- Politics and Social Issues
Korea, the world stands on the brink of war
38th Parallel, the DMZ
What is the deal with the north?
It is amazing how people tend to forget their past, the history of the country, the history of their religion, the history of their culture.
It is Thanksgiving, and we are celebrating a beautiful holiday here in the United States. A day where we are supposed to thank G-d for the blessings, however people tend to focus on the meal, and I hear all the time people refer to this holiday for thanking the Almighty for the provision that has been given to us as “Turkey day”, as if the turkey matters. The turkey is only a symbol of the holiday, since it shows great provision. There is no proof that the first thanksgivings even had Turkeys at them. The point is that people tend to forget.
That forgetfulness is with most holidays, but it is with the history or why things happen. Why do I believe the way I belief, why is my religion my religion, why is my political views my political views. This is all about history. The history cannot be forgotten, or we will have problems as the says goes “he who forgets history is doomed to repeat it”
America needs to wake up. Just a few days ago North Korea attacked a South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. This is after a rise of problems that North Korea has been provoking against South Korea. Where in March a South Korean navy ship sank off Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, near the border with North Korea, and this is believed to be caused by North Korea even though they deny it. Then we have the problem with North Korea firing rockets around the 4th of July over the northern coasts of Japan.
This is a repeat of history. The Korean War never ended because terms were never resolved and to this day there is a line in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the room where they tried to negotiate the end of the war. I have stood in this room on the Northern side, the only little piece of North Korea that most people would ever be able to set foot on. The tensions between both countries are great and have been since the cease fire, and during this time there have been many skirmishes.
One might ask why does this matter? What concern is there for me? To answer this question we must address several factors. The following history will help:
1) At the end of World War II, the Japanese signed a new constitution that was written by General Douglas MacArthur, one of the greatest Generals the United States ever had, and one I have great respect for his military history. The result was that Japan can only have an internal military force which is more like police, without the ability to strike out against other countries.
2) Two super powers emerged after World War II which was the United States of America and the Soviet Union. Over several decades a cold war ensued.
3) Communism was spread across the globe. It took root in China, and china backed factions of communist in the peninsula of Korea, which was also backed by the Soviet Union.
4) The communist tried to take over the country and a basically a civil war begin, this was in the 50’s. The north had made it down to the bottom of the peninsula may National Guards men from the United States were sent in to battle.
5) A horrible war, with many causalities, gave rise to many battlefield technologies like the use of helicopters to evacuate the wounded. (This is shown through the TV series M.A.S.H, which stands for Medical Army Surgical Hospital). This war is often called the forgotten war, and the land by American veterans is referred to as the land that G-d forgot.
6) After many dead, cold unforgiving winters final there was a cease fire, and over several years the two parts of Korea, two actual countries have been at a standstill.
So what is the problem? The problem is possible escalation. The United States backs the South Korea Army. South Korea is a major manufacturer of products for the United States. South Korea, Japan and the United States are linked economical and socially in many ways. North Korea is back by China, and China has bought up a lot of American debt with a move to owe the United States as it develops its war machine. North Korea now has nuclear technology and is working on a way to deliver it to whomever they want. There is also a shift in power from one dictator to his son. This escalation can lead to a great war and at this point, America is weakened by debt, recession, unemployment, and depletion of troops and equipment since we have been waging a global war on Terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. The problem is if the Korean conflict escalates again it would make Afghanistan and Iraq look like a Boy Scout Jamboree.
Then again maybe, I am just over thinking it as I reflect on my family history and my history with Korea. I am told of my grandfathers actions as he was cut off from his unit in the Korean war and he ran across an abandoned baby and how he saved the child’s life, or by the time when he had to hide in bushes as a squad of North Koreans came by and he had to keep completely silent so that he could survive. I am told of how he has mustard stains on his airborne wings since he was a Ranger at that time and when someone jumps into combat he gets a yellow leaf for the jump wings which is referred to as a mustard stain.
Then I remember my father’s story, about how North Korea started provocations against the south around 1976, when my father was assigned on the Aircraft Carrier the USS Midway. My father said that the USS Midway was spinning doughnuts off the coast, and the Japanese called President Carter the spineless wonder. Then I pause and think, that my dad’s story or is that the current story. The USS George Washington is spinning doughnuts off the coast of Korea, and I am sure that the Japanese are calling President Obama something like the spineless wonder, since he is just repeating the situation that was Carters, all because he is weak. This situation could have been contained if he would have done something when the ship was sunk back in March, or when North Korea launched a rocket over the coast of Japan.
Then there is my history. A year of my life when I was nineteen, and I arrived in South Korea in the freezing cold winter, rain all summer long, ten mile runs on the hillside with flack vests in boots in formation. Patrolling close to the DMZ, and freezing on top of hills, but if they were lucky at least their feet would be warm with what the soldier calls Mickey Mouse boots (Boots that are extremely warm) Days in the rain soaked to the bone, and it was freezing cold when I left. Each service man counts down the days that they will leave South Korea because of the harsh conditions and hardship separation from their families, and if conflict arises in another part of the world then they get locked down and cannot leave Korea for several months past their one year in Korea.
Each time I look at my medals, the one that seems to be the most significant is my KSDM (Korea Service Defense Medal), for service as an Infantryman. I see my connection with my father and my material grandfather by marriage. I remember the history of conflict, and the hopes to the end of the conflict that seemed so bright when both Koreas shared one Olympic team in the 2000 Olympics. Maybe most people cannot see what I see, but I am concerned for how close we are at the verge of massive war and how a few wrong moves can push us in the wrong direction.
So I ask, do you feel safe with this current administration of ours? The solution is simple elect politicians that understand the military and the threat of dictators and tyrants in the world, so that we can be prepared, and protected. However, at this point since elections are two years off, we need to speak to those in power and we need to pray for those that will bear the burden, lets pray for our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen and thank G-d for them standing a post for us on this Thanksgiving day.