Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Not Reassured

Several security and international relations sages have said that we shouldn't worry too much about a war on the Korean peninsula, because reasons.  Those reasons break down into several broad and seemingly plausible categories:

- North Korea and the US engage in saber rattling quite frequently.
- The US is not on a war footing, including the lack of mobilization in Korea, no ambassador to Seoul and no global preparation.
- North Korea - while bellicose - has not been irrational in the past.

All of these are true, and all of them are quite possibly irrelevant.  Hair Furor and Kim Jong Un are the least tempered and calm leaders their countries have none in the modern era.  Kim is unbound by any norms and Trump acts like he is.  Their perception of crisis - its roots and solutions - are different than everyone else.  Both men are obsessed with "strength" as a posture rather than something more profound.

There are ample examples from history of wars that start because both sides assumed the other side would cave quickly.  Since exactly 72 years ago this week, world leaders who have had access to nuclear weapons restrained themselves from using them.  Nothing about these two whackaloons suggest they are familiar with restraint.

To be clear, I'm not saying war with North Korea is inevitable, but it is more likely right now that I can remember, with two variously desperate narcissists making the final critical decisions.

Hopefully, the weather stays nice in New Jersey so Trump can stay on the links, away from headlines like these and let the grown ups handle this.

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