Are the U.S./S.Korea fabricating a story about North Korea attacking the Cheonan?
On March 26, 2010, forty-six South Korean sailors were killed in an explosion that sank the Cheonan, a South Korean Pohang-class corvette of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN). The ship’s primary mission was coastal patrol, with an emphasis on anti-submarine operations. An international team of investigators, which excludes both China and Russia, have concluded that the fragments of the torpedo which sank the Cheonan is North Korean.
Within hours of the sinking, accusations were flying suspecting North Korean foul-play, and days later, upon an opaque investigation of the debris, it was confirmed by US, Japan and ROK agencies that indeed a North Korean torpedo had sunk the Cheonan, but no independent source, including China and Russia were able to examine the debris. One question, however, loomed large– why would North Korea (DPRK) attack a South Korean naval ship in South Korean waters?
There are a couple of well-documented articles challenging the sinking of the Cheonan. One is from the Asia Times (May 5, 2010); and another which DMZ Hawaii linked to, is from the Asia-Pacific Journal: “Who Sank the South Korean Warship Cheonan? A New Stage in the US-Korean War and US-China Relations“.
In addition, another theory that has not yet been addressed, but is referred to in the Asia-Pacific Journal and is beginning to gain traction in both the Korean and Japanese press is that Cheonan was struck by a collision with the USS Columbia, a 688 class nuclear powered fast-attack submarine. This was first publicly reported by one of the South Korean rescue divers who asserted that a US submarine had indeed been damaged and whose testimony has since been hushed by the conservative South Korean President Lee Myung Ba. President Lee has only just recently toned down his belligerent rhetoric and discounted the possibility of war on the Korean Peninsula.
Of the many references that indicate that North Korea could not have provoked this incident, these following four points from the Asia News article should be enough to cast doubts on this accusation and suggest other theories.
Fact 1.North Korean submarines are not stealthy enough to penetrate heavily guarded South Korean waters at night and remain undetected by the highly touted anti-submarine warfare units of the American and South Korean forces. A North Korean submarine would be unable to outmaneuver an awesome array of high-tech Aegis warships, identify the corvette Cheonan and then slice it in two with a torpedo before escaping unscathed, leaving no trace of its identity.
Fact 2. The sinking took place not in North Korean waters but well inside tightly guarded South Korean waters, where a slow-moving North Korean submarine would have great difficulty operating covertly and safely, unless it was equipped with AIP (air-independent propulsion) technology
Fact 3: The disaster took place precisely in the waters where what the Pentagon has called “one of the world’s largest simulated exercises” was underway. This war exercise, known as “Key Resolve/Foal Eagle” did not end on March 18 as was reported but actually ran from March 18 to April 30.
Fact 4: The Key Resolve/Foal Eagle exercise on the West Sea near the Northern Limit Line (NLL) was aimed at keeping a more watchful eye on North Korea as well as training for the destruction of weapons of mass destruction in the North. It involved scores of shiny, ultra-modern US and South Korean warships equipped with the latest technology.
Other questions posed on Korean websites like this and this, ask why survivors of the Cheonan are being quarantined and not allowed to speak; or why has the US given money to the widow of the Korean rescue man who apparently, but undisclosedly, saved the lives of the men aboard the USS Columbia (SSN771).
One other factor that none of the sites covering the sinking of the Cheonan mentions, is why the governments of South Korea, Japan and the U.S. are aligned and cooperating with this scenario.
Consider Rajin-Sonbong (Rason)
North Korea, China and Russia share borders and are separated by the Tumen river. The waters near Najin and Rajin in the East Sea or Sea of Japan, is an ideal waterway for the development of a state-of-the-art port. The waters near Najin are deep and do not freeze, directional currents allow for ships to move resources down towards the manufacturing corridor along the Eastern China Sea more quickly than with rail. This port development gives the DPRK trade opportunities that could potentially help lift North Korea from poverty, a result of imposed economic sanctions.
China who had previously signed a lease agreement with North Korea, receives a huge advantage for furthering its manufacturing base, and is renewing its contract over the 1st port at Najin for another 10 years. As China watchers have pointed out, this agreement gives China access to the East Sea for the first time in over a hundred years and this has also given rise to unfounded concerns that China might use this base for military purposes.
When one considers the massive military build-up in Guam and elsewhere in the Pacific as reported on the DMZ website; and that U.S. forces in South Korea are relocating from north of metropolitan Seoul to the south of Seoul at the bay in Pyongtaek, as well as strengthening the south-eastern region that adjoins the East Sea; and that Japanese Prime minister Yukio Hatoyama had resigned after failing to honor his election promise of closing down the U.S. military base in Okinawa, it is conceivable to consider that the U.S. and its allies are preparing a potential staging area for asserting continued economic dominance in the region.
A scenario worth posing suggests that this crisis, if indeed fabricated, may be an attempt by the U.S. alliance to control the traffic of cargo ships arriving from Rajin to China’s south-east manufacturing corridor. By establishing a motive for controlling the South Korean and Japanese waters in the East Sea, China will in effect be forced into publicly compromising any position it may have with North Korea or the west, which will likely interrupt its commercial opportunities, internationally.
The sinking of the Cheonan reminds us of an unfortunate string of other ships that had been sacrificed in order to rally support for war: the Maine, which initiated the Spanish-American War; the sinking of the Lusitania, which led us to our involvement in the Great War; the bombing of Pearl Harbor which thrust us into WWII; and Gulf of Tonkin Incident which garnered citizen support for our engagement with Vietnam: the controversies surrounding the sinking of these ships are all fraught with evidence that our participation in these wars may have been, in part, manufactured.
Why would we want to go to war with North Korea?
I don’t think we would, but consider what Rajin represents to China.
Last October, Russia and China signed a historic trade agreement which will give China the resources it needs further develop its manufacturing base while giving Russia a huge economic boost for its resources. What makes this deal historic, however, is that this trade deal will occur within BRICS agreement, between the ruble and the yuan, the national currencies of the historically communist countries Russia and China.
Since 1945, one could argue that deep changes in economic policy among the “cooperative” states occurred during moments when the capitalist system had exhausted the current assets and resources of each period as it was threatened by economic recession. For the U.S., these economic and political policy changes included shifts like the Employment Act of 1946, the Marshall Plan, the 1949 GATT treaties, our removal from the Gold Standard in 1971, the liberalization of industries and the rise of Free-Market economics as advanced by Milton Friedman during Reagan, the WTO agreements under Clinton, the massive deregulation of banking, derivatives, and other consolidated utility industries as advanced in international markets under Bush. Is it possible that the seemingly unending growth of capitalism and its resulting manipulations of markets and currencies have finally exhausted itself?
And now we find ourselves at a crossroads.
Do we finally admit the potential failure of U.S. style free-market capitalism or do we continue to punish the world with a refusal to let an unregulated free-market subside? Do we continue to assert policy as a game to win or as a series of compromising negotiations that allow for the mutual benefit of all?
The sinking of Cheonan represents this crossroad. As the Pacific military theater advances with efforts for its continued policy of destabilizing regions for the sole purpose of preventing a union between a revitalized China and Russia (Brazil, India, South Africa), we may never know that the logic of historical materialism towards economic reform in a 21st-century global economy may be the only way we can successfully coexist with the planet, its peoples and its resources.