Peter Van Buren: Sorry, No War in North Korea

I’m so sorry to disappoint so many people, but there is not going to be a war with North Korea.

No, no, Trump is not going to start a war there. And, no, Kim Jong Un is not going to start a war there. It is not going to happen, despite a cottage industry of pundits who seem to really believe war is only moments away.

Let’s start with the obvious. A war on the Korean peninsula benefits no one and is really, really bad for everyone (we’ll get to the irrational madman theory in a moment.)

Any conflict means the end of North Korea, and the end of the Kim dynasty. The U.S. will win any fight, nuclear or not, and Kim and everyone with any power or money in the North knows that. North Korea has no reason to start a war that will end in its own destruction. The people there with power and money do not want to give those things up.

South Korea, same thing. They will also be destroyed in whole or in part, and, should much survive in the south, they will also get stuck with the mass of refugees flowing out of whatever is left of North Korea. China will not want war for much of the same reason, plus the loss of the buffer state the North represents, plus the desire not to have a smoking radioactive ruin on its border.

The U.S. does not want war because of all of the above, the likelihood that ally Japan will get trashed along the way, the likely global economic depression that will follow and/or because no one in Washington will bet the house that the North Koreans don’t have a submarine that might get close to Hawaii, a way to deliver a dirty bomb somewhere, or that a glow-in-the-dark North won’t spark off a worldwide radioactive climate crisis.

Because see, how unlike every other shooting war of the last 70 years including everything in the Middle East, war on the Korean peninsula is different. North Korea is a nuclear state, and that changes everything. Deterrence works, it really does. Ask the Cold War about that.

And that leaves us with the madman theory, the idea that either Trump or Kim or maybe both are irrational, impulsive crazy people who could just one night say, to hell with it, let’s push the button. The problem with this theory is that nothing in history supports it.

The Kim dynasty has been in power some 70 years, three generations. They have weathered conventional war, sanctions, and numerous war-like acts. They have dealt with famine. They survived the fall of the Soviet Union and generations of American governments. They did not act irrationally. You don’t stay in power for seven decades acting irrationally or impulsively. You stay in power and hold your own against multiple superpowers by careful actions and good choices. There is nothing – nothing – to support any contention Kim might act any more irrationally than his nuclear-armed dad did.

Sorry to say it, but same for Trump. You hate him, I know that. He is not bright. But same as Kim, he has decades of actions that show he knows how to handle things. He ran a company, he made money, he got himself elected president. He’s been in office now some 100 days and absolutely none of the apocalyptic predictions people have been puking up on the Internet since November have happened.

And sorry to again mess with what movies have taught you, but both Trump and Kim are surrounded by complex command and control systems. They literally cannot just do what you think they can do, wake up for cocoa and push a button like Dr. Evil and start WWIII.

So relax. There are other things to worry about. Say a Chernobyl-like nuclear accident in North Korea that sends millions of refugees into South Korea and irradiates Japan as air currents blanket Tokyo with glowing dust.

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. His latest book is Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent. Reprinted from the his blog with permission.

91 thoughts on “Peter Van Buren: Sorry, No War in North Korea”

    1. I agree. “Look, these are mad men but they’re never gonna do anything mad.”

      Actually, that’s what mad men do – obliterate themselves in the end by being _too_ mad.

      1. Ironically, every one of his opponents appeared even crazier. Bernie supports regime change in Syria…

        Rand had to drop out early to protect his senate seat.

        Trump doesn’t appear mad. He appears manipulated by others. He’s trusting the wrong people. If you watch when Trump replies on foreign policy: He doesn’t know what’s going on. The president appears almost entirely removed from the foreign policy scene.

          1. I think he’s trusting the wrong people. I don’t believe they have dirt on him.

            Often Trump appears clueless about what’s going on. He has delegated out authority on foreign affairs.

            If he wants, I can give him a list of libertarians, paleocons, trade protectionists, and other scoundrels to fill his ranks at the WH. I could even think of some Leftists who’d fit in with his America First ideals, ironically.

