Friday, December 17, 2010

“South Koreans believe now that we need to take at least some form of military measures...This kind of thinking was taboo in the past"

"...“Our retaliation [the day of the Yeonpyeong attack] was not enough,” Mr. Kim said, referring to the belated return of artillery fire that day. “Even if war results, we have to give North Korea a lesson.”

Such talk is suddenly the rule among South Koreans.

...If South Korea proceeds with a military drill on Yeonpyeong, “second and third unpredictable self-defensive strikes will be made,” an unnamed senior North Korean military official said in comments carried by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency.

The Communist regime's official website, Uriminzokkiri, also warned Friday that “if war breaks out, it will lead to nuclear warfare and not be limited to the Korean Peninsula.”

At the same time, restraint is not a popular option in the South.

...more than two-thirds of South Koreans say they favour “limited military retaliation” to the latest attack by the North, even though any counterattack could trigger unforeseeable results.

...President Lee Myung-bak has replaced his defence minister and, earlier this week, his army boss. The media slammed both of them over what was seen as the country's tepid response to the artillery assault.

Kim Kwan-jin, the country's new Defence Minister, immediately promised at his confirmation hearing that South Korea would “definitely” retaliate with air strikes to the next North Korean provocation.

Some believe the peninsula is closer to all-out war than it has been in decades.

“If they provoke us again, we'll strike back. That's a national consensus formed between the people and the government … even the UN or the U.S. wouldn't stop us,” said Baek Seung-joo of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, a think tank run by the Ministry of Defence.

...“South Koreans believe now that we need to take at least some form of military measures versus North Korea. This kind of thinking was taboo in the past,” said Jeong Han-wool, who oversees public-opinion research at the Seoul-based East Asia Institute.

...South Korean units have been instructed that the country's right to self-defence now supersedes the military's usual rules of engagement that stress the avoidance of full military engagement. “Some people in the opposition party and some military analysts say that if we strike back it will lead inevitably to full-scale war.

...the South Koreans are in battle mode and their bellicosity could be very, very bad. The next time the North Koreans stage some provocation – and they will – the South Koreans will have to react in a mighty way or they will look silly. So the North Koreans will stage a counter-counterstrike and we will see a spiral of escalation in no time.”"

Globe and Mail

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