The accounting of this that NBC News has gotten is that South Korea did, indeed, fire first in this live fire training exercise with the artillery pointing south, away from the North Korean border and North Korean territory, and then North Korea responded four hours later, shelling the South Korean positions and the two soldiers were killed. And South Korea claims there are even more casualties after they returned to fire.I want to thank Mr. Olbermann for injecting a few facts into the war hysteria that the MSM has been promoting since the first reports about this newest incident in the Korean War surfaced in the early morning news Tuesday. If the keys facts that we know already were as widely reported as the story, the narrative that the U.S. government, the South Korean government and the MSM are trying to build of "another crazy North Korean provocation" falls flat on the facts.
The South Koreans did indeed fire first and they fired last, claiming to have caused "massive causalities" in North Korea with it's salvo of more than 90 shells.. Their first shelling was part of a military exercise that they were conducting around the island of Yeonpyeong. This island is claimed by South Korea, and with U.S. military support, it and the rich surrounding fishing waters, is controlled by South Korea, but it is disputed territory. One look at the map should be enough to tell you why. It is only 7 miles from the coast of North Korea and 60 miles from the South Korean mainland. It is as though Mexico was still claiming Catalina Island off the California coast!
NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH!
As we know, every story has at least two sides, in what maybe an American media first, I am using the box below to give you the unfiltered North Korean side of the story as told on DPRK website:
The DPRK (North Korean side) warned ROK (South Korea) against the Hoguk exercise to be staged by the US imperialist aggressor forces and the south Korean puppet fascist armed forces many times.
The map above shows the Northern Limit Line (NLL). The line was unilaterally set by the US led United Nations military forces on August 30, 1953. It is not officially recognized by DPRK (North Korea). In particular, it is not included into the Armistice Agreement of 1953. The line was originally drawn to prevent southern incursions into the north however its role has since transformed to prevent DPRK ships heading south.
On 23nd of November at 1300 local time the South Korean fired shots inside the Northern Limit Line, towards DPRK. At 1434 upon receiving the order from the Supreme Command of the Korean Peoples Army, we returned fire against the South Korean attackers based in the military camp of Yongpyong.
The answer against the South Korean provocation shows that DPRK honour its promise as stated before and announced in KCNA that any aggression against the North will be met with material response.
Keith Olbermann's guest, Wendy Sherman, a Clinton era Korean hand said, "South Korea was performing a drill. The North Koreans knew the drill was taking place. It was not a provocative act."
She should have also said that the North Koreans objected strongly and warned that if the South went forward with its plans there would be bloodshed. Had she done that, she would have put the lie to everybody's 'surprise' at the North Korean response, and the talking heads like Richard Haas on Morning Joe that explained the North Korean attack by saying "they're unpredictable, they're crazy." The South said we plan to conduct military exercises just off your coast. The North said, if you do we will regard it as a hostile action and respond with force. The South when ahead anyway and the North did what it said it would do. The narrative that "they're unpredictable" only works if the whole story isn't known.
And it most certainly was a provocative act, like over flying a U.S. aircraft craft carrier. The skies above the oceans belong to no nation, and you may have the right fly anywhere you like. But if you fly over an American carrier group, you can't claim that it's not a provocative act. [Remember Top Gun] And if the fighters warn you off and you persist, don't be 'shocked' if you are fired upon. Holding military exercises in disputed territories almost always is provocative, especially if the two parties are still technically at war. You want to see Pakistan or India carrying out competing military exercises in Cashmere? Holding any kind of military exercise near a hostile border should be considered provocative given just how often such 'exercises' have been used to prepare an invasion.
Take for example, the conduct of the U.S. military off the coast of Vietnam in the summer of 1964. The official story is that U.S. destroyers Turner Joy and Maddox were minding their own business in international waters when they were wantonly attacked [without provocation] in the Gulf of Tonkin on August 4, 1964. This incident enabled President Johnson to get what amounted to a Declaration of War against North Vietnam. We now know that the claimed North Vietnamese attack never happened and far from being innocent sailors in international waters, the two U.S. ships were supporting CIA operations against North Vietnam. The latest information, well documented in my film, Vietnam: American Holocaust, strongly indicated that the whole Gulf of Tonkin Incident, as it came to be known, was hatched in the Whitehouse.
There is a history to this current incident also. Joint U.S. - South Korean exercises in the Yellow Sea, where Yeonyeong is located, had been planned for October. The American super carrier U.S.S. George Washington was to be a part of those exercises. Then not only did North Korea strongly protest, China did too and they canceled a planned first ever visit to Hong Kong by the U.S.S. George Washington. Under the pressure that was brought to bear and in view of the coming G20 summit in South Korea, those plans were put on hold.
The top brass railed. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a media roundtable in Melbourn, Australia on November 8th "The only thing I'd answer is those are international waters and they aren't owned by China. They aren't owned by Korea. They're international waters in which we have and many other countries have sailed forever. My expectation is we'll continue to do that." Secretary of Defense Robert Gates echoed him "we will assert freedom of navigation, as we have for a long time."
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell was more adamant We didnt cancel any exercise, the said at the Pentagon regular briefing on Nov. 5th, This notion of canceled, I think, is just hyperbolic. Weve been trying to work out the next appropriate date for us to jointly exercise in the Yellow Sea with the U.S.S. George Washington." He then twice more promised that the U.S.S. George Washington would soon be back:
We are still working on that date, but rest assured, we will do so with that aircraft carrier in the Yellow Sea, Morrell said.
It is difficult to get all those parts together and assembled and full agreement on when to proceed with this, Morrell said. But we will do so. We will be back in the Yellow Sea. We will be there with the George Washington, so stay tuned.
So now President Obama has found cause to send the U.S.S. George Washington into the Yellow Sea off the coast of North Korea. This should surprise no one.
BTW. Any understanding of the attitude of Koreans, both North and South towards the United States should be informed by the fact that we killed millions of Koreans, mostly women and child and did it in a very mean way. The No Gun Ri Massacre, in which over 300 South Korean civilians where slaughtered by U.S. soldiers, is just the tip of the iceberg. It was covered up for 50 years. It is only one of more than 60 such incidents that the South Korean government has requested the U.S. investigate. The U.S. has refused.
Anyone still suffering under the illusion that we were the 'good guys' in the Korean War needs to see the BBC documentary Kill Them All about "the hidden story of the American army's attack on South Korean refugees during the Korean War in 1950." For your education, I have posted it on Google Video here. I would also recommend Carl Boggs' The Crimes of Empire. In it he documents the U.S. use of Biological Weapons in Korea, including plague, anthrax, scarlet fever and encephalitis. Yes there is a reason why the Korean War has become the "Forgotten War" and it is not a pretty one.