Monday, July 10, 2006

Pearl Harbor II: stupid ideas from clever people

The buzz is that Japan is considering a pre-emptive strike on North Korea. Pardon me, but isn't that what they did in 1941? At least this time they've had the courtesy to float the idea in public.

Kim Il-Jung is a whack job by just about anyone's estimation. But let's put things in perspective here. All North Korea's done is test the military capacity of some of its boosters. Yeah, they have a point to make, sure. But isn't that the idea whenever a country tests a new weapons system? It seems to me the idea is, universally, to tell everyone else "this is what I can do, don't mess with me". North Korea didn't attack Japan, didn't kill a single Japanese soldier or civilian. The response of the Japanese to do just that to Koreans is utterly indefensible — particularly considering their recent history (more on this in a moment). If demonstrating offensive military capacity is all the excuse you need to actually attack someone, then perhaps the Chinese ought to simply nuke the US carrier groups currently (or at least recently) on maneuvers just outside their territorial limits, and we can get the whole silly era of human stewardship of this planet over with and let the rats have their turn.

Facetious commentary aside, for Japan to attack North Korea would be a vastly stupid undertaking. South Korea is currently seeking reconciliation with the North — if not actual reunification, then at least the normalization of relations and the ability to move goods and maybe even people back and forth without too much trouble. This has already strained South Korea's relations with the United States. Moreover, South Koreans take an increasingly dim view of the ever-tightening relationship between the US and Japan. Given the suffering Koreans enduring under the Japanese within living memory, anything that smacks of the return of a militaristic Japan must be greeted with the most extreme froideur imaginable. And not just by Koreans. The Chinese, too, have horror stories of the Japanese occupation of Manchuria. Lest we forget (and clearly, the Chinese and Koreans never have), Japan has never apologized for those attrocities, or offered compensation, or even publically acknowledged they took place... to the point of ignoring them in the histories they teach their children. Little wonder young Japanese, with a clean, guilt-free past, can envision a militarily forward Japan in a way young Germans cannot of their own country. And so for Japan to attack North Korea would be the height of short-sighted stupidity, transferring at a stroke the role of Asia's pariah nation from North Korea to Japan. The military ramifications for a China and Korean peninsula given bloody demonstration of Japan's recidivism are frightening to contemplate.

One wonders if there will be "comfort women" this time.

No comments: