Treating a Threat as a Tease

America, the most effective way of life and also the global order face a lethal threat. It is not verbal, it is not remote, no, it is immediate and physical.

The attempt to respond below is independent of the momentary state of the confrontation at posting time.

North Korea has stated in the most direct terms imaginable its intent to erase the USA. That regime has done more than to threaten. It issued a pledge. It amounts to a conditional declaration of war to become effective once the Stalinist-troglodytes are technically ready to strike.

Only one thing is more threatening than the nuked temper-tantrum of “Fat-Boy” –ironically the name of one of the three A-bombs of 1945. It is the response by America’s Trump-obsessed left-liberals, the “allies” in Europe and Asia, and myopic opportunists in Beijing and Moscow.

First to the parameters of the case. While there are many little things one can know, it is crucial to identify the “big things”. The first one of these is that, if someone voices his intent to destroy you, then you should believe it and not diminish it as a “tease”. Hoping that in time “it will go away” does not suffice: action is needed. Either wait for the butcher to convert you into ground round, or take counter measures. These range from developing your means and trust that they give security, to preventive punches. Be reminded, that most defeats of the modern era occurred after a period during which the “surprised” victim ignored clear signals of his intended doom.

To assess the danger, the prudent concentrates on the threat and will not be distracted by the insanity of its berserk source. Consider that an insane person with a torch in a wood paneled room is to be judged by the fire and not by his social adjustment. To excuse inaction, we like to dismiss oddly acting leaders as insane. However, Hitler was not crazy; he just had quaint ideas. Baby Kim, is normal and scores. He is a successful leader who outsmarted several Presidents – and also China and Russia. Kim’s high-flung goal may not be well chosen, however, the limited means used to punt against a naïve and indolent opposition is quite a feat -admittedly unmatched by the ability to feed his wards.

Attributed madness is a welcome excuse to justify inaction. The problem it brings is that, even if true, waiting-out will not make repair the condition. Furthermore, giving in to prove good intentions, does not moderate bellicose regimes. In fact, soothing concessions aggravate the malfunction of the mind. A Hitler quote makes the point. As he ignited the world war, he dismissed warnings by telling his worried entourage, “I saw them in Munich, and they are worms.” Needless concessions increased his appetite and confirmed that the decadent foe will never fight for his cause.

“Big thing” No. 2 is that, never before has a direct threat of nuclear annihilation been issued to respond to a claimed political wrong. Clearly, a nuclear potential got into irresponsible hands. Kim’s handling of the matter proves that, albeit from a shaky base, the world order is threatened. Lecturing a few years ago, your correspondent would have guaranteed to you that this would move the superpowers, regardless of their ideological differences, to crush the impostor. Implicitly, a nuclear first strike threat, while “unthinkable”, used to constitute an act of war. That the appropriate response is not happening reveals how unstable the global order is.

“Big thing” No. 3. Reducing nuclear war to an everyday policy response like a protest note, is beyond a mere novelty. Know that, if this is allowed to pass, a proliferation of nuclear threats will follow. Regardless of Fat Boy’s mental condition –he is a suicide bomber who believes in his immortality- we are all menaced by that prospect.

The threat’s magnitude is not reduced by the US being able to win, nor is it important that, according to the pundits, Kim is far from ready. It is also irrelevant that such predictions were consistently wrong. First, NK could not build a nuclear device. Then the lullaby told that it lacks the skill to convert it into a bomb. Thereafter, came the word that they cannot build rockets for the bomb. Following that, we had the inability to build an ICBM. The newest barrier between Armageddon and us is that the rocket’s heat shield is missing. Next, we will be promised a nice funeral.

Big Thing No. 4. It is a global bad habit to find creative excuses for procrastination. In this case, it is the allegation that acting on his promises is not in Kim’s interest. This is assumed to be a fact known to him, and that is converted into a reassurance that, therefore, he will not cross the last red line. While objectively, the “national interest” might be a constant that is independent of who governs, in the case of ideological systems this must not hold true. Ideologies are a reality replacement. When they enter a political equation, the rational consequence of the irrational world-view can be an action that is absurd to outsiders. The point: If something is irrational that does not mean that the “other side” will know that and that it will, therefore, desist.

Big Thing No. 5. In view of the global threat, a sane world would be able to resist in unity. Chillingly, this is not happening. The four major components of this opposition that could play a critical role are the USA’s internal politics, “Europe”, Russia, and China. If examined, all are found wanting.

The USA. America’s political class is more interested in overthoring Trump than it is in protecting lives. The petty, but added up, effective election-nullifying meneuvers to check POTUS reduces his ability to pitch the image of a resolute nation and diminishes the weight of his warnings. That weakens the non-military instruments by which pressure is exerted. Equally undermined is the freedom to switch quickly between the good-cop bad cop roles and the unpredictability of mixed messages that is among the few non-military means left to defuse the crisis.

Europe. Western Europe suffers from an old ailment; it wishes to be protected without paying the price of security. Blocking aggressors preventively involves risks. Thus, the hope here is that the far away crisis will, unlike twisters, not move closer. The desire to “be left alone” finds an expression in the anti-Trumpism, which is proclaimed to be the touchstone of morality and reason. The question “Kim or Trump: who is more dangerous?” is raised. Pyongyang will draw conclusions, because the juxtaposition works in Trump’s disfavor.

Russia and China. The fatal flaw of their comportment comes from an overrated short-term consideration and from a distorted future perspective. At the same time, overlooking the bomb ticking on their doorstep expresses myopia.

Take the last point: an enervated neighbor with a torch in your barn is, regardless of his size, the source of trouble. The more so once the PDRK managed to defy, with Chinese and Russian help, the United States. That success will not pacify, it will stimulate. That takes us to the matter of the alleged “myopia”.

Fat Boy gone wild is now to China and Russia not menacing misbehavior but a short-term opportunity. The man who swings the Bomb like a Neanderthal his club is, for the time being, raging against the USA. Kim’s dare weakens America; her attempt not to have to invoke military options brings a dependency on China’s and Russia’s good offices. This leads to two, for crisis management ultimately negative, tactics. The longer the contest, the greater the price that Washington will pay to avoid having to resort to war. Second, the US’ predicament weakens her. At least seemingly, Peking and Moscow can gain through the loss of their rival. To think that their power grows because America’s ebbs, ignores the nature of the nasty party that participates in the gain. Even so, “America’s trouble is our chance” is a tempting proposition.

On the long-run, regardless of the infectious disease’ momentary status, the global outlook is opaque. A North Korea is not only not worth a nuclear war, she is not worth the long-term benefits of a positive relationship with America. Furthermore, although the current conflict might involve Pyongyang only, if the trick works, as in the case of crime in general, there will be imitators. Some of these will target China and Russia. If good politics is, as the French say, the “ability to foresee”, then the sub-optimal management we experience is a cloud that casts a dark shadow over our future.



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