Wednesday, November 24, 2010

North Korea and South Korea Make War Sounds Again: Do Americans Even Care?

I heard the news about North Korea shelling Yeonpyeong Island on Tuesday, but I didn't have time to think much about it then. Now, reviewing the news, including how American officials "scramble to limit hostilities," I'm having trouble convincing myself that American citizens (many of whom didn't know the Republicans won back the House during our own midterm elections) even care about the potential for war between North and South Korea.

And maybe we don't need to be concerned. U.S. Envoy for North Korean policy, Stephen Bosworth, told reporters, “we regard this development with great seriousness ... we do not consider it a crisis.”

So, maybe we should ignore North Korea's recent attack on South Korea and chalk it up to Kim Jong Il's son Kim Jong Un showing off. However, I'm of the mind that we should never discount men in a pissing match. At least, be careful. They may have poor aim.

Back in May, I wrote a personal primer on North and South Korea's violent past and American involvement for a women's website. My take was don't look at North Korea's size. Look at how China holds its hand. Nobody commented. I wondered: Does that mean American women don't care about the saber rattling over there, or is it a sign that Americans in general don't care?

I see at that a Chicago Council on Global Affairs indicates Americans question U.S. involvement in Korea. The poll was conducted before Tuesday's incident.

If I had money, I'd bet that the people polled don't know the history of the U.S.A. and North and South Korea in relation to World War II. People today seem to live in a vacuum when it comes to history. Many of us know nothing about how the state of world came to be, and yet we eagerly oppose U.S. involvement in other parts of the world, weeping over our tax burden.

We close eyes to how often our America's earlier involvement contributed to a mess rearing its head in current news. It seems sometimes that we're a nation that loves to talk of accountability, but we don't really want to be held accountable for much, like cleaning up after our old policies backfire.

I recall that while we ran to Iraq, giving George Bush the thumbs up because he yelled about Arabs having "weapons of mass destruction," few people considered that North Korea worked away at growing its nuclear capabilities. And it's not like that country is America-friendly. Not important I guess. No oil.

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