- By John HudsonJohn Hudson is a senior reporter at Foreign Policy, where he covers diplomacy and national security issues in Washington. He has reported from several geopolitical hotspots, including Ukraine, Pakistan, Malaysia, China, and Georgia. Prior to joining FP, John covered politics and global affairs for the Atlantic magazine’s news blog, the Atlantic Wire. In 2008, he covered the August war between Russia and Georgia from Tbilisi and the breakaway region of Abkhazia. He has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, BBC, C-SPAN, Fox News radio, Al Jazeera, and other broadcast outlets. He has been with the magazine since 2013.
With the Foal Eagle joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea drawing to a close, North Korea took a moment to reflect on the last two months — a period in which it declared a "state of war," voided its existing non-aggression pacts, and threatened a nuclear strike on the U.S. mainland. "All facts go to prove that the U.S. is the provocateur," the Tuesday edition of the North’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper concluded.
The paper’s defiant editorial reviewed a period following North Korea’s third nuclear test in which international sanctions gave way to a series of belligerent threats by Pyongyang that worried allies China and Cuba and sparked a U.S. escalation of the annual Foal Eagle exercises. The DPRK’s official outlets offered a unified history lesson.
"The U.S. persistent military provocations would result in escalating the political and military tough measures of the DPRK to cope with them," Rodong Sinmun explained.
Another editorial, featured in a Korean Central News Agency report, offered a similar reflection. "Foal Eagle was of very dangerous nature as it was staged against the backdrop of extreme anti-DPRK provocation campaign of the U.S. and the south Korean puppet forces," read the editorial. "Foal Eagle staged against the backdrop of the dangerous military moves which can be seen only on the eve of a war clearly suggested its alarming danger.’"
It continued. "At the prodding of the U.S. these forces recklessly cried out for meting out ‘punishment’ and ‘making strikes at bases of provocation and commanding force.’"
To be sure, the United States didn’t exactly turn the other cheek as Pyongyang’s threats piled up. The two-month-long drill involved a dazzling array of U.S. military hardware including a nuclear submarine, B-2 stealth bombers, F-22 fighter jets, and B-52 bombers — and about 10,000 U.S. troops and up to 200,000 South Korean soldiers.
But rather than add to the tough talk, U.S. Forces Korea marked the end of the exercises Tuesday with an innocuous statement on its Facebook page saying the exercise provided "valuable military training based on realistic requirements and missions, and [is] designed to improve the alliance’s readiness to defend the Republic of Korea."
Well, until next time!