sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Update and Perspectives

One Perspective

"In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." I think of this quote often these days when the media attacks the President for doing the right thing. There's a lot of blindness inside the beltway, in the hallowed halls of the mainstream media, at Satan's Vatican and the rest of America's elite universities. And I'm not saying that wisdom is reposed in fly-over country exclusively, but even one eye is better than being totally blind - in a metaphorical sense.

The nation elected Donald Trump as president. It elected legislators where Republicans are in the majority. It did these things to restore balance to the dismal years of Obamanation that we experienced. And Obama re-entered the political spotlight (as if to say, NO, I'm Spartacus), stumping for candidates, and then mysteriously withdrew. Has he stopped sending a tingle up the legs of homosexual males? I can't say. You'd have to ask them.

It may be wishful thinking, but my sense is that the Republicans will keep control of the legislature in the mid-term.

Meanwhile, the work at the White Wolf Mine continues, and with the lease on the interim house expired and me moved out, I'm staying with children in the mean time. It's nice to spend time with the grandkids, and consulting work continues, so I'm not underfoot all that much. But the situation is far from ideal.

Now a few other observations:

North/South Korea

On 16 October, North Korea, South Korea and the United Nations Command convened their first three-way meeting to discuss demilitarizing the Joint Security Area at Panmunjom.

Other topics up for discussion are an evaluation of progress in removing landmines and guard posts, adjustments to border surveillance equipment, and ways to mutually verify demilitarization efforts. The US was displeased by the military annex to the Pyongyang Declaration because it was not consulted. A military agreement between the two Koreas, who are technically still at war, is not a bilateral issue, and the senior Alliance partner was not involved. The Commander of the UN Command in Korea is a US Army General who is also the Commander of US Forces Korea. The US is now involved, and the US Commander said he supports tension reduction measures, including the removal of land mines and some guard posts along the Demilitarized Zone.

However, the agenda was set by military leaders from the two Koreas. They are the parties who agreed to disarm the guards in the Joint Security Area, remove land mines, establish a no-exercise zone and to reduce the number of guard posts. Ironically, the guards on the South Korean side represent the UN Command, which was not a party to the Pyongyang military agreement. 

On 15 October, the two Koreas agreed to begin reconnecting rail and road links. The agreement on transport links was reached during talks at Panmunjom, as agreed at the third summit between South Korean President Moon and North Korean Chairman Kim last month.

The two sides agreed to hold ceremonies in late November or early December to inaugurate work on reconnecting railways and roads that have been cut since the 1950-53 Korean War.

This agreement, per se, probably does not violate the letter of the UN Security Council sanctions, but it is inconsistent with the purpose of the sanctions to maintain pressure on North Korea. The timing of the ceremonies implies that the two parties expect sanctions will be eased by then.

Security of South Korea, or increased South Korean vulnerability to an attack, is one of the key concerns of Korean experts. Several of the non-military, high-cost/high-value indicators of North Korean war preparations for 70 years are preparations of the infrastructure north of the DMZ to support high volume transit by tanks, other military vehicles and troops and high-volume communications. 

South Korea has agreed to take actions as confidence-building measures, to reward Kim for his sincerity, that would relieve the North from having to take them in the ramp-up to war. In addition, South Korea also has removed some of its own mines whose wartime purpose is to slow up any attacking North Korean ground forces.

Some might argue that North Korea has made itself vulnerable too. The difference is that the North Korean armed forces have a primary mission of unifying Korea by force. Kim has not renounced that mission. Conversely, South Korean forces have the primary mission of preventing unification by force. That mission is being made more challenging.

The greatest threat to North Korea is that its population (and military) will see how the leaders have screwed them for so many decades and will take matters into their own hands. It's worth watching to see how all of this unfolds.

Israel-Palestinian Authority

On 14 October, the Israeli army issued an order for the school to be closed, but students tried to enter on Monday morning alongside some officials. Israeli soldiers and border police fired tear gas at protesters, including into the school premises. Four people were hit by rubber bullets, the Palestinian Red Crescent said, with a number of others affected by tear gas. An AFP photographer also was injured in the clashes.

Concerning the Gaza Strip, at least 24 Palestinians were injured, and dozens of others suffered from shots and tear gas fired by the Israeli navy toward Palestinians who demonstrated near the maritime border with Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip.

Israeli jets also were active attacking launching sites for arson balloons, at groups throwing firebombs at Israeli soldiers and at a pair of men who tried to blow a hole in the border fence.

The Palestinians appear determined to test Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s threat to launch a “different” response if the violence continues. 

This is news/not news. You could pick up an Israeli newspaper from ten years ago and nearly identical stories would grace its pages. However it is indicative of insipid discontent - some legitimate, some ginned up. The Palestinians could have peace and a good way of life if the leadership wanted it - but they never want a good crisis to go to waste because without a war, they would lose power.