Visit to the front by Obama
One would think that the band width for peace would be greater than the propensity for war.
While Iraq and Afghanistan wars are winding down and will fade into the muddy fog of wars past, President Obama stared America’s longest stalemate in the eyes through binoculars at the Korean front.
I ponder this situation with interest for several reasons:
1. The first time that I realized my own personal danger was when I heard my Grandfather speaking about the possibility of nuclear attack against North Korea and retaliation by Russia against the USA.
2. The persistent friction between “communist” nations – USSR, China, North Vietnam, and North Korea that intermingled hot and cold war.
3. My visits to South Korea and interaction with my students while teaching for UC Berkeley.
Visit South Korea and you will see tremendous urban achievement, a large population of people living in a modern environment sprinkled with ancient history and alive with deep rooted culture. The enthusiasm and drive of freedom-loving South Koreans is hard to compare.
Contrast that with people to the north who share a common history until recent times. There, they live under what appears to us as an odd dictatorship that mixes a form of royalty and spiritualism with communism and militarism that is all about controlling people.
The sponsor for this strange regime to the north is China of course. Without China’s backing, the North would either wither or fold into the prosperous South.
Given a choice, don’t you think that the North Korean people would want their freedom and share of prosperity?
These are strange circumstances and it is odd to me that the United States and China can’t sit at a table and sort these matters out, once and for all.
“Obama visits Korea’s demilitarized zone By David Nakamura, Published: March 24 CAMP BONIFAS, S. Korea — President Obama made his first visit to Korea’s demilitarized zone Sunday, telling U.S. troops that the contrast between South and North Korea “could not be starker.”
Addressing 50 U.S. soldiers in the mess hall at this U.N. command post, Obama thanked them for their service at “freedom’s frontier” on the divided peninsula.
Obama said that the differences in freedom and prosperity between the two nations were striking and that “the reason the South is doing well can be attributed to the resilience of their people and their talents and hard work.”
“When I think about the transformation that has taken place in my lifetime,” Obama said, “it is directly attributable to the long line of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard who are willing to create space and opportunity for freedom and prosperity.. . . I could not be prouder of you.”
The president wore a black bomber-style jacket presented to him by Gen. James Thurman, the United Nations’ commanding general here.
Obama then met with South Korean troops and received a tour and briefing at Observation Post Ouellette, the South’s closest observation post to the military demarcation line. The post is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week by South Korean soldiers who keep an eye on North Korean troops on the other side.
At the observation post, Obama used a pair of binoculars to look across the demarcation line into North Korea, where a flag flew above a set of military buildings.
Obama took his tour of the 155-mile-long swath of land that divides the peninsula just hours after arriving in Seoul for a three-day visit to participate in a nuclear security summit with more than 50 world leaders. Administration officials said Obama’s visit was intended, in part, to send a message to the North, whose leadership has announced plans to launch a long-range rocket in mid-April, an apparent violation of its pledge to halt weapons tests in exchange for food aid from the West.
The trip marked Obama’s third to Korea since taking office, but his first since North Korea’s 20-something leader, Kim Jong Eun, assumed power in December after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. U.S. officials said they had received a message from Pyongyang that the North planned to sound a siren at noon Sunday to commemorate the 100th day since the death of the elder Kim.”