Neverending Northward Naïveté?

13 12 2010

Selig S. Harrison and John H Cushman propose a way to ameliorate the tense situation caused by the recent North Korean shelling of the South Korean Yeonpyeong Island in this interesting NY Times Op-Ed, “Drawing a Line in the Water.” Their proposal is just as the title says, recharting the aquatic territories between the two Koreas. Here they propose:

…. the solution could be quite straightforward: the United States should redraw the disputed sea boundary, called the Northern Limit Line, moving it slightly to the south.

The Northern Limit Line was so named because it was meant to impose a limit on any potential South Korean encroachment into North Korea. The South’s president, Syngman Rhee, still dreamed of winning the war — he refused to sign the armistice — and repeatedly vowed to overthrow the Pyongyang regime.

Rhee’s hopes were never realized, but one thing the Northern Limit Line did was to give the best fishing grounds in the area to South Korea. It’s no coincidence that many of the clashes there have occurred during the summer crab-fishing season. If the boundary were refashioned in a more equitable way, tensions would undoubtedly ease.

And, fortunately, President Obama has the authority to redraw the line. On July 7, 1950, a United Nations Security Council resolution established the United Nations Command for Korea and designated the United States as the executive agent, with authority to name its commander. That original command is still with us today in vestigial form. It is commanded by Gen. Walter Sharp, who is thus the current successor to Gen. Mark Clark, who signed the 1953 armistice.

This seems like a very strategic and well thought out plan, at least from the perspective of a tyro, but the confidence that it will “undoubtedly” bring peace and stability to the peninsula seems more than a little naive. If this was merely a territorial or economic dispute, of course this proposal would be spot on, but it is not. It is, in the least, a clash of ideologies. One of which is quite misunderstood from the Western perspective.

I do not have an alternative solution. Again, I’m a neophyte of the whole political, diplomatic arena. But I do know ethics and satiating the immature desires of a young child does not teach it boundaries or discipline. I am not so sure the phrase ‘equitable way’ is in the vocabulary of the North.




One response

13 12 2010

haha, i like ur commentary!

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