Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Morning Reading

Nice translation for the Ambassador's name:  Lippert = Report.  And it is nice that north Korea is on a first name basis with "Mark."  Guess they must have used the second or third string propagandists for this statement.

But it is the accusation of our madcap saber rattling that really hurts our feelings.

The recent case amid mounting anti-Americanism reflects the mindset of south Korean people censuring the U.S. for bringing the danger of a war to the Korean peninsula through the madcap saber-rattling.

calendar>>March 5. 2015 Juche 104

U.S. Ambassador Attacked by S. Korean 

Pyongyang, March 5 (KCNA) -- Mark Report, U.S. Ambassador to south Korea, was attacked by a member of the south Korean civilian organization at the venue of a lecture sponsored by the people's council for national reconciliation and cooperation in Jongro District, Seoul on March 5.

Good for Bangladesh.  I hope other nations will have the guts to enforce their laws and international law and crack down on the criminal illicit activity being conducted by north Korean diplomats.

Bangladesh seizes $1.4 million in gold from North Korean diplomat

DHAKA Fri Mar 6, 2015 2:15am EST

I am sure there will be a response from Korea and China on this.  From a US perspective this seems very logical and should be a good thing for the Japan-US alliance as well as Japan's "most important neighboring country" but that country's domestic political constituency  can only view this through the lens of history.

Japan to define collective self-defense as an SDF ‘primary mission’

I am certainly not well versed in the nuances of diplomatic language.   However, it seems to me that being "an important neighboring country" would seem to connote a lesser status than "our most important neighboring country."  I interpret this completely opposite of my Korean friends.  I look forward to being schooled in the differences (and of course it may be problematic due to the differences in English, Japanese, and Korean languages).  I would think that the sharing of values would be implied in being our most important neighboring country and do not need to be mentioned in every statement.

On the MOFA’s website, Japan used to describe South Korea as “an important neighboring country that shares basic values with Japan such as freedom, democracy, and a market economy.” However, as of March 4, the description had changed to simply call South Korea Japan’s “most important neighboring country.”
The ministry’s altered description matches Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent stance on South Korea. When Abe gave speeches in 2013 and 2014, he described South Korea exactly the MOFA’s website used to: as “our most important neighboring country with which we share fundamental values and interests.” Abe changed this formulation in his February speech to the Diet, saying simply that “the Republic of Korea (ROK) is our most important neighboring country.”

Did Japan Just Change Its Attitude Toward South Korea?
Image Credit: White House photo by Pete Souza

Did Japan Just Change Its Attitude Toward South Korea?

A change in Japan’s official diplomatic language is causing a furor in South Korea.

U.S. Strategy in Iraq Increasingly Relies on Iran

By MARCH 5, 2015


The presence of Suleimani at the forefront of Iraqi forces’efforts to reclaim Tikrit from ISIS control underscores both the expanding influence of Iran on the central Iraqi government and the increasingly critical role that Shi’ite militiamen, thought to be operating under Quds command, are playing in the Iraqi fight against ISIS. Neither development brings pleasure to senior U.S. officials or lawmakers in Congress.

Quds force leader, commanding Iraqi forces against ISIS, alarms Washington

 James Rosen
Published March 05, 2015

I received the following comments from a very good friend with whom I have served for many years and who has also served in Korea and he provides some very important perspective:

As you would recall anti-American demonstrations were at an all-time high the summer of 2001, we had fire-bombings at the main gate of Yongsan, riots near multiple gates every Saturday (except when it rained hard) a US doctor from 121 Hospital in Seoul while returning from volunteer work at an orphanage was stabbed to death in broad daylight in Itaewon on a Saturday afternoon by a man who proclaimed that the US caused the Korean War and a pair of US civilian dependents were attacked by Anti-US demonstrators and pushed to the ground all just prior to the attacks of 9/11.  Following the attacks on 9/11 40,000 ROK riot police in full military uniforms surrounded US bases in Korea, letters of condolence came flooding in to US commands and bases, groups of Korean citizens (many who were former KATUSAs) formed patrols to help “guard” Americans and for a very long time demonstrations against US bases did not happen.  US forces were restricted from going to entertainment districts like Itaewon for a long time following the attacks out of fear of follow-on terrorist attacks, when the restrictions came down, US forces implemented a courtesy patrol that included team of officers and NCOs (LTCs, MAJs, 1SGs, SGMs, SFCs) from USFK patrolling in groups of 4-6 along with MPs until closing time.   I can remember going up to Itaewon while on-duty and having shop keepers thank us and apologize for the behavior of the demonstrators and offer support in the war against Al Qaeda.  Way different environment than prior to the attacks.

The Korean people are very proud and given the fact that North Korea made comments supporting the attack, it is likely that the South will feel additional pressure.

David S. Maxwell
Associate Director
Center for Security Studies
Georgetown University
Office: 202-687-3834
Cell: 703-300-8263
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: David Maxwell <>
Date: Thu, Mar 5, 2015 at 9:29 AM
Subject: US Ambassador Mark Lippert Attacked at Breakfast Gathering

From the Arirang Institute.  It will be interesting to read the cultural reaction to this and the national shame that Koreans will feel about this. This is something hard for people like us westerners to understand.

CNN Anderson Cooper tried to call Ambassador Lippert a Navy SEAL but Barbara Starr corrected him and correctly described him as a Naval reserve intelligence officer who had support the SEALs.

But even the most bad ass SEAL or Delta operator  (or Steven Seagal or Chuck Norris) probably could not have defended himself against a blind side attack like what happened to Ambassador Lippert unless his sixth sense was so finely turned like in the movies or he had developed eyes in the back of his head.  In a situation like this he is dependent on security procedures of the host nation and the event organizers (which obviously broke down on the Korean side since they let a known activist who had thrown a brick at the Japanese Ambassador in 2010 be seated at the table next to the Ambassador) and there are few if any Ambassadors who are given the close in protection that might have prevented this - and even then no one would have had a security detail that close to him while he is seated for breakfast - security was dependent on the Koreans vetting all the attendees but this event was probably not considered to be on a scale that needed the level of vetting required to prevent these incidents.

The blowback on this is that this could really restrain the Ambassador's engagement activities (that have been very positively received by the Korean public) because the RSO security requirements for the Ambassador's participation at events will become prohibitive to event organizers (this will be the knee jerk US reaction).  The irony is that the collective Korean sense of national guilt over this incident will put tremendous pressure on Korean security forces and whatever the US asks for in terms of security will pale in comparison to what the Koreans will do for the Ambassador whenever he is in public from now on.  The Korean security reaction will be greater than the usual US knee jerk security reaction.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Arirang Institute <>
Date: Thu, Mar 5, 2015 at 11:32 AM
Subject: American Ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, Stabbed

Facilitating dialogue in East Asia | Arirang Institute Insights
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US Ambassador Mark Lippert Attacked at Breakfast Gathering

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