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Arms race
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on October 10, 2006 95 Comments 6 min read
Neither North Nor South Is Closer to Reunification Previous Retake? Recount! Next

Papers around the world recoil in horror over North Korea’s nuclear test. Or, as the Korean Central News Agency grandiosely phrased it, “The nuclear test was conducted with indigenous wisdom and technology 100 percent.” Oddly enough, the official North Korea propaganda site says nothing. Unease had already been expressed, as this AFP story in the China Post shows, even prior to the actual test. The test came in the wake of a long-awaited thaw in Sino-Japanese relations.

Meanwhile, scientists are scrambling to validate whether there was a test or not. The clearest indication was a jolt equivalent to a 4.9 magnitude earthquake. Don’t know if many will buy the idea that it’s a North Korean hoax, though.

The Korea Times sets the tone:

North Korea tested a nuclear weapon yesterday morning in defiance of the wishes of peaceloving countries of the world. The worst scenario, ever imagined on this peninsula, has become a reality. More than 40 million people living in South Korea are on the verge of being taken a hostage by the nuclear weapons of the North.

The Philippine government is also upset, as are world governments, particularly China and the USA.

Newspaper editorials compete to put forward various regional points of view. The Sydney Morning Herald asks,

But it is difficult to decide who has failed the most. Was it Mr Bush, who chose to confront the North Koreans in October 2002 over a covert uranium enrichment program, and rebuffed Pyongyang’s subsequent efforts to bargain a place in the American sun? Or the South Koreans, seeing their “Sunshine Policy” of the past few years milked by the North with little conceded in return? Or the Chinese, with their six-nation diplomatic effort getting nowhere and their past military sacrifices and long-running economic aid to prop up North Korea counting for little?

The Arab News editorial pins the blame on George Bush, Jr. The Daily Yomiuri thinks the Sino-Japanese rapprochement offers prospects for further cementing ties.

Papers such as The Australian call for sanctions; the Korea Herald appeals for renewed talks;

In his column, John Mangun says the effects of intensified security concerns will be palpable in the Philippines: reduced Japanese and South Korean investments abroad, including the Philippine economy, as both countries beef up their armed forces and focus on defense spending. Fred Kaplan lists four scenarios concerning North Korea -“all bad,” because China and America are “blunderers.”

From Newsbreak comes commentary from Thailand: the King of Thailand says the situation is dire.

The Inquirer editorial eulogizes a slain bishop and focuses on the nationalism of the Philippine Independent Church. Juan Mercado says the country’s been perpetually deprived of closure for decades. For his part, Conrado de Quiros firmly sticks to a retake the exam position, and speaks of overseas Filipino feelings on the nursing exam issue:

Having just come from the United States, which is where many of the examinees dream of going, I do have some idea of the impact the news of the tainted licensure exams has had there. The Filipino community is monumentally dismayed by it. And what is monumental dismay to the Filipino community can easily be monumental distrust to the American hospitals. The successful examinees don’t retake the test, they will have their applications for work abroad scrutinized by their prospective employers more ferociously than their applications for visas by the US and British embassies.

In other news: 1,500 MW of power needed; we may repay some debts early; Lehman Bros. recommends credit upgrade for the country.

In the blogosphere, Belmont Club looks into what kind of nuke was actually tested by North Korea -and whether there’s been a follow-on test (listen to his podcast as well). The Daily Nightly blogs something I wish we’d see more of: the impressions of a TV journalist as they observe a scene -in this case, from the UN Security Council.

TPM Cafe has Stirling Newberry pointing out Republican culpability in the whole thing:

There is a round of Washington led diplomacy for further sanctions. However, the North Korean nuclear train left the station years ago, even as the United States was boarding the Baghdad Express.

For those of us who grew up in the shadow of nuclear war, the the return of the ticking of the atomic clock represents a proof that the post-Cold War moment has been wasted in the wastelands.

