During the Thanksgiving holiday, President Obama was playing basketball and received a swollen lip which required 12 stitches. The media is digging and trying to find out who gave the president a swollen lip and on the other side of the world, South Korea and the United States are implementing military exercises with the 70,000 ton aircraft carrier, USS George Washington accompanied by 10 other smaller warships.

This operation is a direct response of North Korea shelling the small island of Yeonpyeong, on Tuesday, November 23, 2010, which killed four people and destroyed dozens of houses. The North said it was responding to live fire from the South into its waters.

“The situation on the Korean peninsula is inching closer to the brink of war due to the reckless plan of those trigger-happy elements to stage again war exercises targeted against the North,” said North Korea’s news agency. “The army and people of North Korea are greatly enraged at the provocation of the puppet group of South Korea, if they dare encroach again upon North Korea’s dignity and sovereignty even in the least.”

President Obama and the United Stated have aligned itself with South Korea, and China has aligned itself with North Korea. There are 28,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, and the Pentagon is quick to point out the naval exercises are “defensive in nature.” The Pentagon also acknowledged that this joint exercise is a reminder of U.S. military strength and American’s allegiance with South Korea.

The Korean peninsula is a very complicated region, and the Yellow Sea impacts the borders of the country of China. China has been low-key with its response to North Korea’s shelling of the island, and there has been a flurry of diplomatic activity with the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and Chinese diplomats.

President Obama and China’s President Hu Jintao have a scheduled meeting in January 2011 in Washington DC, and a war between North Korea and South Korea would make the meeting extremely awkward. As a result, both countries are asking for restraint, and the world and the citizens of the United States are waiting for an official statement from President Obama.

China is protesting the United States and South Korea’s joint exercises following North Korea’s artillery attacks on Tuesday. China opposes any military operations near its territorial waters. “The Korean peninsula situation is highly complicated and sensitive, and all parties concerned should stay calm and exercise restraint,” said China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei in a statement.

As this tense situation continues, President Obama must walk on a tight rope, because China and the United States have common interest with the economic factor being the most important. The United States has a trade deficit with China of $226 billion and Chinese businesses are heavily invested in American markets. China needs American businesses and American businesses need the Chinese population to grow their business markets. The difference in ideological and government systems explains why the two countries do not trust each other and are neither friends nor partners.

The war exercises in the Yellow Sea started on November 28, 2010, and will last for four days. There are six South Korean War Ships and four other U.S. vessels: the USS Cowpens, USS Lassen, USS Stethen, and USS Fitzgerald. The participating forces will carry out firing and bombing drills, and these exercises will involve thousands of service personnel in the four-day drill.

No one can predict the outcome of this drill; however it is not helping to resolve the crisis and problems between South Korea and North Korea. Playing war games during a tense explosive situation can turn into an all out war where no one wins and everyone loses.

Check out Roger’s other columns at presidentobamawatch.blogspot.com

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