Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Clinton Announces New U.S. Sanctions On North Korea

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Speaking at a news conference in Seoul, South Korea, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on July 21 that the United States will impose new sanctions on North Korea. The impetus for the sanctions against the communist nation was strengthened by the North’s suspected torpedo attack that sank South Korea’s ROKS Cheonan on March 26, as well as by the Pyongyang regime’s failure to accede to international demands to reveal the details of its nuclear program.

Voice Of America News cited Clinton’s statement that the increased sanctions are designed to pressure North Korea to stop funding additional arms programs and spreading weapons of mass destruction and that they include targeting illicit money-making ventures used to fund such activities as well as the acquisition of luxury goods desired by the communist state’s elite leadership. 

“Let me stress that these measures are not directed at the people of North Korea, who have suffered too long due to the misguided and maligned priorities of their government,” said Clinton. “They are directed at the destabilizing, illicit and provocative policies pursued by that government.”

Clinton also reinforced the U.S. commitment to defending the South against aggressive military action by Pyongyang: “We continue to send a message to the North: There is another way. There is a way that can benefit the people of the North. But until they change direction, the United States stands firmly on behalf of the people and government of the Republic of Korea, where we provide a stalwart defense along with our allies and partners.”

Secretary Clinton was joined during her visit by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as the two cabinet members met with their South Korea counterparts to discuss what many view as a rising security threat from the North.  

During the news conference, a reporter asked Gates if North Korean leader Kim Jong Il — whom many view as unpredictable as his health declines — might endorse radical actions in order to strengthen his youngest son, Kim Jong Un’s, path to his succession.

Secretary Gates responded:

 “There has been some indication over the last number of months that as a succession process gets underway in the North that there might be provocations, particularly since the sinking of the Cheonan.”

CBS News reported that Gates arrived a day earlier than Clinton, and announced on July 20 while with South Korean defense minister Kim Tae-young that the United States and South Korea would proceed with four days of joint military exercises starting on the 25th. The USS George Washington aircraft carrier arrived in the South Korean port of Busan on July 21 to take part in the exercises.

CBS noted that the U.S. stations 28,500 soldiers in South Korea and routinely holds joint military drills with the nation.

Both cabinet members visited the truce village of Panmumjom in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that has divided the two Koreas since fighting ceased in 1953. The two nations remain officially in a state of war because the conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

Bloomberg News reported that Secretaries Clinton and Gates used binoculars to look across the DMZ at North Korean troops stationed opposite South Korean forces along the world’s most heavily armed border.

“It struck me that although it may be a thin line, these two countries are worlds apart,” observed Clinton.

Speaking at Camp Casey in South Korea on July 20, Gates said that the trip to the DMZ was intended to “highlight how important operations are there to the security of the peninsula as well as the region,” according to a Pentagon script. “The incredible prosperity, freedom, and vitality you see outside the gates of this camp and throughout the South are the result of a steep price paid in blood and treasure by both the United States and Korea and our other allies.” (Emphasis added.)

Secretary Gates did not explain which provision in the U.S. Constitution empowers the U.S.military to pay a steep price “in blood and treasure” for the defense of any nation other than the United States.

Nor have any of our leaders been able to reconcile the undeclared wars in Korea, Vietnam, or the Middle East with the following quotes from our nation’s Founders:

• “The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.” — George Washington, 1793

• “The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature ... the executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.”   — James Madison, 1793

• “The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it.  It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war to the Legislature.”  — James Madison (letter to Jefferson), c. 1798.

• “The Congress shall have the power to declare war"; the plain meaning of which is, that it is the peculiar and exclusive duty of Congress, when the nation is at peace, to change that state into a state of war.” — Alexander Hamilton, c. 1801

Photo: U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, center, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, right, look through binoculars toward North Korea during a visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), on July 21, 2010 in Panmunjon, South Korea: AP Images

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