George Bush and his bully boys talk the talk of being tough, but they do not walk the walk. Instead of dealing with the emerging atomic states – Pakistan, North Korea and Iran, the decision was made to wage a war of aggression in Iraq. We did not invade Iraq because Saddam had WMD, but because he did not. We did not invade Iraq because Saddam was a threat, but because he was not. It was seen as a cheap way of creating the impression of an America willing to used armed force. It seemed that the oil would pay for the war. It seemed a way of gaining partisan political advantage. It seemed a series of blank checks for military pork.

Coffee With Amee reminds us Jaime Florcruz, CNN correspondent in China, is a Filipino.

ExpectoRants points to indie films on the MV Solar oil spill being censored.

Since I quote editorials a lot, here’s an interesting dissection by Mediashift on whether newspaper editorials should continue to be written or not:

That said, despite all the truths embodied in Gillmor’s maxim that news is no longer a lecture but a dialogue and the consequent necessity for editorialists to engage discussion, not end it, the role of editorialist remains a vital one. Why? Because he or she gets what most others in the conversation don’t - namely, a regular paycheck to study, think, listen and write about issues others care about or are discussing.

Even in the Internet age, the vast majority of folks with something to say in cyberspace spend most of their time making a living and living their lives. The issues of the day aren’t their first concerns, nor should they be. Editorialists on the other hand make their living doing that thinking/listening/studying/writing thing. Taken seriously and carried out in an intellectually honest manner, such a role ought to carry some weight.

And on papers in general, here’s Opus, by Berkely Breathed (weekly, in the Washington Post):

7/9/06
Wpopu060709

5/14/06
Wpopu060514

Tonight’s The Explainer is on ROTC and proposals to make it mandatory again.

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  1. why make rotc mandatory anew? waste of time! i recall my rotc days when we were made to bask under the sun, waiting for a north korean nuke to hit us, while we panic assembling our wooden rifles to counter the attack.

  2. It is difficult indeed to live in a place just a stone throw away from the crazy man IL. PM Abe had his baptism of fire with this incident. And most of the Japanese I talked to are indignant over the actions of NoKor’s kim. All wanted total sanctions. I’d say, dapat lang!

  3. The coming of the final battle. Condi “mushroom cloud” Rice likened the instability in the Middle East to the birth pangs of a New Middle East. Part of overall strategy of direct confrontation facing the so called Axis of Evil. The goal of changing the world by imposing democracy.

    Now one of the triad has responded to the challenge by raising the stakes of confrontation. Directly in the line of fire is off course South Korea. Indirectly in the line of fire is the People’s Republic of China. The mullahs of Iran will be watching what the U.S. will do. Bush’s rhetoric forced the North Koreans to highten the level of confrontation.

    Now Dick “mad dog” Cheney and Donald “stuff happens Rumsfeld have a golden opportunity to put into play probable scenarios for attacking North Korea with a massive show of shock and awe U.S. power write finish to the Korean war. Mathematical models are already being prepared as to how many S. Koreans will die. So far in the number of Iraqis and Afghans killed is anywhere between 30,000 to 100000. Most of Iraq is in ruins.

    The U.S. and Japan will not allow any further advances of the delivery systems of the N. Korean military machine now that they have exposed that they do have atomic devices. Both N. Korea and China still do not have delivery systems to hit the U.S. mainland. The main U.S. defense posture ‘forward fire bases’ still hold.

    Japan is a country that spends over $50 billion on military expenditures per year. Number three in the world. Half of our formal economy. It appears that the remnants of the Cold War might turn hot in the Korean peninsula.

    There are already economic projections in how much it will cost for the unification of the Korean peninsula after certain scenarios play out. One appeared on the Bloomberg website.

    In the First Russo Japanese war the U.S. sided with Russia vs. Japan. Then the U.S. sided with China vs. Japan (Korea) was still a Japanese colony. Now the U.S. and Japan are on the same side and will probably challenge China and Russia for supremacy in Northern Asia. Almost all the early military officers who ruled S. Korea were formerly in the Japanese military.

    There are serious disputes arising between Russia and Japan over the huge energy projects in Sakhalin. The new Prime Minister of Japan is fiercely patriotic and believes that the Japanese military did no wrong during the Second World War. They did what they did for the glory of the country.

    Maybe we Filipinos should start re-learning Japanese for what looks like the re-emergence of the Rising Sun.

