Night Watch

South Korea: The government in Seoul announced it is expanding its air defense identification zone, which will partially overlap that which China declared last month. The two zones will now cover a submerged rock claimed by both countries, but on which sits a South Korean research platform.

The South Korean National Defense Ministry said it would co-ordinate with "related countries." South Korea said its zone would take effect on 15 December, and that neighboring countries had already been notified of the change.

Comment: Oil and gas are the underlying issues in the competing air space claims. The Chinese have raised sovereignty to the level of idolatry, but that idol rests on the bedrock of oil and gas. The Japanese and South Koreans seem less prone to glorify natural resources than the Chinese. The disputes are not fundamentally political; they are economic. That means they will not be easily solved by negotiations.

The Chinese would be well advised to not revive militarism in South Korea and, especially, in Japan.

North Korea: Authorities in Pyongyang deported the octogenarian US veteran who had returned to North Korea as a tourist. He arrived in San Francisco on 6 December.

Comment: By his own account, Mr. Newman was treated comfortably during his weeks in captivity. He was a dupe and a pawn in North Korea's need for attention and its leaders' adolescent conceit to reinforce their self-image at the expense of others. A by-product is that Newman was not mistreated, though he could have been under different circumstances.

During work on the Senate Select Committee for POW/MIA Affairs in 1992, it was learned that many US military veterans want to return to their old battlefields before they die. Veterans of every war exhibited this inclination, including veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars, for different reasons. '

The Korean War veterans, often successful businessmen, wanted to help North Korea as well as to visit old battlefields. The Vietnam vets mostly wanted to see what the country looked like without war. Both wanted closure.

The greatness of the American spirit often has proven to have been misdirected in both countries because local survivors of both wars still hate Americans and American soldiers. In Hanoi, an American veteran could expect to be spat upon by toothless old women whose sons and husbands never returned from war. In North Korea, Newman's experience is not atypical, depending on the political calculations of the Kim family.

Night Watch

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