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Subject: Cheonan: The other side of the story...
DarthAmerica    7/29/2010 6:04:12 AM
BEIJING - South Korean Prime Minister Lee Myung-bak has claimed "overwhelming evidence" that a North Korean torpedo sank the corvette Cheonan on March 26, killing 46 sailors. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed that there’s "overwhelming evidence" in favor of the theory that North Korea sank the South Korean Navy warship Cheonan. But the articles of proof presented so far by military investigators to an official inquiry board have been scanty and inconsistent. There’s yet another possibility, that a U.S. rising mine sank the Cheonan in a friendly-fire accident. In the recent U.S.-China strategic talks in Shanghai and Beijing, the Chinese side dismissed the official scenario presented by the Americans and their South Korean allies as not credible. This conclusion was based on an independent technical assessment by the Chinese military, according to a Beijing-based military affairs consultant to the People Liberation Army. Hardly any of the relevant facts that counter the official verdict have made headline news in either South Korea or its senior ally, the United States. The first telltale sign of an official smokescreen involves the location of the Choenan sinking - Byeongnyeong Island (pronounced Pyongnang) in the Yellow Sea. On the westernmost fringe of South Korean territory, the island is dominated by a joint U.S.-Korean base for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations. The sea channel between Byeongnyeong and the North Korean coast is narrow enough for both sides to be in artillery range of each other. Anti-sub warfare is based on sonar and acoustic detection of underwater craft. Since civilian traffic is not routed through the channel, the noiseless conditions are near-perfect for picking up the slightest agitation, for example from a torpedo and any submarine that might fire it. North Korea admits it does not possess an underwater craft stealthy enough to slip past the advanced sonar and audio arrays around Byeongnyeong Island, explained North Korean intelligence analyst Kim Myong Chol in a news release. "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." The Cheonan sinking occurred in the aftermath of the March 11-18 Foal Eagle Exercise, which included anti-submarine maneuvers by a joint U.S.-South Korean squadron of five missile ships. A mystery surrounds the continued presence of the U.S. missile cruisers for more than eight days after the ASW exercise ended. Only one reporter, Joohee Cho of ABC News, picked up the key fact that the Foal Eagle flotilla curiously included the USNS Salvor, a diving-support ship with a crew of 12 Navy divers. The lack of any minesweepers during the exercise leaves only one possibility: the Salvor was laying bottom mines. Ever since an American cruiser was damaged by one of Saddam Hussein's rising mines, also known as bottom mines, in the Iraq War, the U.S. Navy has pushed a crash program to develop a new generation of mines. The U.S. Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command has also been focused on developing counterparts to the fearsome Chinese naval "assassin's mace," which is propelled by a rocket engine. A rising mine, which is effective only in shallow waters, rests atop a small platform on the sea floor under a camouflage of sand and gravel. Its detection system uses acoustics and magnetic readings to pick up enemy ships and submarines. When activated, jets of compressed air or solid-fuel rockets lift the bomb, which self-guides toward the magnetic center of the target. The blast rips the keel, splitting the ship or submarine into two neat pieces, just as was done to the RKOS Cheonan. A lateral-fired torpedo, in contrast, "holes" the target's hull, tilting the vessel in the classic war movie manner. The South Korean government displayed to the press the intact propeller shaft of a torpedo that supposedly struck the Cheonan. Since torpedoes travel between 40-50 knots per hour (which is faster than collision tests for cars), a drive shaft would crumble upon impacting the hull and its bearing and struts would be shattered or bent by the high-powered blast. The initial South Korean review stated that the explosive was gunpowder, which would conform to North Korea's crude munitions. This claim was later overturned by the inquiry board, which found the chemical residues to be similar to German advanced explosives. Due to sanctions against Pyongyang and its few allies, it is hardly credible that North Korea could obtain NATO-grade ordnance. Thus, the mystery centers on the USNS Salvor, which happened to be yet right near Byeongyang Island at the time of the Cheonan sinking and far from its home base, Pearl Harbor. The inquiry board in Seoul has not questioned the officers and divers o
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DarthAmerica       8/30/2010 3:09:13 PM


Something that needs to be expanded upon. Motives/NorK sanity and how the United States makes war.