      2. As long as Kim Jong-un hasn’t obliterated himself then by your definition he isn’t mad. He is 33 years old. He has been supreme leader for more than 5 years. Did someone put a nail in his forehead that is going to change his thinking in this fine year of 2017? I am persuaded by Van Buren that the answer is “No Kim is not any different now than he has been in the last 5 years of his life.”

    2. I would agree – or hope to agree – with Van Buren. However, it is not Trump or Kim that we should worry about, but the hated NEOCONS who demonstrably ARE crazy enough to get that button pushed. Look at their actions up to now which has seen NATO bases surround Russia (after promises never to do that), and blatantly tweak the noses of nuclear-tipped N Korea, Russia, and China to the point (as Dr. Stephen Cohen puts it) we are now at the most dangerous time in US-Russia-China relations since the Cuban Missile Crisis. If I have learned anything in politics it is never underestimate just how unhinged the NEOCON brain is, or can be.

          1. Simply that you sound alarmed and you have no suggestion for what to do about the alarming neocons. I have family that watches the Rachel Maddow Show regularly and they say RUSSIANS the same way you do NEOCONS. People in an alarmed state of mind get others in an alarmed state of mind. You are far more likely to re-act than act.
            I recommend that you let go of your alarmed state of mind.

          2. I personally can’t do anything about the Neocons – who ARE a real threat, and certainly not an imagined one or not to be taken very seriously.- but I can warn/educate others about their destructive and dangerous tendencies. Their track record over the last 25 years is both documented and accessible. Anyone who truly understands the history and nature of the hated Neocons WOULD BE “alarmed,” and should be…,including you.

            These men and women are perpetual Cold Warriors who cannot function – either personally or professionally – unless they are drumming up wars and conflicts. They both NEED and WANT Russia, China, N Korea, Iran, et al, to be our perpetual enemies because it feeds their personal/professional gains. These people are not only unhinged, but they actually believe the US can instigate and win a major war with Russia, China, N Korea, or all of them at once…,including a nuclear war.

            The preeminent Russian expert, Dr. Stephen Cohen, has stated as much concerning the Neocons, and stated the other day “we are in a period of anti-Russian relations (including China and N Korea) more dangerous than the Cuban Missile Crisis. And we owe a great deal of that to the continued actions of the Neocon cabal in this country.”

          3. I have no idea what you’re talking about. As for my “alarmed” state of being you insist I’m in, all I can say is everyone SHOULD BE alarmed by the warmongering demeanor of Neocons because – thanks to Trump – are now back in power and dragging us back into more wars and conflicts (which is all they know how to do)!

  1. “and irradiates Japan as air currents blanket Tokyo with glowing dust.”

    Tokyo has already been blanketed with irradiated “glowing dust” due to the triple reactor meltdowns that occurred on 11Mar2011 and the on going environmental disaster at Fukushima Daiichi which is still discharging thousands of tons of highly contaminated ground water into the ocean daily.

    Can the US government articulate even one national security interest at stake on the Korean peninsula?

    South Korea has double the population and a GDP greater than 50x’s that of North Korea. South Korea is more than capable of defending itself without the need for the US.

    If the US government allowed the North/South Korean governments to reconcile during the 1990’s early 2000’s under the Sunshine peace initiative policy there would be no nuclear saber rattling in 2017.

    The crux of the current Korean peninsula crisis (which has been manufactured in large part by the US) is the US government believes that it cannot afford to be seen as losing face in being forced to roll back the outer frontier of Pax Americana in Asia.

    Perhaps it is time for the people of South Korea to act in unison and force the US government to leave following the example set in the Philippines during the early 1990’s.

    1. Exactly what was going to happen during the reconciliation? Do you think the gang ruling the North was going to give up its power? Was the South going to adopt some of the ways of the North? Go fly your black helicopter.

      1. Raimondo has 2 recent articles on Korea explaining how relations had been better.

        All that’s needed is for the US to leave.

