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  • Guest Blogger Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA): You Sunk My Battleship


    Will North Korea’s Kim Jong-il get away with murder?  That’s a question Koreans, and many in the region, are asking a month and a half after a South Korean naval vessel was sunk, killing 46.

    An investigation, assisted by U.S. naval intelligence, and other international partners, is still ongoing.  Yet it’s all but certain that the Cheonan was torpedoed, an act of war.  While North Korean motives (escalation for aid? Kim Jong-il consolidating his power base? rogue captain?) remain the subject of debate, the destruction is clear.

    What to do?  To read the press, the conventional wisdom is that South Korea would not dare retaliate, for fear of sparking a wider war and that any effort to take the issue to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions would meet China’s veto (Beijing just hosted Kim Jong-il on a state visit).  Some see the most likely scenario as the status quo – public condemnation, Beijing continuing to enable Pyongyang with aid and Washington happy not to rock the boat.  Watching the State Department spokesman dance around this issue, it’s pretty clear that Foggy Bottom wouldn’t be too bothered if the investigation was permanently “ongoing.”

    But is this really a choice between war and nothing?  Far from it.  The U.S. and our ally in Seoul can still call some shots of our own.  Standing up to North Korean aggression could mean:

    C1.  Make Beijing veto.  Seoul has been working its way through a methodical investigation.  Once the evidence is compiled, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak could present the evidence – Adlai Stevenson-style – to the U.N. Security Council and ask for an embargo on conventional arms sales to North Korea and other measures.  Make Beijing show the world where it stands.

    D3.  Pull the plug on Kaesong. A joint North-South Korean industrial park that sits just beyond the DMZ in North Korea could be shuttered.  As part of the previous South Korean government’s “sunshine policy” of engagement with North Korea, the park gives South Korean companies access to cheap North Korean labor.  It has provided the North Korean regime with needed hard currency.  (Hint – it doesn’t go to the workers.)  Time for South Korea to vacate this ill-conceived experiment.

    A2.  Show of force.  Increase combined U.S. and South Korean naval and other military exercises in the region.  Identify South Korean defense needs and fast-track weapons sales.

    B8.  Settle Japanese basing issue for U.S. troops.  The ongoing dispute over the relocation of U.S. Marines on Okinawa should be quickly settled.  This isn’t just an issue for the U.S. and Japan.  It has regional implications.  U.S. troops stationed in Japan provide breathing space for others in the region, including South Korea, which has been alarmed by the dispute.

    B7.  Regional security conference.  President Obama should invite democratically elected regional leaders to a conference to discuss security issues in Asia.  Host it in Hawaii, the headquarters of U.S. Pacific Command.

    B6.  Pass KORUS. The President should submit and the Congress should pass the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement.  Besides considerable economic benefits, the agreement is a strategic winner, demonstrating that there will be no retreat by the U.S. from Northeast Asia.

    B5.  Target Pyongyang’s Illicit Activities. The Unites States used to use law enforcement to aggressively target North Korea illicit activities – counterfeiting U.S. currency, drug-running, counterfeit cigarettes and pharmaceuticals – until diplomacy gutted those efforts.  The effort should be reinvigorated.

    Truth be told, all these steps, some having greater impact than others, should be taken.  Showing resolve in the face of North Korean aggression, not ignoring 46 deaths, will strengthen deterrence.  Unaddressed, North Korea’s attack would only convince others, like Iran, that a nuclear weapons deterrent would give them carte blanche to cause havoc in their region and beyond.

    The Obama Administration likes to tout the U.S. as a “Pacific power.”  Act like one.

    Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  He also writes a blog, Foreign Intrigue, on national security issues.

    The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to Guest Blogger Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA): You Sunk My Battleship

    1. Linda Shiebler, TN says:

      Thank you for outlining specific actions to assist this region and increase overall security. It is a refreshing and uplifting read as compared to the innocuous verbal smoke screens and childish discourse we are fed on major networks.

    2. Ben C. Ann Arbor, MI says:

      Oh come on now – a bow, a hug, a handshake and N. Korea will realize their evil ways and change. Right?

    3. Spiritof76, NH says:

      Are you kidding?

      Obama administration with the full consent of the Commander in Chief will blame S.Korea for being on the water provoking the N. Korea. They have always sided with the terrorists, disctators and thugs. They have clearly made it a point to huniliate our allies- G. Britain, Israel and Afghanistan.

      When are we going to realize that Obama has real animus against the west? To quote from his book-"White man's greed drive world in need".

    4. Diane Watson, CA and says:

      Thank you Ed, for representing my district in Fullerton. Common sense and specifics are refreshing from a politician.

    5. Lynn Bryant DeSpain says:

      When our new Congress convenes in 2011, I hope they have the guts to use their Constitutional authority, I believe it is Article 8, section 2, and enact the right of Reprisal.

      America can no longer afford to be seen by the World as a land of Whimps, and Diplomats, who stand by and do nothing but talk. We once again must become the leader of action, both in defence and economy and invention.

    6. Gretchen, Washington says:

      This was a really clever, well-written piece. Thank you for providing us with a suggested road map on how to address North Korea. You are clearly educated on this issue, and understand that a country like North Korea – which has no fundamental understanding of human rights (not even for its own people) will have no problem continuing to be aggressive in the region.

    7. Wayne Guidotti South says:

      If this act by N.K. goes unpunished it shows how things are being delt with. Its like getting slaped in the face and then walking away instead of doing something. It does go to show(like Ed Royce stated) that if we are a pacific power, then F*** act like one right?

    8. Polly Walker says:

      The content of the blog entry isn't bad. A bare-bones but helpful overview of some of South Korea's options in this volatile situation.

      But the use of the Battleship game tag, imagery and numbers is in truly poor taste. And it's coming from a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee? Wow.

      Some might tell me to lighten up, but this is a tragic and nervewracking situation in South Korea, one in which a great many seamen have died, and one that has ordinary people fearing war. I expected better from a Republican politician who probably would not show such disrespect for his own country's military.

    9. Polly Walker says:

      One more thing. I could send this blog link to some Korean journalists, but that would cause more misunderstanding and sensationalistic retorts than anything else.

      But I must say, as someone from South Korea, I'm disappointed and a little saddened by Mr. Royce.

    10. Polly Walker says:

      Several hours ago I wrote a critical but what I thought was a relatively civil comment about this blog entry, but I see it hasn't been approved.

      Is it that you haven't gotten around to approving it yet, or is it because my comments were critical of an elder statesman of the Republican Party?

      I certainly hope it is the latter reason. And while it is in your right to censor, I hope this is a site that allows divergent points of view to be aired, despite that the site itself is politically conservative.

      Given that you use the Liberty Bell as your symbol, you owe your readers that much, no? :)

    11. dave, dayton says:

      Well written, and for a Congressman, well thought out for a change. OB ain't gonna do anything to rock the boat. (Pardon the pun) I honestly think this guy would have us begging Iran not to nuke our A—-. I am so fed up with OB and the liberals in Congress I don't even want to hear what stupid idea the've come up with next. I can't wait until NOV, if we don't wash them out of office, God help us as a nation.

    12. Peggy, Los Angeles says:

      Very impressed with this blog. I am Korean and I really appreciate his perspective and his use of the battleship. Very clever!

    13. Young Soo Kim, NY says:

      As a Korean American, I love Ed Royce!

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