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Saturday, April 15, 2017


There is nothing any of us can do about it, but the situation developing with North Korea is very frightening.  It is terrifying to see an unstable man with his hands on nuclear weapons.  And then there is Kim-Jong Un. 

It appears, from a distance, that Trump is enraptured with the power to order airstrikes, unconnected with any coherent policy or understanding of the situation on the ground.  Should he order the use of tactical nuclear weapons, there will be no going back.  I have no idea whether the North Korean ruler is crafty or unhinged, but I think I can make a pretty good assessment of the American ruler, and nothing I see is at all reassuring.


s. wallerstein said...

Since I generally criticize something in your posts, let me say that I agree with what you say here completely.

Chris said...


Unknown said...


TheDudeDiogenes said...

Based on your experience, is the invocation by some in the media of the Cuban Missile Crisis apt? If the US launched a nuclear strike against North Korea, what do you think would be the reaction of the international community?

howie b said...

I am very disturbed by everything about this Trump. Very.
Rather than playing the psychologist by highlighting how insane and crazy he is, let's look at his past behavior- his modus operandi.
As a businessman (if he actually was really a real businessman,) his way of operating was to very aggressively threaten, often by use of lawsuits.
He seems to think the way to go in international relations is much the same, by threatening, with missiles and military prowess, often nuclear- like some Demitrius The Besieger, and no one in his cabinet is holding him back.
I think, if I'd guess and an optimistic guess it is, maybe overly optimistic at that, is that he sees negotiations and threats as two sides of the same coin.
In any case he is playing a dangerous game and Curtis LeMay must feel vindicated.
Somebody might be heading back to the stone ages pretty soon

Jerry Fresia said...

It's the worst moment since the Cuban missile crisis. Why is there not outrage around this from Congressional leaders and/or the media?

LFC said...

I sent an email to a few people about this, expressing the view that moving a US carrier strike force into the peninsula right now is a bad idea. A preemptive strike vs. N. Korea shd be a very last resort, if that, and the current situation does not come close to warranting it. (If one is ordered, it would be with conventional not nuclear weapons, but that would be bad enough.) My hope is that some in the Pentagon do understand the difference betw firing Tomahawk missiles vs a Syrian airfield on one hand and against N Korea on the other, even if Trump does not.

LFC said...

p.s. H.R. McMaster, Trump's nat'l sec adviser, should also know the difference.

s. wallerstein said...

Chomsky on Trump's latest military moves against Syria and Afghanistan.

Unknown said...

This is worse than the Cuban missile crisis. There was extreme recklessness on both sides then, but also a high degree of sanity. Both sides wound up looking for a face-saving way out, and they eventually came up with one.

There is no comparable degree of sanity here. No one is looking for a way out, for a solution that will not involve a loss of face--and I fear that both Kim and Trump would prefer war to appear to be losing face.

Any action against North Korea--conventional or nuclear--would mean millions and millions of deaths in South Korea. The North has enough retaliatory capability throughout the country to insure that they would be able to retaliate even as they go down in flames. Seoul--a city of 10 million people and a metropolitan area of about 25 million--is only a few miles south of the DMZ and within range of North Korea’s conventional artillery. The loss of life would dwarf Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And, the North might well be able to hit Japan as well, if not the West Coast of the US.

Unknown said...

A further thought: About 15 years ago, George W made his famous "axis of evil" remarks in a State of the Union address. The axis consisted of Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. He proceeded to invade Iraq. Iran and North Korea proceeded to ramp up their nuclear programs to insure that they wouldn't be next. They succeeded; we're still in Iraq--a place that is now and was then bereft of weapons of mass destruction.

Danny said...

I am distracted by the phrase 'Should he order the use of *tactical nuclear weapons*, there will be no going back.'

Is there some raging debate just over the horizon? I think we can agree that Trump rattled many Americans with comments during the campaign about nuclear weapons, he suggested that atomic arms might be an appropriate response to an Islamic State attack and that it’s good for a president to be “unpredictable” about nuclear weapons. He also said, referring to nuclear weapons in general, that “the power, the destruction is very important to me.” Thirty-four former nuclear launch control officers wrote an open letter during the campaign arguing that Trump “should not have his finger on the button.” As late as August 2016, one of Trump's foreign policy advisors said the incoming president asked at least "three times" why the US couldn't use its nuclear arsenal. Trump's oft-repeated statements on nuclear weapons also suggest that he does not understand the truly bewildering amount of taxpayer dollars the US has spent maintaining and improving its nuclear weapons systems.

I'm not so scared about North Korea, but I am scared anyways, like about Pakistan and India..

Danny said...

Apparently, I was thinking '34' as in 'thirty-four former nuclear launch control officers' because I remember when 34 officers entrusted with land-based nuclear missiles had been pulled off the job for alleged involvement in a cheating ring that officials said was uncovered during a drug probe. At Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana..

I have to correct myself, though, that only *ten* former nuclear launch control officers who once held the keys needed to fire on the president’s order have signed an open letter saying they think Donald Trump should not be entrusted with the nation’s nuclear codes..

howard berman said...

Dear Professor,

Trump is both crafty and unhinged, which complicates game theoretical models- there may be symmetry with North Korea, which is crafty and unhinged too probably.
Putting the whole crisis this way gives pessimism
I can see why you're distraught