South Korea’s air force has been dropping balloons with leaflets into North Korea describing the struggle to oust Moammar Kadafi in Libya and calling on the North Koreans to rise up against their oppressors.
This is a ridiculous exercise for the obvious reason that Libya is split by countless tribal and regional divisions. By contrast, North Korea is ethnically homogeneous and strongly united by a nationalist heritage deeply rooted in the struggles against the Japanese colonial occupation and three years of U.S. saturation bombing during the Korean War.
More important, the South Korean leaflet barrage illustrates the utter ignorance of the conservative ruling party in the South concerning the nationalist ethos of North Korea, and thus explains why the current hard-line U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
When President Obama hosts the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, in Washington later this month, North Korea is certain to be high on the agenda. But as in the past, Beijing is likely to use its leverage with Pyongyang only if a major war threatens.
Two standard explanations are generally offered to explain why China is reluctant to put pressure on North Korea, whether the issue is nuclear weapons, the sinking of a South Korean Navy vessel, or the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island: China’s fear of instability if North Korea implodes, with the resulting massive flow of refugees across its borders, and China’s appetite for North Korea’s vast reserves of iron ore, magnesite, copper and other minerals.… Seguir leyendo »
The crisis in the Yellow Sea, which was set off by the North Korean shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island last month, is probably mystifying to many Americans. Why did the North fire a deadly artillery barrage at a sparsely inhabited, relatively insignificant island? Why has the United States dispatched an entire aircraft-carrier group to the scene?
But things make more sense if you look at recent events as merely the latest in a decades-long series of naval clashes between the two Koreas resulting from a disputed sea boundary that was hastily imposed by the United Nations forces — without North Korean agreement — after the 1953 armistice that halted the Korean War.… Seguir leyendo »
While the world focuses on the flood-ravaged Indus River valley, a quiet geopolitical crisis is unfolding in the Himalayan borderlands of northern Pakistan, where Islamabad is handing over de facto control of the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region in the northwest corner of disputed Kashmir to China.
The entire Pakistan-occupied western portion of Kashmir stretching from Gilgit in the north to Azad (Free) Kashmir in the south is closed to the world, in contrast to the media access that India permits in the eastern part, where it is combating a Pakistan-backed insurgency. But reports from a variety of foreign intelligence sources, Pakistani journalists and Pakistani human rights workers reveal two important new developments in Gilgit-Baltistan: a simmering rebellion against Pakistani rule and the influx of an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army.… Seguir leyendo »
As the debate intensifies within the Obama administration over how to stabilize Afghanistan, one major problem is conspicuously missing from the discussion: the growing alienation of the country’s largest ethnic group, the Pashtun tribes, who make up an estimated 42 percent of the population of 33 million. One of the basic reasons many Pashtuns support the Taliban insurgency is that their historic rivals, ethnic Tajiks, hold most of the key levers of power in the government.
Tajiks constitute only about 24 percent of the population, yet they largely control the armed forces and the intelligence and secret police agencies that loom over the daily lives of the Pashtuns.… Seguir leyendo »
To American eyes the struggle raging in Pakistan with the Taliban is about religious fanaticism. But in Pakistan it is about an explosive fusion of Islamist zeal and simmering ethnic tensions that have been exacerbated by U.S. pressures for military action against the Taliban and its al-Qaeda allies. Understanding the ethnic dimension of the conflict is the key to a successful strategy for separating the Taliban from al-Qaeda and stabilizing multiethnic Pakistan politically.
The Pakistani army is composed mostly of Punjabis. The Taliban is entirely Pashtun. For centuries, Pashtuns living in the mountainous borderlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan have fought to keep out invading Punjabi plainsmen.… Seguir leyendo »
Will North Korea ever give up its nuclear weapons?
To test its intentions, I submitted a detailed proposal to Foreign Ministry nuclear negotiator Li Gun for a «grand bargain» in advance of a visit to Pyongyang last month. North Korea, I suggested, would surrender to the International Atomic Energy Agency the 68 pounds of plutonium it has already declared in denuclearization negotiations. In return, the United States would conclude a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War, normalize diplomatic and economic relations, put food and energy aid on a long-term basis, and support large-scale multilateral credits for rehabilitation of North Korea’s economic infrastructure.… Seguir leyendo »