The dagger pointed at the heart.” ( The Koreans strenuously object to such notions, as it has been Japan more often causing problems for Korea, rather than vice versa.)
    And what about the world’s only hyper-power? Well, the US is in economic distress, the military is way over-extended, and the leadership of the U.S. can be found in the dictionary, under “feckless.” Fun times for everyone, no?
    The only small comfort is that the collapse of the North has been predicted for the last twenty years. It is still there, larger than life, and twice as ugly. But the past is no guarantee of the present and with a leadership in North Korea, who knows what evil lurks? It definitely nothing a carrier task group can solve. There is only so much a large grey slab of floating metal can do.

    Yeah, but they also use N. Korea as a buffer state. It just seems like China isn’t pulling its weight these days.

    spincitysd says:
    Yes, China does think it benefits from the Korean peninsula’s present division. The thing is, as Taylor points out, the room for Chinese maneuver is wafer thin. You first have to figure out in what direction to apply force before pulling Secyclintonblog.
    Place the vector of force in the wrong direction, or in the wrong amount, and who-boy, the Middle Kingdom is going to be knee-deep in alligators. The term “getting hoist by your own petard” does not even begin to illustrate the amount of pain China will be in.
    The population of North Korea stands at approximately twenty three million. What happens if even 10% of that number get happy feet and stream into China? Nothing good, that is for certain.
    Besides the collapse of North Korea would be a major blow to the ruling philosophy of the Chinese government. Granted China is in reality a 19th Century, Social Darwinian, Capitalist economy, but in theory that is just a stopping point before the triumph of Mao and Marx. These philosophical musings matter because they underpin the Mandate Of Heaven that the Maoist state rests on.
    Then there is the growing leadership vacuum at the top of the North Korean government. China is at a loss of which levers to pull in the land of the Kims. Do they go with door number three and the ever so young third son of Kim Il Sung? Do they go with the older Kim sons behind doors one and two? Or do they go for the Pandora’s box that the North Korean military is displaying? If they tip their hand too soon in the succession struggle, it will go very bad for the Chinese. They have to sand by to stand by. And of course waiting and seeing presents it own very special problems for China. So many ways to screw the pooch, and no truly safe answer.
    China maybe freeloading, but a more likely scenario is that the leadership is having a dear-in-the-headlights moment viz North Korea. It is a soup sandwich in the North right now; no one really has an idea of how this will play out.

    • So you don’t think they can reign in N. Korea at all with even a quiet hint of cutting back their huge amount of financial aid to N. Korea? Kim Jong Il may be bat crazy but he seems to treat China with deference, as he should.
      I’m not talking about China doing anything drastic, I’m talking about it seeming like China isn’t even using some of the more basic tools at its disposal to get N. Korea to simmer down a bit. I know China doesn’t want millions of new residents swarming the border but I think China holds some cards that could sway Kim Jong Il and I’m just wondering if China is even pulling out those cards or whether they are using the Paranoid Kingdom’s threats of acting out to their own short-term advantage.
      Also, and this is just a question because I honestly don’t know- Is it realistic that 10% or 5% or 3% of the population would even be able to attempt to swarm the border, given that life is already a miserable hell, with people starving and being unbelievably oppressed, not to mention scared sh*tless what would be the tipping point for the swarm given things are already so bad? China doesn’t tolerate much and the world doesn’t seem to really care. People that tried to cross en masse- wouldn’t that be a suicide mission?

