The latest Korean escalation continues to refuse to be relegated to the annals of history. Various demonstrations on Saturday in the two countries confirmed that people on both sides of the the DMZ are demanding far more than just rhetorical placation. And now that the USS George Washington has symbolically entered the fray, the escalation has become about far more than just Korean nationalist pride, but is about Chinese and US spheres of influence. Which is precisely why most were speculating that a reversion to the mean was imminent: after all neither China, nor the US would benefit from a regional conflict. However as the AP reports, events may soon be spiralling out of control: "As protesters in Seoul demanded their government
take sterner action against North Korea, the North issued new warnings
against the war games scheduled to start Sunday with a U.S.
nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the Yellow Sea. The North called the games an "unpardonable
provocation" and warning of retaliatory attacks creating a "sea of fire"
if its own territory is violated. The comments ran on North Korea's
state-run Uriminzokkiri website a day after the North's warnings that
the peninsula was on the "brink of war." China, under pressure from the U.S. and South
Korea to rein in its ally Pyongyang, urged both sides to show restraint
while Washington played down the belligerent rhetoric, noting that the
weekend war games were routine and planned well before last week's
attack." That said - there is probably no reason to worry.... After all now Hillary Clinton is involved.
"The pressing task now is to put the situation under control and prevent
a recurrence of similar incidents," Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton by phone, according to the ministry's website.
Or not: contrary to repeated warnings that joint military exercises will only further antagonize the locals and certainly bring the situation to the brink of war, we now read that "South Korea has warned its army to be on guard for further attacks from Pyongyang ahead of joint military exercises between the US and Seoul." At this point the conventional wisdom is that North Korea is acting like a rabid dog (which as has recently been disclosed has nuclear capabilities). Yet the US continues to provoke it. In the global game theory game, who is therefore to blame?
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak told ministers and aides to be ready for "provocation" by the North - and the country's Marine commander vowed "thousand-fold" revenge for the attacks this week that killed two servicemen and two civilians.
The US and Seoul will begin joint exercises on Sunday in the Yellow Sea.
North Korea said any civilian deaths were "very regrettable" but accused South Korea of using members of the public as a human shield.
It also said the US should be blamed for "orchestrating" the whole sequence of events to justify sending in a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to join the military exercises.
"If the US brings its carrier to the West Sea of Korea at last, no one can predict the ensuing consequences," North Korea's KCNA news agency said.
North Korea has warned it will continue to launch attacks if the South violates its disputed sea border.
China says it is determined to prevent an escalation of the violence but warned against military acts near its coast.
Since festivities will continue well through the night on Sunday (EDT), look for geopolitical risk to be well bid heading into Monday morning.
Below is a more exhaustive analysis of the geopolitic of the region via Stratfor.
Just as both sides seemed to be nearing a resumption of talks, North Korea shelled South Korean positions on an island in disputed western waters, and a U.S. carrier strike group was dispatched to the Yellow Sea for exercises with South Korean forces. Since the sinking of the South Korean ChonAn in March, the United States had said it would deploy the USS George Washington to the Yellow Sea but had balked, in part because of objections from China. Now that North Korea has ratcheted up tensions again, Washington is sending a message to Beijing as well as Pyongyang: Rein in North Korea in order to better manage relations with the United States.
U.S. Forces Korea announced Nov. 24 that the USS George Washington carrier strike group (CVN 73) left Yokohama, Japan, on Nov. 24 to join South Korean forces for naval exercises Nov. 28-Dec. 1 in the Yellow Sea/West Sea. The group includes the guided missile cruisers USS Cowpens (CG 63) and USS Shiloh (CG 67) as well as the guided missile destroyers USS Stethem (DDG 63) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), and it may also include a nuclear-powered attack submarine