      2. How many times has North Korea actually invaded any other countries? The answer is ridiculously easy. Now, the U.S. Army is still quartered on the civilians of every nation which was ‘blessed’ with Regime Change. As for a gang of thugs, yeah. In North Dakota the National Guard and Police were acting as mercenaries for the Energy Transfer Partners and still are, and one of the heinous crimes the pigs did was blow the arm of a peaceful demonstrator, a retired Air Force medic. Making war on their own civilians, isn’t that what Iraq and Syria are accused of doing? Oh, and North Korea. Right now the U.S. propped up South Korea regime are arresting and beating “their own civilians” for opposing the THAAD missiles, on behalf of their Great Protectors. I really don’t see freedom in that. Nor the way the American police chained and then beat me for “talking back”, there’s no freedom in that either. The Animated Sphincters who keep saying all ‘our’ wars and police actions were to protect us and our “freedom”? They straight up lie because they’re too cowardly to ever question the government we allegedly elect and definitely bankroll.

      3. 30 years ago nobody thought the gang that ran the USSR was going to give up it’s power either. But guess what? They did without even a shot being fired. But people apparently are incapable of learning the lessons of history. American’s have been brainwashed into believing that the answer to every problem is to bomb and invade. Using that logic I guess we should bomb and invade Flint, Michigan. Speaking of Flint, maybe we should spend more time and money fixing our own problems instead of intervening in everybody else’s.

    2. I don’t want to argue with about most of what you have to say, but whatever they spill from Fukushima is one of the smallest problems on earth. Since the Pacific Ocean weighs 165 000 trillion tons, a spill of 1000 tons equates to 1 ppm of one ppm of one ppm of stuff that decays rapidly.

  2. Every war ever fought has been irrational, and run by men who had the experience to know better. “Nobody wants to be the first to draw the sabers they’re rattling”, maybe it has stalled or outright made the potential wars disappear. But the times they didn’t stop at threats have been a vast broken landscape filled like an evil lake with the blood and rotting flesh of human beings. And all other life that lived there before. I’d say the weapons of Peace have far outnumbered the forces of War, MOST of the time. But I can’t prove a negative.

    And the times War overcame Peace, well.. the hopes of peace and the supremacy of logic were expressed before the War, that none of the combatants will be the first to draw the sword. That they’re reluctant to do so because they — from the treasure of long experience — knew better. Mr Trump and those under his command have already launched attacks, and are putting more soldiers and more weapons into the lands they have threatened, or onto the borders of those countries and nations. There is violence in America against Americans and much of it is directed from, or ordered by, the White House.

    The best examples I can recall quickly of what goes horribly wrong are the two wars designated as “World”, where the M.A.D. deterrence failed, the press and popular sentiment was the huge preparedness for war would prevent it, because nobody would be stupid enough to fire the first round. The guerrilla theater and brushfire wars would somehow prevent the larger ones.

  3. Drivel.

    And the idea that Trump hasn’t done any of the stupid things he promised is not true. He’s reneged on getting along with Russia, he’s attacked Syria for no apparent reason (no, a chemical attack that was a false flag is NOT a good enough reason), and he’s just about followed the Bush-Obama-neocon line down the line.

    So this article is drivel.

    1. or a good enough reason to get discussions going. I witness some really pathologic nonsense on a daily basis, and let it inspire me to write what I hope are good counters to the madness. I suppose that’s what most people do.

    2. Trump was never going to get along with Russia. There were going to be too many policy differences.

      1. There are plenty of reasons why the US government should get along with Russia and China. If only the US government could narrow its military focus to protecting the 50 US states and its embassies much could be accomplished advancing world peace and prosperity. Whether such concepts are important to the powers that be when they are lobbied and inhabited by people that benefit by war and strife is the prime question to be answered.

    3. I don’t see that Donald Trump ever promised to get along with Russia. He certainly has attacked and invaded Syria with no good reason that I would agree with. I think it is a mistake to simply presume that he follows neocon line though I do admit that the case can be made.
      My best hope and my weakest point is that I still have hope that Donald Trump can change his position if he chooses to. More the fool I?

  4. Remove Kim and all those loyal to him – give N. Korea to S. Korea. Problem solved. Does anyone here realize the level of human suffering going on on N. Korea EVERY DAY? How can you argue that it is “okay”? Let’s get this done because, if we do, EVERYBODY WINS.

    1. Did you even read the article. IF so go back and re-read it. Then give it some more thought before you continue to write the the crap you just wrote. Here is an idea Texas…YOU can be the Rambo that crosses the border into K Korea to retake it.