    • I do not think that China has as free and facile a hand in controlling the Hermit Kingdom as many suppose. The leadership is in turmoil in North Korea, and it could very well bite the hand that feeds it. Place the wrong pressure at the wrong time, and the blow-back could be fairly gruesome for China. Please note that Kim is bumping off senior cadres at a frightening clip. That is a problem for China; the man in Korea they lean on today might be dead tomorrow. Kind of screws up your messaging when your messenger ends up shot in the back of the head.
      For your second question, the Yalu river is something of a joke as an international border. Think the Asian equivalent of the Rio Grande. So, yes, it is a border easily breached. If the North Koreans get desperate enough, you could see the human equivalent of Penguins vs. Killer Whale. The Korean penguins just flood the zone, sweeping the Chinese Killer Whales to one side. Some Koreans die, but there is no way for the Chinese to get them all.
      Just the strain of defending the Yalu border against millions of North Koreans would be a major headache for China. The loss of face alone, caused by millions of Koreans deserting socialism, would be mortifying for China.
      As someone who has read far too much history for normal functioning; I can tell you we have seen this movie before. Think the fall of Rome. Rome was able to keep the Germanic hoards at bay until it wasn’t. And boy-howdy, when it wasn’t, those foot-loose Germans had one hell of a coming out party. Yes, dear secyclintonblog , once those North Koreans get a serious case of happy feet, anything is possible.
    spincitysd says:
    US and S Korea begin joint drill
    The US has begun military exercises with its ally South Korea in the Sea of Japan in a show of force that North Korea has warned could trigger nuclear war in the region.
    The joint naval and air drills, code-named “Invincible Spirit”, began on Sunday and came four months after the sinking of a South Korean warship that has been blamed on the North.
    About 8000 US and South Korean troops, 20 ships and submarines and 200 aircraft are taking part in the drill, which the US and South Korea have said is aimed at curbing the North’s “aggressive” behaviour.
    The exercises will be held in South Korean and international waters over the next four days and have prompted an angry reaction from Pyongyang, which has described the exercise as an “unpardonable military provocation”, and threatened to counter it by using their “powerful nuclear deterrence”.
    “The army and people of the DPRK will legitimately counter with their powerful nuclear deterrence the largest-ever nuclear war exercises to be staged by the US and the South Korean puppet forces,” the country’s National Defence Commission said in a statement on Saturday.
    War of words
    The statement went on to threaten a “retaliatory sacred war” that would be based on a “nuclear deterrent”.
    Washington said on Friday that it had no interest in getting into a war of words with the North.
    I’ll leave it more informed minds as to whether North Korea’s Nuclear threat is believable. The last I heard, the attempt by the minions of Kim Il Sung to create the big boom was an embarrassing fizzle. The conventional TNT part of the bomb went off, but there was no, repeat no implosion, and thus no thermonuclear explosion.
    On a strictly tactical level, the big boom will put out a carrier group without much effort. That is assuming you can bring the device to target. That is also assuming that you can live with the strategic consequences of such an attack. Nuking a joint fleet in the Sea of Japan is not the best way to make friends and influence people.
    There is something both scary and pathetic about North Korea waving around its pitiful handful of (possibly non-functional) nukes as a gambit. You almost want to tell Kim Il Jung ” put that thing down; you’ll poke out an eye with it.”
    As much as I am not a fan of the government in Peking, they have a point. All this military saber-rattling appears to be over-done. Did the U.S. and it’s allies really need to send out twenty odd ships attached to a CTF and 8,000 troops? It sure looks like overkill. A more measured Naval response would be to send out some P-3 Orions, and a some Arliegh Burke class destroyers to patrol the Yellow Sea. Instead the U.S. is bringing the circus to town.
    Once this bit of nonsense is over with, I hope that the Administration crafts a real military response to the threat of North Korean subs. The best possible answer is diplomatic one. Unfortunately North Korea has an awful record of keeping its word on diplomatic agreements.
    Since the diplomatic response appears unlikely to bring any concrete results, it looks like the U.S. and its allies will have to spool up a better military response. A constant presence of Korean , Japanese and U.S. anti-submarine and reconnaissance assets will probably have to be deployed in or near the Yellow Sea. In the long run, such a focused response to the torpedoing of the Cheonan is a better idea than having the USS George Washington swaggering around the Sea of Japan.

    • Too funny: “There is something both scary and pathetic about North Korea waving around its pitiful handful of (possibly non-functional) nukes as a gambit. You almost want to tell Kim Il Jung ” put that thing down; you’ll poke out an eye with it.”
      In a way, their nuclear incompetence poses as much of a threat as anything else.
      Can you imagine what it must be like working in one of N. Korea’s nuclear installations? No environmental protections, no workplace safety, horrible pay. It’s an accident waiting to happen.

      • ” Can you imagine what it must be like working in one of N. Korea’s nuclear installations? No environmental protections, no workplace safety, horrible pay. It’s an accident waiting to happen.” Secyclintonblog.
        Yes, one wonders, how do you say “Chernobyl” in Korean

        1. secularhumanizinevoluter says:
          “A Carrier group does not need to park itself in the Yellow Sea to make a point. It IS the point. It is a crass claim to a section of ocean some six hundred miles in diameter. It is a statement made in grey painted steel that you can put a major hurting on any person who wants to play in YOUR ocean. The George Washington does not need to be in the Yellow Sea to own that piece of salt water; it just needs to be in the general neighborhood.”
          “It is a crass claim to a section of ocean some six hundred miles in diameter.”
          What, they don’t have any A4 ciws or refueling tankers on board?
          At this point in life I am generally, unless there is a REAL threat or we have been attacked, pretty low key on the use and display of military I’ll kick yer ass without even breaking a sweatmanship, but it does stir some primal spot in my innerds just reading the discription(with the exception of “crass” of the battlegroup.
          Uncle Sugar can still put a hurtin on ya better then anyone else in the world!

          • The limitation of the CTF is in the very aircraft it carries. Those pilots do have to land sooner or later. The aircraft can be refuled in air, but mission time is a fairly inflexible number. Plus inflight refuling in combat zone is not a very good idea. Also remember the carrier can move, thus the six hundred mile area of control is very flexible; just add water and mix.
            As to the word “crass.” Take a look at what the CTF is and what it brings. One aircraft carrier and its flight wing, up to two Aegis class destroyers, up to two Perry Class frigates, one fleet oiler. Plus it also brings an ARG ( Amphibious Ready Group ) That is one baby flat top, its own screen of destroyer or Perry Class frigate, and Landing ships of various description that carry a passel of Jarheads. Plus lurking under the water is a SSN just to add to the flavor. That is a rather big collection of naval hardware doing droughts in the water. It may not be crass, but it sure ain’t subtle Sec.

        2. secularhumanizinevoluter says:
          A4 COWS

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