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September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘South Korea’

Samsung Korea VP Visits Yeshiva to Help Koreans Learn Talmud

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Charlie Park, Vice President of Samsung Korea, visited an Israeli Yeshiva at Shalavim last week, accompanied by a South Korean camera crew, and met with the program directors and with students to document how students study Talmud at the Yeshiva.

The South Koreans have developed a fascination with the study of Talmud. The country’s ambassador to Israel, Ma Young-Sam, has told the “Culture Today” TV show that Talmud study is now a mandatory part of the country’s school curriculum.

In addition, it is said, almost every home in South Korea boasts a Korean version of the Talmud, and mothers commonly teach it to their children, who call it the “Light of Knowledge.”

Young-Sam explained, “We were very curious about the high academic achievements of the Jews, who have a high percentage of Nobel laureates in all fields – literature, science and economics.

“This is a remarkable achievement. We tried to understand: What is the secret of the Jewish people? How are they, more than other people, able to reach those impressive accomplishments? Why are Jews so intelligent?

“The conclusion we arrived at is that one of your secrets is that you study the Talmud… We believe that if we teach our children Talmud, they will also become geniuses. This is what stands behind the rationale of introducing Talmud study to our school curriculum. I, for example, have two sets of the Talmud.”

While touring the Beit Midrash, the study hall, he said he now felt he understood “the growing grounds” of the Jewish genius.

Park was at the yeshiva to get a first-hand account of this wonder, but his trip also involved business. He was in Israel to review possible acquisitions of Israeli startup companies.

Deciphering the Chinese and American Korea Strategy

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Is there any piece of received wisdom more universally invoked than the inane piety that China wants to calm North Korea down, and gets annoyed when the Kims act up?  It’s hard to think of many.  This hoary premise gets trotted out every time.  And every time, it comes up short on explanatory or operational value.  It’s never relevant to why the Kim went crazy.  Nor is China coming down on a Kim ever the key to settling the Kim’s hash.  If the snarling Kim stops yelping for a while, it’s always because the U.S. was induced to do something – intensify some negotiating stance, make some offer, fork over some “aid,” make a concession to China; or maybe just look alert enough to make it the wrong time for a showdown.

You’d think someone would figure this out.  When the Kims start throwing food on the floor, somebody’s got an eye on Uncle Sam.

China’s Basic Posture

While it’s quite true that China sets boundaries on a given Kim’s latitude for geopolitical tantrums, it is wrong to suppose that China wants the same thing the U.S., South Korea, or Japan wants.  China is only interested in pacifying North Korea if events are not proceeding to China’s advantage.  If it is advantageous to China for the Kims to provoke responses out of the U.S., China will let the drama run its course.  (As discussed below, that is the case today.)

Conversely, it is equally wrong to imagine that China instigates what the Kims do.  The Chinese don’t have to make a Kim’s nonsense up for him; the average Kim is an indefatigable nonsense factory.  His natural intransigence and self-cultivated geopolitical alienation are useful for China – a convenience to be prized and guarded.

The Kim psychosis keeps the Korean peninsula divided, with one half of it joined at the hip to China.  For China, that is better than any other option – perhaps even better than the most unlikely one:  a united Korea joined at the hip to China.

The Chinese want to prevent, at all costs, the opposite situation: a united Korea allied with the United States and friendly with Japan.  But a united Korea would tend to be a pain in China’s neck in any case.  For the Chinese, keeping Korea divided is a pretty good option, especially when it’s the United States paying to guarantee that the division remains peaceful.  China couldn’t afford 60 years of guarding the DMZ.

The Obama Enigma

The underlying geopolitical structure for that assumption is starting to change, however, in part because of the deliberate, announced policy change toward the Pacific Rim on the part of the U.S.  But it’s also because, in the context of that new policy, no one is sure what Obama will do.  In visibly and enthusiastically rattling the saber at North Korea, he is not doing what previous presidents have done.  There is one exception – John F. Kennedy, abetted by Robert McNamara – and their pattern of behavior in foreign policy did not turn out well.

Obama’s pattern (Honduras, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria; the missile defense pull-out from Poland; the Obama nuclear policy and New START) is as confused as JFK’s, if not as bombastic.  Predicting what Obama means by the rather humorous “airplane escalation” in Korea – first the B-52s, then the B-2s, then, oh, no, not them, the F-22s – is something of a puzzler.  Is he trying to deter something?  If so, what?  Clearly, he’s not deterring Kim Jong-Un’s saber rattling or missile-launcher moving.