      1. Sounds like you have some personal issues you are unable to work through and you should get some help – it’s not my fault that the politicians sacrificed US soldiers in Vietnam. N. Korea could be taken in a day with zero US casualties. Feel free to disagree, but that’s just reality and yes, it would be just that easy. Maintaining the status quo is no longer an option – there is a massive power dynamic change about to occur in this unstable world.

        1. Zero US casualties? War is never so simple.

          Almost no revolution works out as you describe.

          I had hoped Trump could reunite Korea, but reunification would involve the US exiting the scene. We have troops in 177 foreign polities right now. That is an empire. We are still occupying Germany!

          America First means taking all the money that’s wasted on empire and dumping it in America, to be stolen on some foolish infrastructure project here.

          1. “quartering soldiers at the expense of the civil population” and I know it’s not expressed that way As An Exact Quote of the bill of rights (Which the Convention rejected in the first version of the constitution, it’s why they’re the first ten amendments.). The concept remains. The Seoul Government is currently beating down “their own” civilians for not cooperating with the U.S. puppetmasters.

            The British Army at least was reported to pay the colonials whose homes and other properties on which soldiers were quartered. Sort of like the way drafted soldiers are actually paid, but that’s a start.

          2. US soldiers aren’t living in S. Korean houses are they? They should be on the base.

            South Korea seems to want the US there. Okinawa sure wants the US gone though.

            We pay S. Korea a lot via our bad trade deal. Or well, tax payers pay; our government masters just chuckle at their game of empire.

          3. Not forcibly quartered in private homes, but an extension of the concept. To set up the THAAD batteries and bases, and the Naval bases for the Zumwalt class destroyers, land and water and fisheries are being co-opted by Daddy Knows Best or Big Brother or however it’s sliced. They could call a salad prime rib and it wouldn’t change the nature of the meal.

            Jeju Island is one really prime example. Cemetery issues, religious and cultural lands, private farmlands, all served up under the global militarized version of a Utility Right of Way or eminent domain. One thing the Army did here with the DAPL was try to dig out a burial ground and the Medicine Wheel at Standing Rock. The equivalent, really, of the Dome of the Rock, Solomon’s Temple, Herod’s Temple, and the Vatican all razed to build airfields.

            And the people aren’t happy smiling thank-you-sir-may-I-have-another about it Veterans For Peace and Space4Peace have some really huge documentation of that resistance.

            The CoE has a long rich heritage of doing that. They use a few statutes signed into law the same day as Emancipation by Abraham Lincoln. Public Utilities Act, Railroad Act, and the Sedition and Riot acts as enforcement. Railroads in the states have the “right” to run their own police and their own courts for instance. And the Army is obligated to back them up.

            If necessary or if the board of directors or the local military commanders decide it’s necessary.

            There was an event I witnessed as a Webelo scout, a transitional bit between being a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout. For our Engineering pin we went to just southeast of downtown El Paso to watch Interstate 10, the last two mile stretch, which is a big overpass.

            It was originally scheduled but was held up by the Catholic Church, to remove three cemeteries. You know those Time Life Books with their Old West books, the commercial about John Wesley Harding was so mean he once shot a man for snoring… yeah, that guy, he’s buried there. Concordia Cemetery and a Jewish Cemetery and a Chinese Cemetery, the oldest Christian cemetery in what’s now the U.S.

            The Catholic Church has a big scary deal about being buried in Consecrated Ground. They can punish you, in their dogma, keep you in Purgatory for longer by forbidding Christian Burial. The majority of the graves there are unmarked, after 450 years (this was in 1971) of people who couldn’t afford regular internment, So the Catholic Church put up a fight and won. I don’t know if they would win today, and people of other faiths eh…

            And people of other nations, no way in hell or heaven would the Army let up on them. Sessions is reported, in the Assange case, to have said Free Speech doesn’t apply to any non-citizens. That’s on THIS site, there’s a discussion on it. You remember how I keep saying that Trump will sell out his disciples first? Well, that’s it in action. When a revolutionary movement gains power and the despotic elements of the New State assume full power, yeah. Purges.