First, I do not believe that the North Korean leadership are insane. I believe they choose to operate their regime outside of normal internationally accepted framework in order to achieve their primary objectives of consolidating power and ensuring regime survival. this may seem insane when they do things unless your understand their geopolitical interest. A country capable of developing nuclear weapons is not "insane". Evil is another matter.

Having said that and assuming all of you are correct that North Korea DID SINK CHEONAN, what motives? Well I would say that only three possibilities exist.

-Disproportionate retaliation for previous naval clashes designed to embarrass South Korea. I would say that while possible, I do not think this is likely simply because the North would have no way of guaranteeing the results or predicting the response from South Korea.

-Attempt to draw attention and get direct talks with the USA on nuclear issue and normalized relations. Again, for the same reasons listed above, this is quite a risk to take for very little guarantee of getting a favorable outcome.

-NorK Clandestine operation gone wrong and Cheonan in the wrong place at the wrong time. If the NorKs did it, then this makes the most sense. The NorKs could have been backed into a corner and rather than be captured or killed fought back or initiated hostilities with overwhelming firepower.

So if one must assume that the NorKs did this, these are my thoughts as to why.


Now moving on to the USA and making war. This is important to understand for the following reason. If the South decided to go to war with the North, THAT WILL draw in the United States military. That's a fact. When the United States makes war, it does so within the framework of a coalition force structure. This has a lot of benefit to include reduced U.S. Military manpower and logistic requirements because we leverage the capabilities of allies during times of war. Otherwise the United States would need to maintian much larger force structures and negotiate even more for basing ect. The downside of that is when our allies, and by extension the USA, make war, the political considerations of all parties involved need to be taken into account. Otherwise you may lose support of key players and even face opposition in the UN.

For these reasons it's crucial for matters that don't represent an existential threat to be rock solid. Otherwise you will face extreme difficulty in getting support during sanctions or operations. There are too many examples to list but you can refer to Turkey in 2003 or France in 1986.

START looking at it that way...


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SantaClaws       8/30/2010 4:57:39 PM
I'm not tracking.
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warpig       8/30/2010 11:23:49 PM
And I for one do not care if I can track it or not.  I for one refuse to play guessing games or sit at your feet as you lead me into enlightenment.  If you want to make some complete case about possible motives for some nation(s) to frame North Korea, then do it.  I'll check back after you've finished painting the picture.
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DarthAmerica       8/31/2010 12:05:37 AM
And I don't care who tracks it or not either. I created this thread for my own motives which have been satisfied. Either you get it and agree/disagree or you don't. Doesn't make you right, wrong or other. This is just my opinion on some random internet forum. It's not a popularity contest or big deal. I know whats going on and that's enough for me. For those who actually what to mutually discuss this entertain/educate themselves then I'm game. For all the rest....