    Please also note that there will be employment opportunities for the outsourcing of war for some of the developing economies of the world. During the British Empire the Brits used the Irish, Scots, Welsh, Punjabis, Tamils and Gurkhas as part of their armed forces all over the world. The U.S. has expanded the use of private contrators to put more boots on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan from Central Europe, Balkans and Latin America. Part of the multinational quick reaction force that Rumsfeld had planned for directly under the Empire.. There will employment opportunites also for Filipino men. The new division of labor in war is the U.S. handles the sanitized high tech warfare while the grunts on the ground will all be non-Americans as it is cost effective and efficient.

    Banzai! Banzai! Banzai!

  4. Sounds to me that if Cheney and Rumsfeld do unilaterally go ahead with another display of ‘shock and awe’ this time in the Korean peninsula, it will be more logical for the South Koreans to fight on the side of their Northern counterparts.

  5. North Korea isnt allowed to have a nuke because…?

    If the US, UK, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, France, and Israel can have them, why can’t they? Why can’t Iran? Is the Philippines allowed to have nukes?

  6. hvrds,

    Tough times ahead. Putting you on the spot, given the situation, what do you see should be top five priorities/directives for the country?

  7. Jeg, North Korea isn’t allowed to have nukes because its leader is a madman who only understands the language of force -sort of like George W. Bush.

  8. That is sort of my point, cvj. I sense a bit of hypocrisy and double standard here. Dont get me wrong–North Korea’s leader is an unpredictable little bugger who shouldnt have nukes. But how sure are we that sometime in the future, those other 8 members of the nuke club dont elect an unpredicatble little bugger as their leader?

  9. mlq3,

    re arms race

    “The insanity of nuclear killing machines is making us realize that World War III (with possibly 5 million fatalities) may bring about the end of all people on this planet. It is the plea of PlanetHood that we end the arms race—not the human race.”

    “Step One requires us to assert our ultimate human right to live with dignity in a healthy environment free from the threat of war.”

    http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/0000/1991_ferencz_planethood.htm

    One Voice for Peace

  10. I read thru Belmont Club and I find it ironic that some American neocons accuse North Korea of faking a nuclear detonation. As if Kim Jong Il was just trying to grab attention when North Korea proudly and loudly announced to the world that it successfully carried out an underground nuclear explosion.

    On the other hand, Iraq denied it had nuclear weapons yet was invaded and occupied. To date, no weapons of mass destruction, nuclear or otherwise, have been found in Iraq. Iran denies it has any nuclear weapons program and states that it is carrying out nuclear enrichment only for peaceful purposes. Yet the American neocons go to great lengths to smear Iran and insist, without any evidence so far, that Iran is secretly building nuclear weapons.

    So North Korea insists it has nuclear weapons and the neocons don’t exactly believe them. While Iraq, which insisted it had no weapons of mass destruction, was bombed and ruined. Iran, which insists it is not building a nuclear bomb, is looked upon by America with hostility and deep suspicion.

    It seems that the real anxiety over North Korea’s nuclear weapons comes from Japan, South Korea and China. The American neocons are less alarmed. They are more concerned about an Islamic nuclear bomb in the Middle East. To my mind, it only shows where American priorities are focused. Oil and Israel are closer to American hearts and pocketbooks.

  11. George Bush and his bully boys talk the talk of being tough, but they do not walk the walk. Instead of dealing with the emerging atomic states – Pakistan, North Korea and Iran, the decision was made to wage a war of aggression in Iraq. We did not invade Iraq because Saddam had WMD, but because he did not. We did not invade Iraq because Saddam was a threat, but because he was not.

    pakistan already had nukes, and had allied itself with the US.

    Nokor, iran and Saddam were all pursuing the nuclear bomb.

  12. Jeg, i think proliferation in itself is a risk which the world has to nip in the bud. One more country getting nukes increases the risk of those nukes getting out of the system of controls managed by individual States and the international community, straight into the hands of rouge elements.

