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!
Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge.| The E-Ring |
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a senior editor at The National Interest. Prior to Fletcher, he taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Drezner has received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard University. He has previously held positions with Civic Education Project, the RAND Corporation, and the Treasury Department.| Daniel W. Drezner |