Madmen or politicians?
I was just ten years old when the Cuban missile crisis threatened the world with a nuclear war, at a time when hostilities between America and Russia were at their fiercest. It was 1962. It was a deeply worrying time.
Now, 55 years on, the world again watches with similar apprehension and dismay, as the leaders of North Korea and America lock horns and threaten each other with extinction.
But that’s where any similarity ends. The difference is in the leaders of the countries involved.
In 1962, we had Kennedy and Khrushchev. Whatever their politics, they were essentially fine leaders, who negotiated and sorted out a solution within days, that not only avoided all-out war, but began the slow process of improving relations between the two superpowers.
Today, we have Trump and Kim Jong-un. God help us. One is a not particularly nice individual, who has child-like tantrums when things don’t go his way, has no patience whatsoever, and no oratorical ability. But he is democratically elected. He can also lose his office if that’s what his people desire.
The other is a very nasty, murderous lunatic tyrant, who appears completely deranged, who is not democratically elected, and will keep his office for as long as he wants. His country is merely his plaything, and now he has some new toys that he can throw out of his pram anytime he wants, it seems.
So what can anyone do about this situation?
Forget diplomacy – there’s as much chance of that working as there is in getting a solution in Cyprus – none whatsoever. You can’t even blame Trump for his latest outburst: “madman… will be tested like never before”. What else is he supposed to say when dealing with such a threat?
Only one country can solve this – China.
Although technically an ally of North Korea, China is terribly conflicted – sure, it doesn’t want to see a nuclear armed neighbour, but neither does it want a war which could see American and other troops close by, and millions of refugees crossing its border.
China is the one country that keeps the economy of North Korea going. If it was willing to stop all assistance, maybe, just maybe, the spectre of Armageddon can be avoided.
But time is very short – if China delays making this decision, and it’s not at all clear they would want to do this anyway, then you, me, and the rest of the world, well, I don’t even want to contemplate what we may see.
If only there was a Kennedy and a Khrushchev to sort out this mess.
Weather forecast for Guam
The world is a nasty place, some say. It definitely is and some, like the North Korea dictator Kim Jong-Un, are trying hard to prove it.
Just recently, as of September 3, North Korea tested another ballistic missile able to hit Tokyo and Guam, a US territory. Even more recently, in a war of words with the United States, Kim said that he would test an H-bomb over the Pacific. Reacting to President Trump’s UN speech, Kim said that ‘the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last.’ The North Korean leader wants to complete its nuclear program and says his country is nearing its goal of ‘equilibrium’ in military force with the US.
Later, his threat to hit Guam was withdrawn but not completely. Japan is also in trouble with the missile fly-overs. And that’s not even mentioning South Korea with its capital, Seoul, just a shot away from the North. So is it time to worry?
Since the Cold War, North Korea has been a client of the Soviet Union getting supplies from the Soviets to keep the regime alive. After the break-up of the USSR, the North has lost its patron and turned to China instead as major economic partner. But, like the official North Korean juche ideology says, you have to rely on yourself no matter what.
So in 2000s the Kim land has left the Non-Proliferation treaty and decided that the nukes would be its best argument in a gamble with those who can feed the failing country.
The North is gambling: we are a bunch of psychos, we’ll nuke you if… If you don’t keep us alive. Moreover, the last thing China wants is a unified Korea as part of the Western coalition. Probably Japan would also choose a controlled North rather than Seoul as capital of both Koreas. Russia wouldn’t help the United States in this crisis, too.
Kim Jong-Un knows it perfectly well. Yes, he is a bad guy. Yes, he irritated China recently with his remarks and actions and they cut off oil supplies for a while. Yes, he would put his country and the world on the brink of war. But he knows he will die if the war breaks out. Thus, he won’t go to war
because his goal is peace. A peace on his conditions. He knows he must play tough to achieve it and doing his best. Another thing is how the US and the world would react.
So the weather forecast for Guam is clear sky and no missile rain.
And why are we going to war?
Of course, I want to take the North Korean missile issue from the American point of view. Mr Trump has two serious problems that will prevent him from solving the issue to his satisfaction:
He has cried Wolf so many times that nobody believes him. The North Korean Foreign Ministry compares his recent UN speech to a barking dog. “If he was thinking he could scare us with the sound of a dog barking, that’s really a dog dream,” In Korean, a dog dream is an absurd dream. Clearly they do not take his threats seriously, so he cannot bluff. Saying you will destroy North Korea means nothing if they don’t believe you.
The City of Seoul has over ten million people; this must give even Donald Trump pause. You already know about NK artillery so I’ll not bore you here. No amount of barking will change the fact that most of these civilians will die in the opening hours of a conflict.
Given the above, you may wonder why Mr. Trump is beating the war drums? The reason has a name: Robert Mueller.
From the outside, it looks like Mr. Mueller’s investigation of Trump & Russia may bear fruit. If there is an indictment, there will almost certainly be Impeachment proceedings.
Impeachment in the US is not a legal proceeding, it’s political and the President’s popularity will play a direct role in whether his own party, the Republicans, will go along with the result of the Special Council’s findings.
Stated simply, if Trump can find a good war and get the American people to rally around him, he would stand a much better chance of surviving an Impeachment. That, not nukes, is the real danger Kim Jong-Un faces.