Posts Tagged ‘Kim Jong Un’

FIRE AND FURY

Last Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that North Korea has miniaturized a nuclear device to fit on an intercontinental ballistic missile. President Trump responded publicly that further threats by North Korea would be met by “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” I turned on CNN. For several seconds, national security reporter Jim Sciutto’s face revealed a fear I’ve never seen displayed by another journalist.

Will North Korea launch a nuke towards Honolulu, Seattle, San Francisco or Los Angeles? Will Kim Jong-un send missiles to Guam? An attempted strike by North Korea would be met by a harsh American response leaving Kim dead or with no functioning nation to rule. Yet it would be foolish to say that Kim might not launch a suicidal attack if he saw a concrete threat to his regime. American foreign policy must weigh the odds of all possibilities and measure its words. The difference between slim and none can be deadly.

Sophisticated diplomacy can reduce—although not eliminate—the chance of a strike by North Korea. This involves firmly but calmly communicating America’s commitment to use all the power we can summon in response to such a strike. For entirely practical matters, that warning should be made in private.

Why not a public statement like that voiced by Trump? As military and law enforcement strategists know, cornering an enemy often makes him more dangerous. We receive continuing reports of police requiring more training to de-escalate difficult situations. A peaceful outcome isn’t always possible, but it’s more probable when criminals or the emotionally disturbed—or a Kim Jong-un—see a way out without losing face.

I’m reminded of a story I read decades ago about a high-school teacher in Chicago. He encountered a student confronting others with a gun. He made no threat. Rather, he calmly said, “Here, let me hold that for you.” The student yielded his weapon. The teacher averted potential carnage.

Nuclear proliferation, particularly involving countries engaged in hostile rhetoric, such as Iran, must be taken seriously. Still, the United States and its allies—those we have left—must recognize a reality not of our choosing and one we may be powerless to reverse. Today’s interconnected world makes the transfer of technology relatively simple and swift. Added to that, nations in Asia and the Middle East—as elsewhere—boast people who are as bright and inventive as us. Disturbed as we may be, regimes with whom we maintain profound disagreements probably will develop nuclear weapons.

I’m hardly the first person to suggest we adapt our foreign policy to recognizing proliferation’s sad inevitability. To prevent calamity, we must make clear that our commitments to friends remain firm, and that we maintain the option to use nuclear weapons in response to nuclear attacks or massive conventional aggression. We must also make clear that talking out our differences, even if we don’t reach resolution, makes far more sense. And we must do this within the framework of diplomacy.

Responding to threats, no matter how vile, with public counter-threats raises the global temperature and risks buttons being pushed in the heat of the moment. Dealing with this issue requires level-headedness and considerable discipline. Mr. Trump’s comment this morning that the U.S. is “locked and loaded” again evidences failure to display these qualities.

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CRYSTAL BALL 2014

What’s ahead in 2014? I polished my Swarovski crystal ball, and here’s what I saw…

— President Obama hands over healthcare.gov to Amazon. The revised website also offers medical supplies, vitamins and supplements, books and periodicals, hairpieces for men and women, and a button for making donations for site maintenance.

— Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann propose a real-American conservative think tank to oppose and eliminate Obamacare once and for all. Following six months of study, they release the organization’s name. It is to be known by the acronym ARACTTTOAEOOAFA—A Real-American Conservative Think Tank to Oppose and Eliminate Obamacare Once and For All.

— Dennis Rodman and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un proclaim their engagement. This coincides with news that Kim’s wife, Ri Sol Ju, met an untimely death while trying on a new evening gown purloined from Seoul’s top designer. Rodman and Kim, modeling matching wedding dresses, reveal that their ceremony will be held in a state-of-the-art basketball arena hand-built by 18,000 laborers volunteering to forego wages because of their devotion to the Great Leader.

— The National Basketball Association signs an agreement with North Korean manufacturers of jerseys and other merchandise thanks to 18,000 workers volunteering to forego wages because of their devotion to the Great Leader.

— Texas becomes the lone holdout against same-sex marriage after Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi throw in the (figurative) towel. Lame-duck governor Rick Perry promotes legislation that forbids men, including relatives, from making any form of physical contact with each other except while playing football. Still, the law bans fanny patting after big plays, post-game hugs and championship dog piles. The latter is punishable by a prison  term of not less than six months or more than fifty-seven years.

— In response to traffic congestion created by special buses taking legions of San Francisco tech workers to companies out of town, the Board of Supervisors proposes a subway running from Second and Mission Streets to Silicon Valley. The $250 billion project will be funded by a special tax on caffeinated espresso drinks and a twenty-five-cent per flush charge on residential toilets.

— In Teheran, 18,000 Iranians set a Guinness record by chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” nonstop for eleven days, seventeen hours, forty-two minutes and twenty-seven seconds. They protest the availability of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” on satellite TV. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei makes a speech lasting seventeen hours, forty-two minutes and twenty-seven seconds blaming the U.S. and “the Zionist entity” for the deaths of 4,332 of the patriotic demonstrators and the hospitalization of the remainder.

— Dennis Rodman splits “amicably” with Kim Jong Un and becomes the United States’ first ambassador to Iran since the 1979 revolution. He simultaneously stars in “Real Housewives of Teheran.”

— Rick Perry becomes U.S. ambassador to North Korea. At a Christmas news conference, he takes credit for influencing Kim Jong Un to establish North Korea’s first minimum wage. Based on Texas’ proven economic model, it provides workers 18 cents an hour in 2015 skyrocketing to 22 cents in 2024.

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Purchase my new novel The Boy Walker in soft cover or e-book format at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com or iUniverse.com. Read my short-short story “White on White” in the Winter 2014 online edition of Summerset Review.