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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

THIS IS SERIOUS

We are at a very dangerous moment in the world.  Let me be clear.  It would be better if North Korea did not have nuclear weapons.  It would also be better if the United States, Russia, Pakistan, India, France, the United Kingdom, China, Israel, and Iran did not have nuclear weapons.  But they do [save for Iran, apparently], and there is no reliable defense against nuclear weapons, which means that mutual deterrence is our only hope for a world not devastated by them.  There is nothing special about North Korea.  It is just one more nation, the seventh by my count, that has chosen to invest money and effort in the old technology of deliverable nuclear weapons.

What can we do about North Korea?  The same thing we can do about Israel or France or Russia, and the same thing they can do about us:  we can make it clear that we do not challenge North Korea’s existence, and will respond to a nuclear attack with a nuclear response.  This is called Mutual Assured Destruction, appropriately referred to as MAD. 

Is there any way to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons?  Inasmuch as I do not speak or read Korean [although one of my books has been translated into that language] and have never been, I believe, within a thousand miles of that nation, I have not a clue, but I would guess not, since if they were to do so, the United States might very well undertake to overthrow the ruling government.


At this moment, we are dependent on a trio of generals to manage and control the impulsive narcissistic child in the White House.  That summarizes pretty succinctly the miserable state to which we have fallen.

11 comments:

Ed Barreras said...

Has an American president ever used the terms like "raining fire and fury" with regard to a nuclear-armed adversary? Now, evidently, we have a commander-in-chief who's willing to match the dialed-up rhetoric of the North Koreans. Very frightening indeed. NK missiles can't reach Southern California, can they?

Robert Paul Wolff said...

No American president has ever used such language, and yes, in a few years, or less, NK nuclear armed missiles will be able to reach Southern California.

Ed Barreras said...

Well, if ridiculously high rents don't prompt me to move, maybe the threat of incineration will....

howie b said...

Kelly, his chief of staff might be the man to muzzle Trump. Kelly who in fact was a general. Maybe Trump can be put under a regency until he comes of age.
News reports have suggested that staff routinely circumvent Trump because he is so erratic and out of control

David said...

No, this is not good. Trump threatens North Korea if they make any more threats, and North Korea promptly makes another threat. Let's hope this cools off--soon.

howie b said...

Trump has a little boy's awe of generals. They might have sway over his decision making- Kelly has already exercised operational influence over Trump. There is a pattern, that can't be guaranteed that Trump shoots off his mouth and people edit him. Now, this is thin ice in that in a nuclear standoff words go straight into action- but we'll see
There is room for terror but room for hope

F Lengyel said...

Time to update the Doomsday Clock.

LFC said...

This NYT piece, which I read except for the last few graphs, is quite interesting.


https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/08/world/asia/north-korea-un-sanctions-nuclear-missile-united-nations.html?_r=0


Points out that, rhetorically, the Trump statement echoes some of the tropes of the N Korean regime, which has multiple times threatened to engulf the U.S. or its attacking forces (in the event of an attack) in a "sea of fire." (Note what it said about Guam in the hours after the Trump statement.)

Surprisingly perhaps, the NYT piece quotes Joseph Nye, a v. mainstream pol scientist who's been around almost (not quite) as long as the proprietor of this blog (and who has served in Dem admins, not Repub ones), as saying that the Trump statement cd be a thought-out attempt to send a signal to Xi Jinping (in addition to NK presumably). I'm more inclined to think it highly irresponsible bluster, myself.

LFC said...

p.s. I can see the somewhat counter-intuitive article that some ambitious young IR scholar is already sitting down to write:


"'Sea of Fire' vs. 'Fire and Fury': Incendiary Rhetoric as a Nuclear-Crisis-Management Tool."


Boy, if that doesn't add a fillip to someone's tenure file, I'm not sure what would...

Jerry Fresia said...

What struck me was the folded arms. Seemed to be a different kind of body language.

Anonymous said...

I think Truman's rhetoric about using the atomic bomb is quite comparable:

"Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth."

http://www.kansascity.com/news/nation-world/article30215037.html