    I think this exposes the flaw in the Bush admin’s approach with its ongoing tirade about ‘Islamofascists’. There has been too much targeting specific ideologies as well as framing conflict in terms of a ‘Clash of Civilizations’. This has served as a distraction to the more low-key, but difficult tasks to be done in terms of coordination, negotiation and other logistics work needed to detect and prevent the possession and use of WMDs by whoever would want to do so. These potential users of WMDs could of course be Al Qaeda, but it can also be Apocalyptic christian cults as well as animal rights activists.

    As for the eight members of the nuclear club, i think what you fear has already come to pass.

  13. On the 15th of October is 44th anniversary of

    “14 Days in October: The Cuban Missile Crisis”

    “Nuclear catastrophe was hanging by a thread … and we weren’t counting days or hours, but minutes.”

    -Soviet General and Army Chief of Operations, Anatoly Gribkov

    An Overview of the Crisis
    http://library.thinkquest.org/11046/days/

  14. From De Quiros:

    “Have we become a country of nabitin?” the economist-friend asked over coffee. “Nabitin” means “left hanging.” It connotes murky indecision that spawns open-ended problems by shutting out solutions.

    His question had been sparked by a front-page report that Malacañang flipped-flopped on nursing students retaking leakage-marred exams. Labor Secretary Arturo Brion groused that the Palace left “the issue hanging unresolved” by dumping the scam on the courts, the story said. The President has ample powers to meet the issue head on.

    “It usually takes the Court of Appeals years to resolve a case,” Brion said. He should know, being a former Court of Appeals justice, respected for racking up a zero backlog of cases. Another name for executive impotence is nabitin.

    And this administration likes to talk about having the “political will”…

    Heh. If raising our taxes was the right thing to do, then Arroyo should have had the “political will” to raise our taxes even before the 2004 elections (or at least campaigned for it, which she did not).

    http://www.inq7.net/nat/2004/jul/26/nat_1-1.htm

    july 25, 2004

    EVEN before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo could present her new tax measures, senators from both the administration and opposition camps are already against the imposition of new taxes.

    “Isn’t this a bit sneaky? Why? Because the President never mentioned her plan to impose a new round of taxes during her campaign. On the contrary, she deliberately avoided them. We are hearing them for the first time,” Senator Joker Arroyo said.

    “The President cannot claim that her election is an endorsement of her tax proposals.”

    Political will my ass.

  15. Right off the bat, I believe North Korea is afraid of it closest border neigbour: the combined military power of US-South Korea and fears that if things are to go to a head, South Korea would attack and backed by the US. In order to head it off, what is NOKOR’s option? Build the nuke which becomes an automatic deterrence against a potential attack. With that in mind, NOKOR might be telling herself that those countries that might be thinking of overrunning her would think twice before doing anything because of her nuclear capablities. Her enemies will be hard put to launch an attack on her soil knowing that she can retaliate and what good would that do?

    In my opinion, the real danger we face today is not a direct threat from North Korea but more from terrorists, fanatics, fundamentalist groups outside the nation state who are prepared to run an assymettric warfare (just like what’s happening in Baghdad, Kabul, Palestine, elsewhere etc.) in order to get hold of THE BOMB (A or N) and use it against western civilization. And the real danger is that they may obtain this holocaustic weapon from people or officials coming from nuclear weapons possessing nations who have NO scruples about selling them to the most dangerous fanatic.

    To my mind, it is imperative for the world to engage nuclear possessing nations now in a constructive dialogue particularly those that are fundamentally not Christian, before we totally alienate the moderates in their midst – we should resolve the Iraq, Palestinian issues, generate economic sources that will provide food and roofs to the dispossessed (like the Muslims in Mindanao) before they breed more fanatics, and invest in needed social, educational infrastructures in countries like Afghanistan… (in parrallel to its military undertakings in Afghanistan, NATO through SACEUR has already embarked on an economic mission in Afghanistan by inviting Western industrialists to Kabul in the hope of attracting investors…)

    America must drop its “do or die” rhetoric. Europe and America must help re-construct IRAQ together, and the quicker the better…, America WILL NOT BE ABLE TO RE-CONSTRUCT IRAQ ON ITS OWN, so much bad blood has been shed on this quite unnecessary war.