          4. The empire is digging up Confederate statues where I live also.

            Everyone gets ethnically cleansed equally in America! We’re equally depressed :)

          5. Trump was asked about Assange in one article. He didnt seem to know the details but said he supports the action.

            He doesn’t seem to know really what’s going on. He just appoints the people he assumes are best, then sells it. It’s a huge disappointment for me.

            He’s not an evil dictator. He’s a weak pushover, at least right now.

        2. You are the guy with lots of ‘personal issues’, Tex. One of them is that you are in love with violence and war.

          1. Not at all, I just feel for the abused and starving 25 million people in N. Korea. Clearly, you do not.

        3. “N. Korea could be taken in a day with zero US casualties.”

          Well, yes, the North Korea in your imagination could be taken in a day with your fantasy US taking zero casualties. What fun!

          Unfortunately we’re talking about the real North Korea, the real US, and the real world. In that world, the US could certainly defeat North Korea quickly, but not in a day, not without casualties, and not by “taking” it.

          1. Yes, in one day. And I said “US casualties”, not “casualties”. The command and control structure of N. Korea is small. Once it is destroyed, the rest is easy. Do you really think that 25 million starving N. Koreans are going to fight against freedom and food? It is very easy to see who has the “imagination” in this conversation.

          2. Precision, laser-guided bombs when Kim and the maximum number of his minions are gathered together in one place. In the aftermath, the Korean civilians will seize the oppourtunity and the military will either lay down their arms or be taken as prisoners. By the time any US or S. Korean troops are sent in, it will be over. This is not the Middle East and things will play out differently. Just my opinion. And yes, it could also play out the way you outlined it in your blog.

          3. US munition makers certainly love the term precision laser-guided bombs.but the reality is that there are no US soldiers and no South Korean soldiers anywhere near Kim Jong-un. The US government may have a guess or two where Kim Jong-un is actually located or (more likely) it has no more idea where he is at than I do.

            It sounds like a sheer dream that North Korean soldiers will lay down their arms to anybody, not “the Korean civilians”, not to the Chinese army certainly, not to the Japanese army certainly, not to the US army, probably not to the South Korean army. Far more likely that Kim Jong-un would be dead and some other person from the North Korean power structure would replace him.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcBEW7D7wFM

    2. It’s not so easy to do.

      A South Korean will tell you how North Koreans are brainwashed. And North Korea has a very large military which could at the least do great damage to South Korea.

    3. Before we remove Kim, we should tidy up our messes in Iraq, Syria,Yemen, Libya and Somalia for starters… How many NO WIN wars can we be fighting before the whole fiat Money house of cards comes tumbling down…….?????????

      1. Yes, we should, but Iraq, Syria,Yemen, Libya, and Somalia don’t have nukes. N. Korea is NOT a “no win” situation. Actually, Iraq, Syria,Yemen, Libya and Somalia are also not “no win situations” either, it is “politics/politicians” that keep them from being resolved – study Vietnam to understand that kind of stupidity.

        1. George Bush said Iraq had the WMDs including a nuclear program which was of course never found in the past almost 14 years we’ve been in THERE country. And that crap about everybody except the Regime To Be Changed would ‘welcome us as liberators’. How’s that going again? Sounds like Might Makes Right.

          Overwhelming force, is that your usual way of doing things? Kill them all, let God sort them out? Or is it just a fantasy of yours? You can’t even shut ME up and I’m crippled as a result of the shoddy work site ethics of one of your oil companies, a subsidiary of Tidewater Oil which is a subsidiary of Halliburton. I lived in Texas 40 years, and it wasn’t all wasted, I met and was and still am the friend of some really great people. Too bad the Texas government doesn’t consider them, us or me to be valid people.

          1. F George Bush. I am not sure why people think real Conservatives liked him. He was better than Al Gore, and that is just more of the “lesser of two evils” BS.

          2. Didn’t work in the patch, but for a subsidiary called a Slave Market. But that’s halliburtons “ethics”. They screw the workers, suppliers, customers and most of the investors. How does one know the pigs who hire one that they have an honest business? it would be easy if the contractors didn’t deliberately LIE to the people.And the government.