I was amused (yet again) to hear on the TV news yesterday that the U.S. Navy is moving one of its “mightiest warships,” USS John F McCain (DDG-56), to the waters off North Korea.  McCain is an Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyer, and as such is certainly mightier than the global-average destroyer.  But there are 61 other Arleigh Burkes, in total, and 15 others have the ballistic missile defense (BMD) upgrade that McCain has, including four other Arleigh Burkes homeported, like McCain, in Japan.  I’m a big fan of the Arleigh Burke, but I do wonder where the hyperventilating copy billing McCain as one of our “mightiest warships” came from.  I really hope it wasn’t a government office.

The question remains:  What is Obama hoping to achieve with these moves?  It’s like he’s doing an imitation of what he and other academic leftists perceive to be going on when nations come into conflict over something.  These leftists tend to characterize events in terms of nations “posturing” and “rattling the saber” at each other, with the implication that it’s all stupid, regrettable, and untethered to meaningful policy issues – and that it could be prevented with a little grown-up intervention.

The Shakiest Nukes in the West

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

In case everyone in Northeast Asia missed it, in spite of their intelligence and early-warning networks which have assuredly been tracking it in fine detail, the Obama Defense Department announced on Monday that the U.S. has been deterring North Korea by sending B-52 bombers on practice runs in its vicinity.  The specter of nuclear deterrence was clarified by Deputy Secretary Ashton Carter:

Deputy defense secretary Ashton Carter said during a visit to South Korea on Monday that the bomber flights are part of the U.S. “extended deterrence”—the use of U.S. nuclear forces to deter North Korea, which conducted its third underground nuclear test Feb. 12.

Nukes! I say.  Nukes!  Pay attention, dudes.

As Bill Gertz demurely puts it, “It is unusual for the Pentagon to make such overt statements about the use of strategic nuclear forces in Asia Pacific.”

Deterrence. Indeed.  That’s because such overt statements are a form of strutting and posturing that makes the U.S. look foolish.  Kim Jong-Un may be a weirdo who hangs out with Dennis Rodman, but he knows we have nukes.  North Korea wants nukes because the U.S., Russia, and China have them, and, in the crudest sense, they make us powerful – if not invincible, at least hard for anyone else to deter.

Making pointed comments about “extended deterrence” comes off as a novice’s imitation of what he thinks a tough security policy sounds like.  It’s kind of informative, in fact: this is what the political left thinks is necessary for achieving deterrence.  You have to remind everyone about your nukes.

It’s not like decision-makers in North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia, and China have been unaware of our big exercise with the B-52 participation.  Their radars track the B-52s all over the air space off the coast of Northeast Asia.  Each of them has a foreign-forces guide that informs every soldier and airman of the nuclear role played by the B-52 in the U.S. deterrence arsenal.  They fully understand what they’re seeing when the B-52s show up.

But to publicly emphasize the U.S. nuclear deterrent in this circumstance is misdirected anyway, if the deterrence target is North Korea.  For Pyongyang, evidence of the U.S. commitment to South Korea has been shown most effectively by our conventional military cooperation, which includes thousands of troops stationed in the South.  The nuclear threat is always implicitly there, but it isn’t needed to deter Kim Jong-Un.  We can take him down without going nuclear.  The audience for nuclear deterrence is Russia and China, and the point of it has always been to deter them from trying to settle the Korean situation themselves, to the detriment of our allies and interests in the region.

Is there any sense being fostered by anyone in the Obama administration that China or Russia needs special nuclear-deterring in the current situation with North Korea?  Does anyone at all, even outside the administration, think that’s necessary?  I don’t see that theme being retailed anywhere.  It makes no sense to rattle the nuclear saber at Kim Jong-Un.  But no case has been made that it ought to be rattled at Vladimir Putin or Li Keqiang either.

Nukes aren’t something you wave around like a drunk brandishing a knife.  The current situation has that feel to it, however.

Consider another aspect the situation. The Northeast Asian nations are sophisticated enough to understand: that U.S. nuclear-armed submarines are not sitting “near South Korean waters,” as claimed in additional South Korean news reporting cited by Gertz.  Sitting near South Korean waters would be pointless.  If a U.S nuke were ever launched at North Korea from a submarine, it would be launched from out in the Pacific by a ballistic missile submarine (SSBN).  We don’t have any other submarine-launched nukes today.