    All Western leaders must start engaging brain and stop thinking with their muscles.

  16. ROTC?? MANDATORY??? VERYGOOD!!! VERY WISE!!! So, What’s next???
    “Hey, Norkor we have ROTC’s don’t thread on us!!!” seriously- This is just a total waste of time. Just like other stupid subjects in our schools. i still can’t remember my employer asking me anything about the life of rizal, i wish he would, i’d really love to show my expertise on the subject. How about agriculture? Who cares, i love programming…. Filipinos love to cling on the memories of the good ‘ol days and sadly most of these morons was employed by DECS. Change!!! Change!!! Change!!! If you want to bring back ROTC then maybe we could include wooden stealth bombers in our armaments.

  17. Abet, You ask armaments?

    Former Brig General Vic Corpuz, ex Chief, Tactical Training of the National People’s Army and erstwhile ISAFP chief to Gloria wrote a thesis that’s now been turned into a book called “The Invisible Army”.

    There, he details “armaments”.

  18. On the other hand, Carl, those Americans may turn out right. According to my friends in the media here, Kim and the NoKor may only be just bluffing although there indeed was something like a tremor felt near the borders. In other words, nananakot lang!

    Our PM Abe wants sanction. Most Japanese agree with him. Others, opposed though they may be, say nothing because the majority is against nuke testings, wars, etc.

  19. Nuclear arms race? In Asia. Let us start counting those already in the finish line by ranking: china, india, pakistan and now north korea. If we join the race, we’ll puffing and huffing, while the rest are already home with their medals and coveted prizes. maybe we’ll just concentrate on building better roads, clean and safe water supply, more power generators, and start gutting down those ugly billboards. Let the others join the race, we’re incapable of nuclear arms race.
    might explode at our faces. what with those 20% cut there and here, you can’t build a nuclear warhead with lots of schemming and percentage off the materials. scary thoughts…

  20. Vic’s “If we join the race, we’ll puffing and huffing, while the rest are already home with their medals and coveted prizes.”

    Hahahah!

  21. I dont want nuclear weapons. But I was thinking what we are going to do? Just wait for our neigbhors to blow us away??? just watch our neigbors beaming with their medals? When our we going keep up with our neighbers, not with nuclear weapons of course but anything that can keep us at par with them?

  22. rego… On the threat of nuclear detonation on Philippine soil, the men of the CBCP have the answer for you. On you knees, rego, and pray the rosary. As for keeping up with our neighbors to keep us at par with them, the men of the CBCP have no idea.

  23. The little Korean’s only mistake is he’s on the wrong side of the fence.

    Israel can get away with it. Pakistan was a pariah until Musharraf joined Bush’s waar on terror. Now he and Bush are kissy face and he gets to keep his bombs plus a few hundred millions in foreign aid.

    So my advice to the little Korean? Tell Bush you hate muslims. You built the bomb to drop it on Iraq and Syria and you think the occupation of Palestine is kosher.

  24. Hehehhe!

    That was funny Manuel!

    Anyway, as it is, we almost are left with no other bargaining chip but to “reward” the little N Korean with economic aid… unless of course we adopt the 180° turn scenario: Starve the poor NKorean children and the rest of the population to death in the hope that the little N Korean guy gets scared. But that would be really MEAN.

  25. rego, in these matters, the Iraqi insurgents and Hezbollah have shown the way. We don’t have to keep up with our more advanced neighbors in terms of advanced weaponry. We just have to practice asymmetric warfare – acquire the right weapons for an insurgency (IED’s, rocket launchers) and be ruthless enough (with kidnappings, beheadings, roadside bombings both against the enemy and their local collaborators). We should also develop a network of informants. If we really want to, instead of developing our own nuclear capability, we can try to purchase a nuclear weapon from the black market (possibly North Korea or Pakistan) for possible use on the cities of whoever invaded us. I don’t know if we have what it takes to carry out these actions if and when the time comes, but those in charge of our National Defense should investigate the feasibility of these measures.

  26. North Korea is likened to a little boy who because he could not get any loving attention from Mommy, threatened to blow up the whole house. Mommy still would not give what he wanted, so little boy lit up his little firecracker and burned his fingers instead. Mommy said, “that’s it?” and heaved a sigh of relief.