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smitty237       8/31/2010 2:05:08 AM
This thread sat dormant for about two weeks until I posted the first post.  Your response to that post, and subsequent posts, has been a little testy and argumentative.  This seems to be a subject in which you have given a lot of thought and have formed a lot of opinions about, and I think most of us are having a hard time understanding why this particular incident and discussion has you so vexed (contentious posts from Santa Claws not withstanding).  So what were your motives for starting this thread, and how have they been satisfied?  Just curious. 
Moving on to the other points you made.  I found your possible scenarios for a NORK attack on the Cheonan interesting.  I most intrigued by the third scenario, and it seems to make the most sense because it presents a situation in which a NORK naval officer might have launched a torpedo on his own without consulting the brass or considering the ramifications.  Of course an extension of this scenario is that the officer was given explicit orders to take whatever steps necessary to prevent capture, so while sinking the Cheonan may not have been ordered by Kim Jong Il, it may not have been expressly forbidden either.  In the past North Korean submariners and commandoes have committed suicide in order to prevent capture, but what if in this case it was the submarine or the equipment they were carrying in the submarine they were protecting from capture? 
The other parts of your most recent post are a little more problematic.  The leadership of North Korea may not all be insane, but there is a big difference between insanity and irrationality, and insanity is also different from intelligence and a lack of virtue.  Building a nuclear bomb doesn't require sanity, it requires intelligence, or at least having intelligent people working for you.  An evil person may not necessarily be insane, but an evil person often behaves differently than a rational person because they do not conform to social norms or accepted standards of conduct.  An evil head of state doesn't give a damn about his constituents and won't allow himself to be voted out of office, so he doesn't care about his popularity.  He will have no problem executing his own citizens for questioning authority, and really doesn't care if a bunch of his citizens are killed in a war he starts because of his own arrogance and poor strategic choices.  Of course eventually he runs the risk of alienating so many of his citizens that they eventually rise up against him, but the way to hedge against this is to create a powerful government bureaucracy and security apparatus consisting loyal henchmen that rely upon the evil head of state to maintain their privileged lifestyle.  Once you lose those people, it's over.  Right now I think some of those people in the North Korean government are starting to lose faith in Kim Jong Il, and are undoubtedly beginning to think in existential terms.  They have to know that many of them (along with their families) will perish in the next Korean War, or at the very least they realize that once they shooting is over they will most likely be out of a job.  Until those guys decide to make a move Kim is still in charge, and I think you would be hard pressed to make the case that Kim wouldn't dare risk war because that isn't something a rational person would do. 
The next part about this whole thing being about how the US makes war is also problematic.  It's true that building coalitions is part of US defense strategy when preparing for armed conflict (especially with the bunch in the White House right now), but I don't see how it applies in this case.  It was necessary prior to Iraq (both times) and Afghanistan, among others, but that was because the United States was INITIATING offensive military operations against another country.  I've not heard anybody try to make the case for invading or attacking North Korea, so the need to build a coalition doesn't seem to apply.  If anything, the strategy over most of the fifty seven years since the end of open hostilities has been to prepare for an attack from the North.  Are we building a coalition for when the North invades?  If the North invaded the whole moral context needed to justify war would instantly present itself, so why the need to build one now?  I guess this could make sense if South Korea and the US makes a push inthe UN for foreign troops to start deploying to the South to assist in that defense, but I haven't heard any of those rumbles yet.  And how does lying about the sinking of the Cheonan help build that coalition?  If anything, fudging the data to point the finger at North Korea could backfire because if the truth were discovered it would make it loo
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DarthAmerica    @smitty   8/31/2010 3:09:04 AM
I'm going to answer your questions from the last post...

1. I started the thread in order to share the opposing view on what happened to Cheonan and gather feedback from others. I was prepared for and expected disagreement. I hoped that it would remain civil. By the standards of this website that's been achieved.

2. If we assume the NorK did it to protect secrets of some sort then they achieved that and there is no way to know. 

3. Your last post assumes too much for me. More specifically that hostilities be initiated by the North. I don't accept that. The North has almost nothing to achieve by initiating hostilities(minor skirmishes not withstanding). They have everything to gain by keeping the spotlight on themselves. However this has to be within reason. They have sufficient deterrence to be reasonably safe from any sort of existential military action from South Korea. Perhaps even the United State considering that we are stretched to thin to mix it up with them. But there are other actions that they do need to be careful of. The penetration of modern communications and isolation which can serve to exacerbate some of the problems you accurately described earlier. 

Like Israel, North Korea cannot hope to survive without its benefactors in China. But here lies the problem. China is growing and establishing itself as a mainstream legitimately recognized world power. As this progresses China is being forced into conforming with internationally accepted norms. It's getting really hard to say you are a modern upstanding country while offering support for a rogue regime like North Korea. Add to this other issues like economics. A lot of people say, erroneously, that China is holding all the cards because they are a creditor. This isn't true. The reality is that the dollar is THE global currency and the United States allows China to undervalue it's currency which gives it a competitive advantage in western markets which bring in the cash that they then lend out. The problem with that is that at any time, the United States and other great economic powers can put this set up into serious turmoil by REQUIRING China to play fair economically which would shatter their economy. Having said that, if a situation like Cheonan were to come up regardless of how it was sunk. Hostile NorK action, accident or even space aliens then blaming the North has the following benefits. 

-China has to help further isolate North Korea which serves to dramatically weaken the North's positions
-China loses credibility if it supports the North which it did

-Makes a case for a beefed up S Korean military which also serves as a challenge to Chinese regional ambitions 

-Makes a case for increased US Military presence and cooperation with nations in the region which challenge Chinese regional ambitions

It also helped to shield South Korean leadership during very contentious internal political debate. Not no one should interpret any of this to mean I'm suggesting a conspiracy where Cheonan was sunk on purpose by blue forces. Rather I believe that in addition to it being possible the NorKs did it, it's also possible that they didn't and when Cheonan sank the S Koreans and USA took advantage of the situation to their benefit. It's this last part people seem to have an issue with. I believe it to be disingenuous or naive to deny that these are at least possibilities.




