Update on American Being Held in North Korea

Posted: May 07, 2013 12:01 AM

North Korea: North Korean media published the following article on 5 May:

"The spokesman for the Foreign Ministry gave the following answer to a question raised by the Korean Central News Agency Sunday as regards the issue of American Kenneth Bae, sentenced to 15 years in prison for the crimes of plotting the subversion of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK): "Kenneth Bae" was arrested and prosecuted for various crimes he committed in the DPRK aimed at the state subversion."

"He entered the DPRK with a disguised identity in an intentional way under the back-stage manipulation of the forces hostile toward the DPRK."

"During investigation by a relevant institution and trial, Kenneth Bae confessed and admitted his crimes."

"A variety of his belongings also confirmed his crimes for which he was convicted."

"Whenever Americans were put under custody in the DPRK for violating the country's law, former or incumbent high-ranking American officials flew to Pyongyang and apologized for their crimes and promised to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents."

"Therefore, the DPRK showed generosity and set them free from the humanitarian point of view."

"Kenneth Bae's case proves that as long as the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK remains unchanged, humanitarian generosity will be of no use in ending Americans' illegal acts."

"As long as the U.S. hostile policy goes on, American's illegal acts should be countered with strict legal sanctions. This is a conclusion drawn by the DPRK."

"Some media of the U.S. said that the DPRK tried to use Kenneth Bae's case as a political bargaining chip. This is ridiculous and wrong guess (sic)."

"The DPRK has no plan to invite anyone of the U.S. as regards Kenneth Bae 's issue.

Comment: This recitation of what happened in the past and the conclusions that this leadership has drawn are strong indicators that the current regime will not repeat it. No humanitarian gestures are likely. That means that the North will not release Bae in return for apologies, bribes and promise, the usual media of exchange. However, if the UN lifted sanctions in return for his release, Bae would soon be on a flight out of Pyongyang.

Afghanistan: Late last week, The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan published a quarterly report which included a section on manning in the Afghan National Army. The British newspaper Independent also published UK findings on manning as well, but with a slightly different focus.

The US report indicates the Afghan National Army has gotten smaller in the past year. Strength in March 2012 was But strength in February 2013 was 175,441.

The British reports that attrition in the Afghan National Army is about 30%, or three in every ten soldiers are killed, captured or dismissed for cause. The report also states that 5,000 recruits a month just quit, or annually a third of the current strength of the Afghan National Army.

The Special Inspector General stipulated that accurate and reliable accounting of government forces strength is necessary to help ensure US funds are spent for legitimate and eligible costs. It quoted a US command that there exists no "viable method of validating personnel numbers."

Comment: The two reports read like Vietnam redux. The US report makes clear that without outside money, almost no Afghan security forces loyal to the government would exist. 

Israel-Syria: Israeli combat aircraft executed a second airstrike on Sunday morning against Damascus airport. The Israelis have not confirmed the attack officially, but sources claim the target was Iranian surface-to-surface missiles that just arrived and were destined for Hezbollah.

Western press and Syrian rebel media claim the Israelis have entered the fight on the side of the rebels. That does not seem to be the case. The Israelis are on their own side and that means ensuring that Hezbollah never receives weapons that can increase ttheir prospect of victory in a future war with Israel.

NightWatch special note: Last week George Will published an op-ed piece in which he recommended that US and international diplomats cease describing developments as "unacceptable" that they have no ability to change and, thus, have already accepted.

End of NightWatch


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