    The U. S. was wary of North Korea only because of No.Korea’s close ties with Iran. Il had helped Iran with its nuclear capabilities and will do so in the future. Carl, you’re right. U.S. priorities are on the Middle East. What do they care about a teeny weeny starving country like North Korea?

  27. history note… the Philippines was among the first to be a member of the nuclear family. Wasn’t there a nuclear research facility in Diliman?
    South Africa got a lot further along in its nuclear program activities (Brazil, too, I believe), so they had a lot more physical assets to disband upon putting their signatures to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

    elinca… look at the map. notice where japan is? plus south korea? there is a group of islands called the philippines, too,… damn poor, too. Except for sea lanes to transport oil to Japan, that country with 7,000 plus islands has little strategic value to the US,

  28. I am an American citizen and just worried about all these virulent attacks against the U.S. Being the world’s superpower of course the U.S. should expect it. It will always be, “damn if you do, and damn if you don’t”.

    Like every nation in the world, the U.S. first goal is self-preservation. And it always should be.

  29. UP stud, Let me put it this way: Would you rather see China, with its reputation for human rights abuses, be the world’s superpower instead of the U.S.? The U.S. has its flaws, some glaring, but at least it tries to adhere as closely as possible to the principles of democracy.

  30. mlq3,

    The report to link “The Philippine government is” (also upset) does not seem to contain any pronouncement by the Philippine government regarding NKorea blast save for a US geologist announcing the blast impact to AFP but I take this to be Agence France Presse and not the Armed Forces.

    Manila Times could have forgotten to include RP Gov’s “upset” pronouncement.

  31. elinca, good intentions are not enough. Iraq is now a broken country because of America’s desire to export democracy.

  32. elinca said…

    “What do they care about a teeny weeny starving country like North Korea?”

    remember, korea is one of the most prolific exporters of all kinds of weapons to terrorists, AK 47, missiles, bombs, “brains”, you name it, they export it to terrorists. a teeny weeny nuclear bomb will attract all kinds of crazy people.

  33. We can’t have nuclear armamments because our Charter says so.

    Well that is one issue the Charter Change proponents want to change. They want to take out that provision, so not only can we have them but it would be legit for nuclear armed vessels of foreign powers to bring them here.

  34. I am glad Cloony and Nicole’s pics are just like that, movies. I’m also thankful that i am away from ny, la, etc which might be the most likely targets for those with unusual back packs.

  35. cvj says “it will be more logical for the South Koreans to fight on the side of their Northern counterparts.”

    if they did that, think of what might happen to hyundai in America?

  36. tbl, you’re right. North Korea is helping most notably Iran with nuclear weapons, and how more dangerous can it be with a fanatic and crazy leader at the helm.

    cvj, probably another reason (though not obvious) for invading Iraq was to keep a closer eye on Iraq’s neighbor -Iran. With the U.S. foothold on Iraq, heck, just a couple of bombs will obliterate Iran just as soon as Iran make good on its promise: “Death to the U.S. Death to Satan!”

    And yes, America and its allies won’t stop until the rest of the world marches to its drumbeat -democracy, democracy, democracy.

    Until someone invents a more perfect system of government, democracy it is.

    Just as one writer puts it, western-style democracy ?

    “it’s the only game in town.”

  37. Justice league says, “They want to take out that provision, so not only can we have them but it would be legit for nuclear armed vessels of foreign powers to bring them here. ”

    For all we know, it’s already happening – nuclear armed vessels being brought to Pinas or to its waters – esepcially when CINPAC is around. (I suppose underwater vessels don’t really count coz Pinas can’t see them although down South in the waters leading to the Gulf, there just could be a couple of those underwater nuclear armed vessels plying the route regularly.)

  38. elinca, tbl, once Americans treat the loss of non-American lives in a less cavalier fashion, maybe some of that virulent hatred against America would subside. it sickens me whenever Americans get all weepy when 9/11 is mentioned, but think nothing of nuking another country. To impose democracy at the barrel of a gun is to misunderstand its essence.

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