Joshua PollackInstitutional Memory

According to David Sanger in the NYT, some folks in the Administration are thinking very carefully about the intelligence problem in interdiction:

Pentagon officials are clearly not eager to confront the Kang Nam 1. The intelligence about what is on board is typically murky. Some say they suspect small arms, which are banned by the United Nations resolution but hardly a major threat. Members of Mr. Obama’s team who served in the Clinton administration remember past embarrassments, including the interception of a Chinese ship suspected of carrying chemical precursors in the early 1990s. When the ship was finally cornered, the cargo turned out to be benign.

That’s the Yinhe incident, for those of you keeping score at home.

X-posted from TW.


  1. J House (History)

    If prohibited materials are suspected to be on board, it should be boarded and inspected…so the UN resolutions are enforced.

    Does the U.S. really fear a war breaking out with NK over a shipboard inspection?

    Decades before this, NK has already hijacked a U.S. ship and kidnapped a U.S. crew and the U.S. did not retaliate militarily.

    One starts to wonder who the ‘superpower’ really is in this stand-off?

  2. Anon

    If you’re in doubt board it.

    BTW, “Pueblo, still held by the DPRK today, officially remains a commissioned vessel of the United States Navy. It is currently located in Pyongyang, where it is used as a museum ship.”

    If we had any b——, we’d sink it or bring it home.

  3. Azr@el (History)

    There is a reason we don’t allow children to set policy. If we boarded a DPRK vessel in international waters then we establish an undesired precedent voiding flags at sea. For the kids in attendance that means a flagged vessel in open waters would no longer be considered the sovereign property of the flag nation. Such a state of affairs would increase shipping insurance as third world states short on cash begin “boarding” operations. And god forbid we start boarding the ships of some ornery state such as the IRI; recall it’s much cheaper to start sinking commercial ships than it is to build or protect them. Remember when we “accidentally” downed an Iranian Airbus; it was a bad time to fly afterwards as commercial planes started having their own “accidents”.

    We have rules not because we like rules, we have rules because it’s easier to get people/nations to follow rules rather than the force them to accept what we want at gunpoint. And for those who think of starting a war on the Korean peninsula to avenge the pride of some old hulk of an elint ship, perhaps you should pay more attention to Iraqis celebrating our withdrawal from their cities as evidence that U.S. power, while very great, still has limits and there are most definitely bridges that are just too far.

  4. George William Herbert (History)

    Let’s not start a shooting war over an incident that happened many decades ago.

    We could equally well bomb the former US embassy in Tehran (under international law, remains US territory), by redesignating it a bombing test target, and obliterate it and the revolutionary museum currently housed there.

    Neither of these would help the situation in any way. Regardless of the international law, these would be seen by the target countries as acts of aggressive war and responded to in kind. If we’re going to launch wars with them, bombing museums for the hell of it is a waste of firepower and a distraction.

Pin It on Pinterest