The Guns of Yeonpyeong

South Korea is preparing to conduct a fresh round of artillery drills from Yeonpyeong Island, a charming little fishing community noted for its delicious crab, friendly people, and smoking blast craters.  The North Koreans are looking forward to the new drills, because they plan to join in, promising “unpredictable self-defensive strikes will be made.”

The psychotic Communist regime claims “the intensity and scope of the strikes will be more serious” than the war crime they committed on November 23rd.  South Korea has previously said its retaliation for any further offenses will far exceed the intensity and scope of the brief return volley and air strikes they deployed last time.  Specifically, South Korean president Lee Myung-bak said “Enormous retaliation should be made, to the extent that North Korea cannot make provocations again.”

The Associated Press reports the South Korean military intends to proceed with its new tests, sometime between Saturday and Tuesday, depending on weather conditions.  Angry bluster from North Korea apparently doesn’t qualify as a “weather condition.”

The AP says the North “claims nearby waters waters, and has said it considers such drills an infringement of its territory.”  If they can dictate what South Korea does on Yeonpyeong, they’ve effectively claimed the island itself.  You don’t own property if someone else decides how you can use it, a lesson many Americans learn on a daily basis.

North Korea makes a lot of threats.  They were muttering about “nuclear war” before the joint U.S. – South Korean exercises, but ended up doing nothing.  The problem with Yeonpyeong is that it’s tough for the North to sit by and allow artillery drills to proceed now, after making a big show of how such an exercise previously justified the murder of civilians.  They can do it by saying these drills were conducted properly, with full compliance to the demands of the glorious people’s army and their Dear Leader, yadda yadda yadda.

Meanwhile, the South Koreans have little strategic choice to but ensure retaliation for further outrages really is “enormous.”  Too many civilians are in the line of fire.  North Korea sneeringly dismissed the civilian population of Yeonpyeong as “human shields.”  Well, there are a lot of “human shields” in Seoul and Inchon.

In the time since the final tense weeks of November, I’ve heard from military people who assure me our Air Force, working in concert with the South Koreans, can wipe out the gigantic line of North Korean artillery pointing at Seoul before it can do catastrophic damage to the civilian population.  If so, such a move would surely spell the end of the Kim regime – it wouldn’t last long with a decimated, humiliated military.  The guns of Yeonpyeong could trigger a chain of events that leads all the way to Pyongyang.  Such high stakes have caused barbarians to back down before… but not always.

The U.S. State Department is doing its best to keep everyone calm.  New Mexico governor Bill Richardson is currently in North Korea, making the latest of many diplomatic trips to the region.  He’s expected to be there through Tuesday, so he’s got a front-row seat to whatever happens next.