Do you remember the Pueblo
? It was a Navy intelligence gathering ship which, on January 23, 1968 was seized by the North Koreans in international waters off the coast of North Korea. Of it's crew of 83, one was killed, the others were taken captive and imprisoned for 11 months. They were beaten and tortured and forced to sign false confessions.
I was a new missionary, not quite 20 years old in Germany, near the border of East Germany in Coburg, Bavaria. We got to know some soldiers stationed at an NSA base in which monitored electronic traffic in the Eastern Zone. 11 months. That was half of my mission, almost. What I remember most was the propaganda photo released by the North Koreans, purporting to show the crew as happy and comfortable. What they didn't realize what that the extension of the middle finger is a symbol most Americans would recognize and know that the North Koreans hadn't broken their spirits. (It sort of reminds me of the story of the Brit's two finger gesture, said to date back to the battle of Agincourt. The English weapon was the long bow, and the French, obnoxious then as now, had boasted that they would cut off the English bow fingers after beating them. When the battle was over, the English bowmen would hold up those two finger to remind the French of their empty boast. If that story isn't true, it ought to be.)
Looking back on it, that was an act of war, but the U.S. was focused on a war with the Soviet Union and Red China through their clients, the North Vietnamese. If you're seeing a pattern here, it's no coincidence.
North Korea seems to like to tweak us when they think we're too preoccupied to respond as we normally would. They're like the toady of the schoolyard bully, who will add a taunt or two, to a fight he's not a party to. Now, with our attention on Iraq and al Qaeda, they're at it again, repudiating their treaties and other agreements, firing up a nuke factory, lobbin missles around, and now playing the same old game. One wonders if their leaders aren't a little malnourished along with everybody else there. They're playing a desperate dangerous game, hoping, perhaps, that China and the South, even Japan, will increase the flow of foreign aid if they bluster and rattle their sabers.
The situation reminds me of a whale shark moving slowly along, surrounded by a cloud of smaller fish feeding off the leftovers and the flow through the plankton. It's movements seem slow and clumsy. But I remember the account of an underwater photographer who got a little too close to the tail of a whale shark and received a wallop without the fish even being aware of him. The power was beyond anything he had imagined, and it left him sore for a week.
Today, the AP reports
, " Four armed North Korean fighter jets intercepted a U.S. reconnaissance plane over the Sea of Japan and one of the Korean jets used its radar in a manner that indicated it might attack, U.S. officials said Monday.
"April 1969 when a North Korean plane shot down a U.S. Navy (news - web sites) EC-121 surveillance plane, killing all 31 Americans aboard.
"The most recent crisis involving U.S. reconnaissance aircraft was in April 2001 when a Chinese fighter jet collided with a Navy EP-3 plane, forcing it to make an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island. The fighter pilot was killed and the American crew was detained for 11 days."
I don't know what the outcome of this will be, but North Korea should know that we have lots of weapons the like of which they've never seen, and it doesn't take a nuclear strike to knock out one reactor. Maybe they should wait until they see what happens to Iraq, before they start harrassing U.S.places in international space. You don't need a million soldiers to kill a million soldiers. All you need is the right weapons. I fear that this could get hot, but remember the sweep of the whale shark's tail They might nip its tail, but with one sweep, it could crush them.
I at first thought that this behavior might be intended to distract us from Iraq. But they don't get it. A whale shark can't whip around to bite some creature that irritates it, but it sure makes a surge going past and the sweep of its tail can smash something smaller to jelly. What didn't happen, of course, is a rush to war. Then as now, the U.S. sought diplomatic solutions. What would Jacques Chirac do if a French naval crew were treated like that? Probably what Johnson and Nixon did.
So, once again, i say, Do you remember the 31 members of the plane they shot down in 1969 and the 83 members of the Pueblo crew? So, Messrs. Bush, Cheney, Powell and Rumsfeld, Remember the Pueblo!