When North Korea chickened out and called off its threat of firing at least 4 missiles on Guam, an attempt to supposedly surround the U.S. territory with “fire”, not many believed it was China that had succeeded in cooling off the crisis. Thanks to Western mainstream media, majority believed it was President Trump’s tweets that had sent shivers down Kim’s spine.
They thought badass Kim Jong-un backed down because of some tweets from Donald Trump about engulfing North Korea in “fire and fury” and that the U.S. military were “locked and loaded”. Some actually believe it was Trump’s tightening bolts and nuts on China that had forced the Chinese to pressure North Korea to call off the missiles strike on Guam.
On Monday, the United States and South Korea began their annual joint military exercises. North Korea has long condemned the joint exercises as rehearsals for invasion. In fact, China (and even Russia) equally feels threatened with the drills. Can you think of the U.S.’ reaction if Kremlim or Beijing conducts similar exercises with Cuba – every year – close to Straits of Florida?
While the U.S. and South Korea have proceeded with the military exercise despite North Korea’s warning, not that the superpower U.S. could call it off as it would be seen as a defeat, there’s something about the drill that raises eyebrows. Around 17,500 U.S. service members participate in the 10-day joint exercise. Can you see the problem here?
The number of American troops participating decreased by 7,500 this year, as compared to 25,000 U.S. troops last year – a 30% reduction. Does this make sense considering it was merely a week ago that the hermit kingdom was about to fire 4 ICBM on Guam? Washington claimed the decrease in troops isn’t designed to pacify Pyongyang, but many analysts are skeptical.
This is perhaps the clearest proof that it’s China – NOT America – who calls the shot in the Korean Peninsula. Just think about it. If Trump administration had indeed intimidated the notorious Kim regime in the first place, would the Americans deploy smaller troops in the joint military exercises? Given Trump’s egotism and narcissism, he would have sent bigger troops than 25,000 instead.
Trump would have had sent every single soldier at his disposal to the U.S.-South Korea military drills on Monday, just to show off what a great Commander-in-Chief he is. Unfortunately, President Trump was forced to reduce the American troops, in exchange for Kim calling off his missiles strike on Guam, in what appears to be a compromise brokered by President Xi Jinping.
Defense Secretary James Mattis said the downsized numbers reflected a need for fewer personnel and had nothing to do with recent heated rhetoric between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Did he think analysts and strategists were born yesterday? Tactically and strategically, it was a dumb move as it would be seen as a weakness on the U.S. part.
There’s only one reason why the mighty and superior U.S. military sent a smaller contingent. It was pre-planned to de-escalate the tensions with North Korea. And the reason why Trump administration has to play ball was because the Chinese said that’s how the game is being played. The U.S. has 28,000 and 50,000 military personnel in South Korea and Japan respectively, mind you.
It wasn’t hard for the Chinese to justify to the Yankees the needs to downsize their troops. Following this year’s war games in March, Kim’s regime launched 4 extended-range missiles into the Sea of Japan. The rogue nation could respond with another intercontinental ballistic missile test (or more), if the U.S. refuses a reduced military exercise, as Mr. Kim would interpret it as yet another provocative move.
In fact, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea was quick to clarify that the drills are not meant to provoke the North Korea, saying – “We have no intention of raising military tensions on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea should not use this as a pretext for provocation.” Mr. Moon also stressed his opposition to military action against North Korea to a visiting American congressional delegation.
Both China and Russia have told the United States to stop its exercises – known as Ulchi-Freedom Guardian – which has been held since 1976. The argument was that it could persuade North Korea to halt its nuclear and missile testing. But the U.S. wants the North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program entirely before any negotiation could take place.
As the war of words between President Trump and Dictator Kim escalated, Beijing was forced to respond – “If North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral. If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”