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WarNerd       8/31/2010 4:01:14 AM

First, I do not believe that the North Korean leadership are insane. I believe they choose to operate their regime outside of normal internationally accepted framework in order to achieve their primary objectives of consolidating power and ensuring regime survival. this may seem insane when they do things unless your understand their geopolitical interest. A country capable of developing nuclear weapons is not "insane". Evil is another matter.

Having said that and assuming all of you are correct that North Korea DID SINK CHEONAN, what motives? Well I would say that only three possibilities exist.

-Disproportionate retaliation for previous naval clashes designed to embarrass South Korea. I would say that while possible, I do not think this is likely simply because the North would have no way of guaranteeing the results or predicting the response from South Korea.

-Attempt to draw attention and get direct talks with the USA on nuclear issue and normalized relations. Again, for the same reasons listed above, this is quite a risk to take for very little guarantee of getting a favorable outcome.

 Another possibility that you are discounting is that North Korea believes that they understand the physical and political limits of South Korea and the USA ability to respond.  If they believe (correctly, as it turns out) that this action cannot result in a military responce, what is the worst that South Korea and the USA can do, impose more sanctions?  (Question: Is there anything left that can be done to add to the current sanctions, without sanctioning another country - like China?)  Sure, they only have to be wrong once, but since they were right this was a 'freebie'.
The second thing to consider is that the diplomatic 'target' of the sinking may not have been South Korea and the USA, but China.  If North Korea felt that China was putting too much pressure on them to negotiate and calm things down, then the sinking could be to convey a message to the Chinese to back off or they will cause the whole area to go up in flames.  This would be brinkmanship on a grander scale than anything North Korea has done before, but they may be getting desperate.
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YelliChink       8/31/2010 11:26:26 AM


I LOL'd.
The interestes of the leadership of a country may or may not in direct contradiction to the people. The interests of the state may or may not be in congruency with the nation. The contradiction and incongruency happens when power structure is invalid by either economic collapse, corruption or extreme amount of political control in order to further extract production and wealth from the population.
In the case of DPRK, the House of Kim the Usurpers want to maintain power, but not quite so think the party members and other bureaucrats. What would you do if you were Kim Jong-mentally-il?
PRC leadership want no responsibility to the world. They are not interested in replacing or joinging the world order created and maintained by the Western ruling elites, or New World Order as some may prefer to put it.
But they have everything to gain from destabilizing that system. Replacing USD with RMB as internationally recognized trade currency serves their interests best, as they can use their cheap labor force inexchange for market and resources. That trade system actually works much more sensible than the one we currently have.
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warpig       9/14/2010 8:51:02 AM

"But in an apparent easing of tensions, the North this month returned a South Korean fishing boat and its seven crew seized a month earlier and requested flood aid from its neighbour. "


"The South's Red Cross said Monday it would send rice and cement."



Oh, good.  Now the North Korean Navy will have the materiel to build another latrine that the North Korean submarine crew that murdered 46 South Korean sailors can use after eating the rice the South will send them.






S.Korea releases final report on fatal warship sinking

Sept 13, 2010

South Korea Monday released a full report into the deadly sinking of a warship blamed on North Korea, saying it was acting to quell "groundless" suspicions about who was to blame for the tragedy.


The defence ministry report, numbering around 300 pages, reaffirms conclusions reached in May by international investigators that a torpedo attack by a North Korean submarine sank the corvette and killed 46 sailors.


The South announced reprisals after the initial report was published, including a partial trade cut-off, triggering an angry response from the North, which continues to deny responsibility.


Many South Koreans are also sceptical. A survey by Seoul National University's Institute for Peace and Unification Studies showed that only three in 10 trust the findings of the international inquiry.


The 1,200-ton warship was split into two on March 26 near the tense inter-Korea sea border off the west coast, in one of the divided peninsula's deadliest incidents in decades.


Investigators from the United States, Sweden, Australia and Britain as well as South Korea concluded in May there was overwhelming evidence that a torpedo attack was the cause.


Russia sent its own experts to Seoul for an independent investigation but has not made the results public.


"Even within the Republic of Korea (South Korea), the reality is that there are individuals who raise doubts against the investigation results based on their own interest, and they are taking irresponsible acti

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