30 januar, 2006

Den glemte Koreakrig

Måske mest af interesse for historie- og koldkrigsinteresserede, men alligevel.

I 1968 skete der andre ting end, at hashrygende hippier smed med sten og dyrkede gruppesex. I Asien blussede den hensovende Korea-krig (den kører, lige som 2. Golfkrig med Saddam mellem 1991 og 2003 stadig, men er bare afbrudt af en våbenhvile) for en kort stund op igen, da det amerikanske spionskib USS Pueblo, der sejlede i internationalt farvand blev kapret af Nordkoreanerne 23. Januar 1968. Pludselig var båden omgivet af fire nordkoreanske patruljebåde, der åbnede ild da Pueblo ikke bare sådan ville give efter over for piratvirksomhed.

Én amerikaner blev dræbt, og yderligere 82 blev holdt som gidsler i 11 måneder, før de endelig blev løsladt. Man har lige siden undret sig over, hvad i alverden motivet til dette uprovokerede angreb i internationalt farvand var, men nu mener James G. Zumwalt i Washington Times måske at have fundet motivationen: sårede følelser.

Observations by North Korea's highest ranking defector -- Hwang Jong Yop -- in a recent interview with me, and information I obtained about a secret U.S.-North Korean air war in which the United States was unwittingly involved months prior to the Pueblo's capture may shed light on Pyongyang's real motivation.

The Pueblo's mission had been assessed as involving minimal risk. There were no indicators a military attack might be imminent when the vessel sailed.

Mr. Hwang reports the attack was planned by Pyongyang without consultation with its allies. North Korean dictator Kim Il-sung and his military leadership carefully sought to target easy prey. But as to motivation, Mr. Hwang could offer no insights. The discovery of North Korea's secret, and short, participation in the Vietnam War nine months earlier may, therefore, be relevant.

In interviews with former North Vietnamese pilots, I learned Pyongyang pressured the Vietnamese, in early 1967, to send North Korean pilots to secretly fight the Americans. Though reluctant, North Vietnam eventually agreed. However, every North Korean pilot who engaged a U.S. pilot was shot down.

Since the North Koreans flew North Vietnamese aircraft, these losses were costly to Hanoi, which sent the North Koreans home after two months of such "assistance."

The Vietnamese pilots reported their North Korean counterparts failed because they insisted on fighting the Americans the same way they fought them in the Korean War. Technology and tactics had changed -- but they could not adjust. A cemetery just outside of Hanoi, holding the remains of 14 North Korean pilots, attests to the ultimate price paid by those unable to make the adjustment.

This brief, but poor, performance by the North Korean military during the Vietnam War clearly caused Kim Il-sung to lose face.

Not only had the North Koreans failed to shoot down a single U.S. aircraft, losing 14 of their own pilots, they also had been unceremoniously sent packing by their North Vietnamese allies. Something had to be done to atone for this loss of face.

Undoubtedly, Pyongyang saw an ideal opportunity with minimal risk in the periodic deployments of lightly armed U.S. intelligence ships to international waters just off the North Korean coast. There an isolated vessel was well outside the protective umbrella of quick-response U.S. sea and air assets.

Indications are that 38 years ago the Pueblo unfortunately may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time when Kim Il-sung sought to regain face at America's expense.

Selv om man måske ikke har forventet et sådant angreb til søs er der nu intet, der tyder på at amerikanerne ikke var klar over faren fra nord i Korea når det drejer sig om kamp på landjorden. 1968 markerer højdepunktet i hvad der af nogle er døbt den 2. Korea-konflikt.

Dels af revolutionær solidaritet med Nordvietnam, der desperat prøvede at invadere Sydvietnam igen og igen, dels for simpelthen at slå kapitalister ihjel, begyndte Nordkorea fra 1966 at intensivere de periodiske angreb på Sydkorea, og dermed de langs den demilitariserede zone stationerede amerikanske og sydkoreanske tropper. Kampene kom først tilbage til deres normale niveau i 1969, efter amerikanere og sydvietnamesere havde lammetævet Viet Cong og de Nordvietnamesiske styrker under Tet-offensiven. Et citat fra "A second war in Korea, victory in the late 1960s":

Historians who have paid attention have called it the "Second Korean Conflict." Seventy-five American troops were killed and 111 wounded during those 37 months, along with 299 South Korean soldiers killed and 550 wounded. We have not seen a tally of the total number of civilians killed, but the number is high. In addition, a US Navy ship was captured along with its crew, and a Navy reconnaissance aircraft with a 31 man crew was shot down, all souls aboard lost.

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