Were the North Korean and Chinese interception of US spy planes legal?

Weren’t the North Korean observing too? just they did it real close. Probably they wanted to exchange email address with Americans.

First of all, the “interception” was most certainly a big deal, at least according to the Pentagon, White House, etc.

Second, it is unconfirmed whether the target was actually locked:

NY Times:


Clearly the fact that Korean planes intercepted the RC-135S was a big problem; that they were about to “lock on” does elevate the threat.

But to say it would have been “no big deal” if they had merely “shadowed” the plane is wrong.

If it were such a “big” deal, why there’s nothing getting back to them yet?

Yeah, big deal. indeed.

They have shot down American “surveillience” planes before.


This is the first time the North Koreans have done that since 1969. That’s a pretty big deal.

You mean aside from the formal protest intended? I suppose there’s no need for “getting back to them,” as we had already planned to send 24 long-range bombers to Guam to “send a message.” Which is now on its way…

Oh, but the good news is that these deliberate and provocative acts by N. Korea may finally convince Russian and China that it is a dangerous, rogue nation, capable of massive destruction on the Asian continent (and quite possibly elsewhere).

So World War III is coming? hmmm…

Glad I live in the East coast.

So World War III is coming? hmmm…

Glad I live in the East coast.

You live in the East coast? Where exactly is that? Under a rock somewhere??

Yeah, yeah, like they are going to believe the Bush imperialism.

Sematics is not going to change what they were doing there. They were trying to acquire information denied to them by the other side. This is exactly the same as spying.

Now this kind of information gathering activities is “legal” not because it is explicitly permitted, but not outlawed. Neither is locking a fire-control radar on a plane.

Furthermore, everybody knows that fighters don’t have the range. Even if you play a game of mid-air refueling, the other side can simply send out more fighters.

Do show me how.

You don’t think 5 carrier groups might be useful in the Sea of Japan?

While obviously locking on is a aggressive at the least, and plausibly labeled as hostile, I can’t quite figure out the logic required to say that the interception itself is “most certainly a big deal.”

You’re flying a surveillance plane in international airspace using sophisticated technology to acquire information being “freely broadcast” (in spite of the fact that you can’t hear it without the spy plane), and this is not a big deal, this is merely surveillance, and it’s fine, anyone should be perfectly happy to submit to it.

They’re flying a military jet in international airspace in proximity to your plane. Ignoring the targetting lock for a moment, which I agree is threatening behaviour, but which hasn’t been confirmed as happening, what exactly is the problem here? It’s unreasonable to be upset about being spied on (surveilled, whatever), but not unreasonable to be upset about having your spy plane tailed?

There’s a word for attitudes like that. It’s called hypocrisy.

Doesn’t seem to do anything to Iraq, I cannot see how it makes a difference for DPRK.

I’m so deep in sarcasm here, I can’t tell if you are an optimist or are surreptitiously tearing the Russians and Chinese a new one.

Urban Ranger: Would you still think having five carrier groups in the area was irrelevant if, say, North Korea attacked South Korea?

Sorry, let me be clear:

The American Government (my gov’t) believes that this “interception” – regardless of whether a target was locked or not – is “a big deal.” Whether this is hypocritical or not is up to you to decide (and voice, wherever you see fit).

And yes, I’m an optimist. I do not believe in isolationism; our “allies” (particularly in this day and age) are exceedingly important to the cause of furthering peace in the world. We cannot do it alone, and it annoys me to no end that many believe we can and should.

Don’t count myself in that last category please leander, my friend. Not for a minute do I believe that any one country on earth has a mortgage on common sense or righteousness.

Moreover, I’m proud to be an Australian for the following reason - we’re one of only 5 countries on the planet which had continuous, uninterrupted stable democracy for the ENTIRE 100 years of the 20th century. We’ve had to pay some heavy prices for our beliefs in defending such ideals - most of which have been battlegrounds which had very little to do with us directly, but the cost of sticking up for your beliefs in freedom and democracy means putting your troops into harms way on occasions in places far, far away…

My point is this - America has NEVER been alone in her efforts to defend the principles of democracy - not once in the entire 20th century. Time after time, we Australians have stepped up the plate to lend a helping hand. And we’re not alone either. Canadians, Britons, Kiwis - you name 'em - they’ve all put their finest young men in harm’s way when America been involved in a stoush.