            Every thief in the world has a similar ethic. They also stiffed me on the paycheck. Compensation for on the job accidents is Part Of The Pay. So is the promise of as safe a job site as possible, and taking out my FICA dues was more theft. also the pay for the last 3 days I worked for them. I gave my all, and they got rich then abandoned their obligation. How would that not be theft? They took no responsibility for their theft, so it’s up to me to take the blame for their crime? That sounds like you’re in league with them. Thieves of a feather and all. I mean, that and upholding their amoral stance on imperialism. You can back them up as much as you please, but when the sky is falling you’ll not be under their umbrella. They’ll pat YOU on the head and say Good Boy. You won’t share in any profit from their conquests, if they succeed, temporarily, but you’ll share in the fallout when it fails.

            Do you really believe control freaks like your masters would actually give Korea back to the Koreans?
            Today, I believe, is the election day in South Korea, what odds would you give that the ‘legitimately elected’ New President won’t be another Puppet Dictator who has his hand in the public treasury? That’s why they’re having a special election, the New President’s predecessor was on the take. But I guess the South Korean people knew they had a corrupt Washington Appointed government all along, so is it their fault they didn’t just slaughter every ROK soldier and American soldier on the peninsula?

          3. I’ve worked all over the world in the oilfield; it is an inherently dangerous job. If a job site is operating dangerously, I work to correct the problem. If it continues, I go and work for someone else. Yes, companies SHOULD be doing everything you describe, but the buck stops with me and the responsibility is mine if I know something is unsafe and continue to work in that environment. It’s called “taking personal responsibility”.

          4. That’s why Texas has so many fatalities and on the job injuries. No Unions and no backup for your fellow workers. Have fun sucking your boss’ toes.

          5. I work for myself as an independent contractor and, over the years, have worked for most major oil companies with no issues. From your attitude, I’d say you were simply too much of a candyass to work in the oilfield anyway. Hey, it’s okay, some people just can’t hack it – remember, they are always hiring greeters at WalMart. Now, go hump someone else’s leg.

          6. Typical fake machisma. I would apologize for hurting your feelings but gosh darn it I just don’t have the obligation or desire to do so. Your Oily Masters have no discernible morality nor conscience on a whole lot of issues and, gosh darn it, they’re the ones leading the cheers for the destruction of sovereign nations. One and the same. In case you ever get tired of tasting their boot polish, there’s a welcoming place for you.

            The place They plan for you involves a lot of groveling obedience to their will.

        1. And my Cherokee ancestors fought the other Muskogee nations and the Shawnee Prophet alongside Jackson, at the same time he was selling our lands and yours. For the same reason the U.S. subsidizes the Seoul government and the Mandarin and Russian and Japanese Empires did. Control of resources, If Kim stands alone then North Korea is the first independent Korean state in 600 years.

          If you look to the Neocon Bible, aka the Project for the New American Century, they listed Korea and Iraq and Afhanistan to militarily and economically encircle Russia, Indonesia, China and Africa. They said they would use any terrorist attack on American soil as an excuse to go after Iraq first. Because The Popular Perception In America Was To Hate Saddam. And North Korea. That they make the Constitution null because we would be at perpetual war. That they really didn’t care if they won anything, or liberated anybody, the Troops would take the casualties and the signatories to the PNAC would take the money.

          That by 2060 the people who were in their 20s when the plan was started would be in their 90s , and the vast majority of Americans would never have experienced civil liberties or constitutional protections.

          It’s like the book Nineteen Eighty Four was a description of such a society and PNAC was the blueprint to build it.

          If Kim had the desire and total lack of personal self control to bomb South Korea it would have been done decades ago, according to the propaganda we get as “news”, which states clearly that he’s just like his daddy and grandpa. In Tae Kwon Do (Won Park Chik was my chang quan nee and Jesse Ronquillo my Sa Bum Nee and I didn’t advance past yellow-with-green tip belt) we were told there is only one Korea and one Korean people. It’s not told the way “our” army and other government agencies describe it.

          The ones who tell us about Kim being just like Saddam also told us about the WMDs in Iraq and the Incubator Babies never-happened-event in Kuwait.

        2. If I only had one nickel for every White redneck in the South out there that claims for themselves Native blood these days, I would be rich. And btw since I am from Texas myself, I know first hand how rednecks think and act quite well.

