Monday, May 30, 2011

Asia Times Online articles from the past

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Middle East front opens for the Koreas
The relationship of the two Koreas to events in the Middle East is precariously entwined. The North is waiting in the wings to add to growing sales of military hardware within the club of international pariah states should the ruling regimes in Syria and Libya survive. It is precisely the threat of a revival of Cold War "client states" that will draw South Korea and Israel closer (May 18, 2011)

North Korea: Calculus of an existential war
Connections made between North Korea's succession process for heir-apparent Kim Jong-eun and its nuclear and conventional provocations ignore that the country's policies are rooted in the existential threat posed by South Korea. Nuclear weapons are a long-term deterrence strategy, and regime change in Pyongyang will not alter this established military doctrine. (April 20, 2011)

Cyber-attacks add to North Korea arsenal
Recent denial-of-service attacks on South Korean bank and government websites show that North Korea is adding increasingly sophisticated cyber-warfare to its armory of nuclear weapons and missiles, its conventional bargaining chip since the 1990s. The North is schooling hackers, and according to one military defector more than 30,000 people are engaged in official acts of electronic sabotage. (March 16, 2011)

Did South Korea target the right pirates?
While the South Korean navy's successful assault against Somali pirates boosted domestic morale following provocations by the North, it did little to tackle the root cause of this rising threat to Seoul's economic lifelines. While al-Qaeda or fundamentalists are blamed for turning young Somalis into pirates, a more likely motivator is the looting and destruction of maritime resources by European nations. (January 31, 2011)

Misunderstandings may prove fatal
Washington's responses to Pyongyang have repeatedly shown a fundamental lack of understanding about what the North Korean regime really is, and what it wants. Treating the North like a Chinese puppet, or lumping it in with non-state terrorist groups like al-Qaeda are both mistaken approaches, and could lead to dangerous errors of judgment. (January 7, 2011)

Obituary: North Korean hero to outcast
The life of Hwang Jang-yeop - a senior North Korean official who helped create the ideology of juche (self-reliance), witnessed Kim Il-sung's reign and Kim Jong-il's rise before a high-profile defection to South Korea - was as tumultuous as the fortunes of the mysterious country he helped run. (November 9, 2010)

Rogues in a 'rogue state'?
An independent attack could explain the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan at such an inopportune moment for the Pyongyang hierarchy, even though the very concept of the North Korean military acting independently challenges established United States and South Korean foreign policy convention towards North Korea. (September 20, 2010)

Clawing back credibility in Kyrgyzstan
The United States and Russia have a key role to play in Kyrgyzstan’s fragile attempts to become the first functioning democracy in Central Asia. Many Kyrgyz still suspect, however, that the US is merely continuing its obsessive pursuit of strategic assets in the region, while for Moscow securing the former-Soviet space against religious extremists takes priority. (September 2, 2010)

Lee's chance to steer a new course
Northeast Asia after the Cheonan affair is more volatile than it has been since the end of the Cold War. With North Korea off the hook, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has lost the most. A reversal of his policy toward Pyongyang would stem the loss and, more importantly, could restore some sense of stability to the region. (July 29, 2010)

Russia has reasons to stay its hand
Moscow's reluctance to intervene in Kyrgyzstan's strife has been interpreted as weakness. But still bristling with military might and technology, the Kremlin is well capable of defending interests in its "near abroad". A more likely reason for Russia's absence is that it already dominates the region through energy supplies, and the US air base at Manas actually serves its limited neo-imperial ambitions. (July 13, 2010)

Pyongyang purge echoes Stalin
The excesses of Kim Jong-il and of his father before him resemble those of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. History suggests that Pyongyang's recent execution of elite officials over last year's bungled currency reform herald the start of another bloody purge, with dire signs of famine adding to its likely intensity. (June 14, 2010)

War, succession and economics on the peninsula
As South Korea, with the help of Washington, makes its counter-offensives against North Korea following the sinking of the Cheonan, the continued isolation of Pyongyang is forcing new and dangerous options onto the table. Among these is war, although the crisis could provide the opportunity for the six-party talks to resume and secure the stability of Northeast Asia. (June 9, 2010)

Russia takes a keen interest
As it steps into the Cheonan investigation, Russia is showing that although protective of North Korea, it won't be blindly soft. What Moscow needs is a moderately belligerent, non-nuclear regime in Pyongyang that could facilitate its objectives while standing against American influence in the Pacific Rim. (June 3, 2010)

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