Washington-Seoul drills escalate tensions

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-8 0:28:01

US and South Korean troops began military drills, the largest since 1976, against North Korea on Monday. Two carrier battle groups, 15,000 US soldiers and some 300,000 South Koreans are involved.

Pyongyang must have felt a lot of pressure. North Korea's National Defense Commission announced on the same day that it would launch "indiscriminate" nuclear strikes at its enemies - the Blue House at first, then US military bases in the Asia-Pacific region, and the US mainland.

Exchanges of intimidation have reached a new level in the Korean Peninsula. Having strong practical purposes, this new round of military exercises could easily trigger a real war.

War is the last option for the three parties involved, but both Koreas feel greatly insecure about each other. They want to intimidate each other by resorting to military build-up, which is highly risky.

This is the first time that the Kim Jong-un regime has encountered such a powerful and ready-to-strike military build-up from the US and South Korea.

Although claiming to own nuclear weapons, in fact Pyongyang feels no more secure than before. It stands no chance of intimidating and checking the US and the South by clamoring to use its nuclear arsenal.

No one will believe Pyongyang has the guts to launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack at the cost of being annihilated.

The risks Seoul will have to take are not fewer than Pyongyang's. If North Korea falls into an upheaval, South Korea will inevitably be the first one to bear the brunt. This could be a catastrophe for South Korea as well.

The UN Security Council has unanimously responded to North Korea's nuclear tests by imposing tough sanctions. The joint military drills have unnecessarily escalated tensions on the Peninsula. They should be condemned.

Reality does not leave South Korea many options. It has to follow Washington's steps in exchange for its protection. But South Korea should think differently by digging into the complexity of the Korean Peninsula issues.

Seoul should understand that Washington is causing great harm to the peninsula because it is obsessed with the Cold-War structure.

Deeply concerned about the military threat from the North, South Korea should stand in the North's shoes and think about what it would do in front of such large-scale exercises.

Although enmity still exists, the two Koreas share the same destiny. They might not be able to prosper together, but they will definitely undergo the same hardships if the regional situation becomes uncontrollable. The military exercises are conducted to threaten North Korea face to face, but the South has to deal with life-threatening risks as well.

Setting up contingency plans, China should be fully prepared for emergencies in the peninsula, which is closely related with China's core interests. If the situation spirals out of control, China will take firm action.

Posted in: Editorial

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