May 30, 2005


Pressure on North Korea: U.S. Stealth Jets Sent to South (JOEL BRINKLEY, 5/30/05, NY Times)

The deployment last week of 15 stealth fighters to South Korea, along with the severing of the American military's only official interaction with North Korea, appears to be part of a new push by the Bush administration to further isolate North Korea despite China's hesitation to join the effort.

The deployment, confirmed by the Pentagon on Friday after several news reports, came just after the Defense Department said Wednesday that it was suspending the search for soldiers missing in action since the Korean War.

The search was the Pentagon's only mission inside North Korea and its only formal contact with the country's military. The Pentagon said it acted to ensure American troops' safety in the "uncertain environment created by North Korea's unwillingness to participate in the six-party talks," as a spokesman put it, referring to the lack of negotiations on the North's nuclear arms program over 11 months.

Although senior Pentagon officials say the F-117 stealth fighters are part of preparation for a long-planned training exercise, the show of force comes at a delicate moment both militarily and politically. China, South Korea and some experts in the United States have urged the administration to make a more specific offer to North Korea, laying out what it would get in return for giving up its nuclear arms program.

Force should be the specific offer.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 30, 2005 6:18 AM

"what it would get in return":

Why am I reminded of Michael Corleone's offer to Senator Geary in Godfather II:

"My offer is this: nothing."

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 30, 2005 2:24 PM

The so-called "stealth fighters" are, in fact, tactical bombers. They have no more dogfighting capability than an Apache helicopter.

Posted by: ghostcat at May 30, 2005 2:29 PM


Indeed. The F117, so far as I can tell, is good for little other than anti-anti-aircraft bombing (which cruise missles might do as well or better), or decapitation strikes with bunker-busters.

Posted by: Mike Earl at May 30, 2005 3:19 PM

I will repeat myself:

Why is this our problem? We need to reject ownership of this situation. Only then will the South Koreans and the Chinese, whose problem this really is, have any incentive to solve it.

Pull all of our troops out of South Korea and announce that only Japan and Taiwan are under the nuclear umbrella.

Then the South Koreans and the Chinese will have to act. Until then they will keep trying to figure out how to make us solve the problem.

Incidentally the South Koreans deserve no better. If they really wanted to be our allies they would have sent 100,000 combat troops to Iraq, without being asked.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at May 30, 2005 3:22 PM


The NKs are proxies for the Chinese; they always have been. The leash shortens and lengthens as needed. Other than a flood of refugees, what problem do the Chinese see? What option do they not believe they can utilize?

The ROK has been lobotomized on this issue. That is why the only message that will get through is for Washington to tell them directly that a couple thousand shells hitting Seoul is the price to be paid. If the first few hit some of the universities, oh well.....

But the Chinese will understand one thing: a new US ally, and a strong open economy, right on their border. Unless things go very wrong, it is possible that in 10 years, the former NK will be an emerging capitalist tiger. Perhaps that is why Beijing prefers the status quo. But it can't last forever.

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 30, 2005 3:55 PM

the F117 has a psychological effect because of the timing of its deployment in past conflicts; when the F-117 is sent to a region, it means something heavy is going to be going down in short order. this is a clear signal to the prc and to dear leader, to get their houses in order because the piper is coming with bill in hand.

Posted by: cjm at May 30, 2005 3:57 PM

Jim: If you are right, I still have the right tactic. If we drop the rope, it will be the problem of the Chinese and the Southies, which is as it should be.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at May 30, 2005 4:35 PM