          1. Well, I’m not from Texas nor do I live in Texas, so I’ll have to leave you to “understand” someone I am not. I know my heritage on both sides of my family – one side to the mid 1600’s and the other to before the 800’s. And yes, that is not a typo, the 800’s … documented.

    1. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!! Sorry. I have a habit of quoting the Python Players when stuff gets really absurd. Doesn’t take much to set it off either.

  5. I’d just like to add that Trump appears to have delegated foreign policy to Pence and to the Pentagon.

    The appearance is Trump believes that since he is not an expert, he needs to rely on the same bozos he condemned during the election.

    1. People have their own motivations. If you or I cannot determine what they are doesn’t make a person “mad”. It can be difficult to understand, even close to impossible but that is the nature of the human species.

  6. I agree with a couple of people here that this assessment relies a bit too heavily on the theory that wars are started because rational people rationally started them for rational reasons and with reasonable certainty obtainable objectives. Even if exactly none of the facts and past actions reliably jusitfy it, I’ll give you that the important actors involved here qualify to be called rational. Then still we are asked to ignore perhaps all of the human history of warmaking to secure the reassuring conclusion.

  7. Sounds reasonable, but I would not bet on it. Politicians are not reasonable, they are led and controlled by evil forces :-)

  8. I don’t think Trump or Kim are irrational madmen. but I;m not so sure about some of the other hawks in the “American leadership” camp in Washington. There are some irrational zealots there who might just believe that everyone else will always be the more responsible party and back down first rather than crippling the world with a few Nuclear parting shots out of spite.

    I also don’t doubt there are a few nuts who would even be willing to suffer a Nuclear black eye in exchange for the license to use Nukes themselves and in that way break the taboo on use of Nukes, feeling such a demonstration would leave no doubt in Moscow & Beijing that Washington is indeed fanatical enough to go there.

  9. I think you’re wrong. But I hope you’re right.

    Everything Trump has said indicates that he went to the Generals and said, “how do we solve this problem?” And when you ask Generals to provide you with a solution, they will answer. The solution may involve mass casualties. But they will never answer, “I’m sorry, sir, but we do not have a military plan that would be acceptable to the civilian population of the United States.” That’s not their job.

    Their job is to provide military solutions. That’s what they do.

    You ask, they will answer.

    So a plan that might involve North Korea getting a sub through, and putting a nuclear weapon on downtown Los Angeles- well, that’s in the plan. But Mr. President, they will say blandly. You asked for a plan. There’s the plan.

    There is no one in Trump’s White House to say, “Mr. President, the Generals have provided you with a plan. But the cost is too high.”

    “I’m not saying we won’t get our hair mussed. Twenty million! Tops!”

    That’s the conversation that’s going on right now.

    You have more faith in Trump’s intelligence than I do. And I cannot for the life of me see any evidence on which to base your faith.

    I just hope to God you’re right and I’m wrong.

  10. I certainly hope you are correct. The problem with the theory though is simple. What if NK doesn’t actually have nukes? What if they have been faking it and our intelligence agencies know it? Does this sound ridiculous? Well it wouldn’t be the first time we have been lied to about WMD’s nor is it the first time a nation has pretended to have them.

    I don’t believe they have nukes because all of their tests have been extremely low yield and the technology to create extremely low yield nukes is vastly more difficult to engineer. (and contrary to some statements, it doesn’t just happen by accident)

    Remember the “critical mass” needed to create an explosion? This is easier to accomplish with less highly enriched uranium used in larger quantities and the yield from these types of bombs are much greater than anything NK has shown. So can anyone explain to me why NK would skip over making a more devastating and vastly more simple bomb and have moved right into the most difficult of bombs to create? Wouldn’t they have rushed to make the easiest and most deadly bomb first?

    It’s far more likely that they packed a cave with conventional explosives combined with some uranium to create a huge dirty bomb that would seem to be a nuke to anyone who doesn’t know that much about how nukes are made.

  11. 100 Senators being lathered up for war.
    Trump has been assured of a Top Gun high-fiving victory.

    1. It’s been more than a month since the great briefing and luckily it would appear (as best I can perceive it) that the 541 members of the US Congress were not particularly stampeded to war hysteria. Let’s hope that continues.

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