The assertion that the USA is fighting to “save the world” all on it’s own - without anyone else to help is such utter “bleeding heart media bullshit”.

Any American military person in a “Senior Capacity” who has ever served overseas will tell you at the drop of hat how impossible it would be for the USA to function at a military level the way that she does - if it WERN’T for the assistance of other nations - day in, day out, 365 days a year.

Unfortunately, the majority of civilian Americans ONLY get their news from cozy American TV broadcasts. And if there’s a more insular, self-flagellating news service in the entire Western World than US Commercial TV News, I can’t imagine where it would be.

Of course, my wonderful American friends who read and post on this message board are an entirely different breed - well read and thoroughly worldy. The perception that “America acts alone” just doesn’t cut it on this postboard.

Now… all that being said…

Someone mentioned earlier that they perceive the North Korean situation as being the greatest crisic since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Gee, you know, that’s a big call. I’ve thought about it and quite frankly - here’s my spin on it…

Everybody knows that NK is living on credit - it’s living way, WAY beyond it’s means - and sooner or later all that military buildup etc is gonna have to get paid for. We don’t know much about what goes on in NK - being the closed up place that it is - but we HAVE heard about the dreadful famines there over the last 5 years etc. Any country that lets a famine happen while they’re building ICBM’s and nuclear program has TOTALLY got it’s head in the wrong place.

Ultimately, I see an awful lot of parallels between North Korea and the Soviet Union in the dying days of trying to prop up the Warsaw Pact against the incredibly superior spending power of NATO. My understanding is that Soviet pride, and nothing else, propagated the Cold War for at least 10 years longer than it needed to - simply because they refused to lose face and admit they couldn’t keep up.

North Korea is much the same. Yes, they’re nuts - inarguably. But oddly, the regime’s biggest threat will end up coming from within. The only reason they’re able to brainwash all those millions of poverty stricken folks is because of how thoroughly tight they control the media WITHIN North Korea.

Eventually, the internet will reach NK’s citizens - and then, those youngsters will start talking to similiar youngsters around the world - and the truth will filter INTO North Korea - and it will be the youth who will overthrow the regime… not the USA, not South Korea, nor China…

All the USA has to do is simply reduce her exposure and play the waiting game - just like in the days of NATO vs the Warsaw Pact. Indeed, the wisest course would be to “downplay” her military presence and use some wicked statecraft to get the Chinese to influence North Korea more forcibly.

Hmmm… 2008 Olympics anyone? How incredibly passionate were the Chinese about winning the rights to host an Olympics? They were obsessed with it… imagine a few subtle hints like “Dear China, start getting the North Koreans to play ball or absolutely zero coverage by US Television will take place at the 2008 Olympics - in fact, not a cent will change hands and reach the IOC. Take the matter up with the IOC then…”

Nothing, absolutely nothing, would freak out the Chinese as much as some form of threat to their beloved Olympic Games. They would die to see their Olympics become devalued by boycotts due to poor politics on their part.

Boo Boo Foo – My God, what a wonderfully naive sensibility you have. I am glad that you feel so patriotic about Australia and its role in world affairs. Jingoism is clearly not a singularly American trait.

However, do not for one second overestimate your country’s role in the struggle for democracy. Most Australians do not. I am not trying to disparage Australia or Aussies, but please do not aggrandize your country’s contribution to the fight for freedom. That is not, of course, to say that Australia has not contributed; but to argue that one country has (or has had) equal power or influence is ridiculously naive.

America will continue to operate as it sees fit, regardless of international support or retribution. That is the power of money and might. Unfortunately, in this day and age, what cannot be argued can be bought, or coerced, or simply ignored.