Post time 2011-2-23 09:11:31
The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States will hold their annual joint military exercise, "Key Resolve/Foal Eagle", from Feb 28 to March 10. The ROK's media say the war games are aimed at strengthening the country's defense against "any potential contingency that could arise" from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), once again trumpeting the "DPRK collapse" theory.|
This theory is popular in the West. Many Western politicians and researchers, predicting the DPRK's collapse, tend to count China in. Likewise, the media in the West and the ROK keep flashing contrived news that China's army will soon or has already entered the DPRK, raising the alert against China.
The "DPRK collapse" theory is rampant because many Western and ROK politicians and researchers see DPRK as a hostile country and part of an "axis of evil", instead of judging it objectively. When it comes to news about the DPRK, they would rather expect the worst. Quite often, they enthusiastically speculate how long the DPRK would "linger on" and when its leader Kim Jong-il would "breathe his last". Needless to say, the objective of their predictions remains questionable.
Looking back at the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the unification of Germany, many Western politicians believe the "gloom and doom" of the DPRK is just a matter of time. To substantiate their theory, the US, the ROK, and Japan quote the escapees from the DPRK as having said the "doom is near". But the escapees' political inclination makes it impossible to rely on their remarks to know what the real situation in the DPRK is.
The "DPRK collapse" theory dates back to the mid-1990s when the US signed the Agreed Framework (1994) with the DPRK, which granted concessions to Pyongyang and thus dissatisfied some politicians in Washington. After that, a rumor started doing the rounds in US political circles that the DPRK was about to collapse. That gave birth to the "DPRK collapse" theory.
Later, the US cut off its heavy oil supply to the DPRK, which was part of the Agreed Framework to compensate Pyongyang for dismantling its graphite-moderated reactors. Moreover, the reports in the West and the ROK about "ill health of Kim Jong-il" made the US accelerate its efforts with the ROK last year to advance "CONPLAN 5029", which was designed to handle any contingencies on the divided Korean Peninsula, to an operational-level war plan (OPLAN 5029), proving that Washington had renounced its previous wait-and-act policy and taken the initiative to intervene.
Noticeably, the changes in US policies were prompted by the "DPRK collapse" theory and could further threaten peace and stability on the Peninsula.
The ROK, on its part, proposed a new tax last year to fund the future cost of unification with the DPRK, thus misleading its people that the "DPRK collapse is around the corner". Japan, too, has been outlining the "doom" of Kim Jong-il and his country and, in complete contrast, trumpeting the "DPRK threat" theory.
The "DPRK collapse" theory has thus deeply influenced the policymaking of the US, the ROK and Japan.
The fact remains that understanding the true situation in and position of the DPRK, instead of popping up theories, can make a big difference. Yonhap News Agency has quoted Dong Yong-seung, a DPRK expert at Samsung Economic Research Institute, as having said that the DPRK is less likely to collapse simply because of an economic crisis. Indeed, the DPRK has been facing economic hardship since the late 1990s, but the country's political situation has remained stable over the past two decades, something that has gone unnoticed by many.
Despite the statement by the US-ROK Combined Forces Command that the "Key Resolve/Foal Eagle" exercise is entirely routine, the ROK's media have tended to depict it as a sort of rehearsal for war, exposing the difference between the military stance and the media hype.
Soaring tensions on the Korean Peninsula made China once again call for emergency consultations among the heads of delegation to the Six-Party Talks. Though China proposed the consultations in early December, it is yet to receive a positive response from the US, the ROK or Japan. It seems as if they have deliberately let go of another chance to defuse the crisis on the Peninsula.
Instead, the US, the ROK and Japan have been holding joint military drills as an overt show of force. In fact, the US has never been prepared to shed even a drop of blood for the "unification" of the Korean Peninsula. It has, for the past decade and half, fallen back on the "DPRK collapse" theory. No wonder, the military drills make the DPRK more determined to oppose the US, the ROK and Japan.
Maintaining peace and stability on and making efforts to denuclearize the Peninsula are the common hope of the international community. To realize this hope, some countries have to discard their prejudice against the DPRK, deal with it in the proper diplomatic manner and hold negotiations on an equal footing through the Six-Party Talks.
The author is director of Border Area Research Institute, affiliated to the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences