Monday, August 01, 2005

More on Hans Island (Canada's Dokdo)

I wrote about the Hans Island dispute when I first heard if it. It is heating up. One bad sign for my side is that I have trouble learning why it belongs to Canada. The Danes wrote about their 1852 expedition to the area.

apparently, Canada and Denmark drew a line on the map with more than 100 waypoints but still the line goes through, or basically through the island. Will GPS prevent such errors from happening in the future?

The big problem for Canada is not Denmark but something that Denmark and Canada share (with Russia); a belief that Arctic waters are national waters, not international waters. Canada is trying to assert sovereignty and show the US and Europe that the waterway is Canadian. The Arctic is a Russo-Danish-Canuck pond, damnit!

When reading the Wikipedia article, I saw a familiar name. Kenn Harper, a writer living in Iqualiut, is/was involved in publicizing the dispute. I met him once and taught his son English and Geography at a private school in Canada.

In the Yahoo article, a Canadian in Korea (not me) is also quoted: One Canadian living in Korea felt as red-faced as the Maple Leaf by the territorial squabble on the shores of his homeland.
"How can I be proud when the second largest country in the world is being pushed around by some tiny little place in Europe?" said the writer, who signed his message, "Sincerely, feeling disgraced."

The distances involved look crazy to someone who has spent time in Korea. Almost exactly a year ago, there was a Canadian military exercise on or near Baffin Island. This upset the Danish government which felt Canada was flexing some muscle in the area. How near was the exercise to Hans Island? 2000 km. Man, I suspect the North Koreans would be thrilled if American exercises took place 2000 km away!

This is looking a bit like a round-up, so I might as well add another link. Rick Broadhead, who sounds a bit like a style-over-substance kind of guy (I don't know him from Adam - and, as a much lapsed Christian, don't know Adam, so maybe I'm judging him too quickly), has several links and supports Canada's claim to Hans Island. His pages plays the Canadian Anthem, which is soothing to any true Canadian but might be annoying to others.

- Unconnected to anything about Hans Island but to the post below this (not more links), would the meandering "Rick Broadhead...Hans Island." sentence above qualify for a Bulwer-Lytton Award?-

I don't know the proper venue for this kind of dispute. This is the Kashmir problem without the violence. A line on a map might be most of a kilometre wide. Maybe Canada and Denmark need to build a Panmunjung on Hans Island. One thing is for sure; if Canada wants to push it's weight around, it's time to actually spend money on the military.

4 comments:

Insider said...

For a roundup of what other Candaian (and some Danish) bloggers are saying about the spat go to Independents Sources: http://independentsources.com/2005/07/31/hans-island-spat-roundup/

Feel free to leave a comment or trackback there back to your post which is one of the most comprehensive that I've seen.

kwandongbrian said...

I'm blushing.

Honestly, most of my info came from the excellent Wikipedia entry.

The one thing I was able to bring to the issue is the knowledge learned from a similar Korean/Japanese dispute; that they look really rediculous (SP? I'm lost without spellcheck - it may be redeculus to call someone else ridiculos and spell it wrong).

More seriously, my belief in the rule of law and of rational political relations is taking a beating. I have no idea what kind of military might Denmark has but it shouldn't matter; what I want is a description of the real legal issues. Preferably, I would like them suitably dumbed down for a layman like myself, unless such simplification brings us back to the same blind flag-waving that I am protesting.

James said...

Canada is going to have to invade Denmark if they want to win this. We Americans would like to help you, but we're stretched a little thin right now and, besides, the Danes actually sent some troops for our little excursion in Iraq.

If Canada could hold off a little while, I imagine we'll be able to spare some Marines next year. If we're invading Denmark, I would choose late summer or fall when the weather is better. Now, it could be that we'll also be supplying some troops to Denmark in this fight. I hope that's alright with you guys.

kwandongbrian said...

I just don't know enough about Denmark to properly make fun of them. Maybe we could send Marmaduke and his ilk to Korea to be eaten.
If only the Dutch were the problem. They seem pretty shifty, what with their two names - who are they trying to hide from?

Your suggestion that we fight but that your country will help our opponents is a wonderful, subtle, veiled threat that seems so unusual coming from an American.