Boarding ships in the Indian Ocean
 and giving credit to US allies
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The Spanish Navy had just boarded a North Korean ship in the Indian Ocean while patrolling the area as a part of the normal operations carried out by allied ships after the conflict started in Afghanistan. Apparently, the ship was sailing under no flag, but it was later found out that the crew was North Korean. Once the Spanish soldiers made in into the ship, they found several Scud missiles.

Date: Wed, 18 Dec 2002 06:31:10 -0600
From: Jesus Ortega
To: Tim Kramer
Subject: Re: about the North Korean ship seized

On Wed, Dec 11, 2002 at 01:28:57PM -0600, Tim wrote:
> J-
> What do you think the Bush administration should do about this?

Yes, this is precisely the case I was telling you about where the Spanish
Navy is involved.  There are a couple of questions I'd like to have 
clarified though.  

o What type of legal justification do all those boats have to carry out
  this sort of actions?  I am referring here not only to the American
  ships, of course, but also to the Spanish and Germans ones who are 
  patrolling the area.  They may have some sort of legal cover.  I am
  not sure.  However, if they don't, there is a good chance this type of
  actions should be categorized as "pirate" and unlawful assaults of
  foreign boats in international waters.  If that is the case, and at
  least legally speaking, this is no different than what the Chinese
  were accused to do with the American plane back a couple of years ago,
  with the only difference that it is happening in the water instead of
  in the air.

o What to do about the Yemeni ally?  In the first place, there is a good
  chance that the actions taken by the Bush Administration to sanction 
  the North Koreans for this activities while letting the Yemenis off
  the hook should be labeled as "hypocritical".  In other words, aren't
  these double standards?  "If you sell these missiles under the table
  and are not generally supportive of my policies, I will act against
  you.  On the other hand, if you purchase the missiles and enter in
  weapons trade agreements with members of the Axis of Avil but overall
  sort of support my policies, I will let you go".  
> by the way, this article does give credit to Spain for helping out
> in this interdiction.  Maybe it's just the conservative newspapers
> like the Washington Times who recognize that Europe *is* helping
> out?
> -T

All American newspapers are giving credit to Spain now that the issue
surfaced.  That's precisely the point.  CNN, "The New York Times', the
"Washington Post"... they are all giving Spain credit now.  However, some
of them are even publishing notes aside (or whole articles the day after,
like the NYT did) in order to explain what the heck were those boats 
doing there because they miserably failed to even tell the American
public opinion that they existed.  Again, this is a pattern that I have
noticed over and over here in the USA.  The public opinion (and the media
too) are so self-centered that the world does not exist beyond the American
borders.  Even worse, when there is an intervention abroad it is only the
American soldiers who are reported about.  There are some instances where
this borders the ridiculous.  For example, back in the Bosnia/Serbia
conflict, most Americans I talked to completetly ignored a few important

o The American fighters only represented about 50% of the fighters 
  involved in the operations against Serbia, the rest of the fighters
  mainly coming from Great Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and

o The American troops deployed on the ground were again less than 50%
  of the total amount of troops in the region (it was more like 30% or
  40%, as far as I can remember).  The rest of the troops came from the
  same countries mentioned above and a bunch others: Germany, etc.

o The American troops were always deployed in the back and only played a
  supportive role, mainly for transportation of goods and materials.  They  
  were never deployed in the front or the "hot areas".  That task was left
  to the British, Italian, French, Spanish, Dutch and German troops.  Of
  course, this also explains why those are precisely the troops that had
  quite a few mortal casualties that went completely unreported in the
  American press.  

As for your comments on how perhaps it is only the conservative American
media that gives European countries credit... well, this is the very same
conservative media that launches its own anti-European chants every now 
and then.  The same conservative media that calls us cowards, treacherous,
untrustworthy and anti-American by those or other names.  It is also,
incidentally, the same conservative media that publishes quotes like the
one you sent me a few weeks ago, praising the Eastern European countries
for being far more supportive than the Western Europeans in spite of the
fact that I still have to see Eastern European troops deployed anywhere
in support of the American military, be it either in a supportive role
or shoulder to shoulder.  The same cannot be said of Western European
countries, including the continental ones.  The fact remains that American
media is, just like Americans themselves, quite insular and self-centered.

By the way, there is an interesting detail that was recently published as
a consequence of this incident.  The country that has more soldiers deployed
out there in support of the US military right now is not Great Britain but
Germany.  Now, isn't that an interesting little fact?

Jesus Ortega