The nuclear Tomahawk missile (TLAM-N), formerly launched by attack submarines, was removed from U.S. ships and submarines in 1991 and put in storage.  Obama’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review recommended eliminating the TLAM-N from the U.S. inventory, and, as described by the Federation of American Scientists, the new 2013 version of the Navy’s baseline instruction on nuclear weapons contains no section on the TLAM-N.  This indicates that the TLAM-N is no longer in the inventory of nuclear weapons.

All tactical nuclear weapons having now been retired from the U.S. arsenal, there is no submarine-launched nuke that could be fired from a position “near South Korean waters.”  No one in Northeast Asia lacks the intelligence or resources to figure that out.  How did that impression get left with the South Korean media?

Perhaps the Obama administration imagines that it’s appropriate to pointedly warn North Korea about our nukes because Kim has a nuclear weapon himself?  The leap of logic here is fatal to stability, if that’s the thinking.  Even if Kim expended his one or handful of nuclear warheads, it is in the highest degree unlikely that we would use nukes on him, for the simple reason that it isn’t necessary.  If Kim getting one nuke causes the U.S. to begin treating North Korea like a credible nuclear power, then that one nuke has accomplished its purpose, and everyone else across the globe will want to try it.

There might be a neighborhood in which having a crude warhead or two makes one a member of an elite nuclear-armed “club” – but it isn’t Northeast Asia.  North Korea has not achieved the ultimate goal of the nuclear-armed dictator: invulnerability to deterrence.  Kim is still badly over matched in every way by Russia, China, and the U.S. – and, in fact, is over matched conventionally by South Korea and Japan as well, if it came to that.  It is unseemly and off-kilter for the U.S. to get into a nuclear showdown with North Korea.

There might or might not be utility in giving a bit of “informational” emphasis to our exercise series with South Korea right now, with the North being so obstreperous.  But there is no need to issue reminders of our nuclear capabilities.  Doing so, in fact, comes off as uncalibrated and a bit hysterical.

Originally published at the Optimistic Conservative.

Report: Israel’s Roads Among Developed World’s Most Congested

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

A report by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies shows that Israel has the second most crowded roads of any Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country, coming in under South Korea.

Israeli roads grew 70% more crowded between 1990 and 2008.

The report stated that part of the congestion is due to poor enforcement of laws protecting special bus lanes, and said that the rise in real estate prices in Israel’s largest cities is due in part to sluggish traffic.

South Koreans Visit Israel to Help Their Own

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai broadcasts from the offices of Nefesh B’Nefesh to talk about the visit of representatives from South Korea in order to gain knowledge regarding absorbing and matriculating large amounts of immigrants. Thousands of North Korean refugees have snuck across the border into South Korea and in order to assist, the South Koreans have looked towards Israel for guidance.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Israel Negotiating Acquisition of 4 Missile Boats from S. Korea

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

In a deal estimated at 400 million dollars, Israel’s Ministry of Defense is in the advanced stages of negotiations for the acquisition of four missile boats from South Korea. This deal, one of several large scale defense deals being carried out between Israel and this Asian country, is expected to repair the damage caused to the cooperation between the two countries after Israel’s purchase of training planes a few months ago from Italy rather than from South Korea, Maariv reported.

The deal was confirmed by a Korean source, while a source in the Israeli defense department told Maariv that several defense deals were being considered with South Korea, among them the acquisition of missile boats which would be built according to Israeli Navy specifications.

Over the past few months, the Israeli Navy has been exploring the possibility of acquiring updated missile boats from manufacturers all over the world. In the course of deliberations regarding the multi-year plan for equipping the Navy, there were demands for escalating the process in light of the new mission of protecting the off-shore gas drilling facilities in the Mediterranean.

Much tension existed between Israel and South Korea over the past few months. The Asian industrial giant was competing in a Defense Ministry tender for the purchase of 30 training planes by the Navy worth approximately one billion dollars. The two competitors for this tender were a South Korean and an Italian company. The Air Force considered the competition “very close” as both plane models were of high quality and suited the requirements of the Israeli Air Force.

Israel Listed as Second Most Educated in the World

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

24/7 Wall Street listed Israel as the second most educated country in the world, following Canada.

The list is as follows:

  1. Canada
  2. Israel
  3. Japan
  4. United States
  5. New Zealand
  6. South Korea
  7. United Kingdom
  8. Finland
  9. Australia
  10. Ireland

Read more: http://247wallst.com/2012/09/21/the-most-educated-countries-in-the-world/

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/time-lists-israel-as-second-most-educated/2012/09/29/

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