Monday, April 17, 2017

I guess it does have missiles in it, and it's sure slow...

Sergey Nikitich Khrushschev and his father around 1962, not sleeping. Via BBC. No special meaning.

Stupid Analogies department, from David Sanger:
What is playing out, said Robert Litwak of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, who tracks this potentially deadly interplay, is “the Cuban missile crisis in slow motion.” But the slow-motion part appears to be speeding up, as President Trump and his aides have made it clear that the United States will no longer tolerate the incremental advances that have moved Mr. Kim so close to his goals.
Our Soviet antagonist in 1962, in response to US deployment of more than 100 nuclear-armed Jupiter missiles in Italy and Turkey and the possibility of a renewed US effort to overthrow the Cuban government, secretly deployed a like number of nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba, creating a terrifying standoff when U-2 spyplanes discovered their existence.

Our Chinese antagonist (or whatever it is—the current President of the US personally owes the country several hundred million dollars) in the last several years has not installed any nuclear-armed missiles in its North Korean client state but rather repeatedly pressured it to stop building its own, including with votes in the UN Security Council to sanction the DPRK, especially since the US withdrew its tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991 (as a confidence-building gesture on the part of the George H.W. Bush administration which ultimately led to the "agreed framework" of 1994, which might well have permanently ended the DPRK nuclear weapons program had the neoconservatives of the George W. Bush administration not decided to trash the agreement by refusing to keep its terms on the US side), but the North Koreans have been publicly pushing ahead with their program anyway and succeeded in creating a system that could possibly threaten South Korea and Japan, though we're really not sure whether it does or not, creating a terrifying standoff when US intelligence failed to learn that this year's Kim Il-sung birthday celebrations would not include the test of a nuclear weapon but only another failed missile (which some say failed because of US cyber interference, so you'd think the US could have known about that).

And in other important differences, our president is not a young and untested Cold Warrior, which seemed pretty scary at the time, but an elderly and untestable psychopath who can't remember what his position is from one day to the next.

That is how not like the Cuban missile crisis this situation is. It is a wholly artificial and unnecessary crisis with which North Korea doesn't even really have anything to do, driven principally by Trump's longing to tell China, "You're not the boss of me!" and make them do something they don't want to do, although as he learned the other day they really can't do it. ("After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy," he said. "It’s not what you would think.") Too late—we've already disengaged the Obama policy of "strategic patience".

Heard David Sanger on the radio this morning saying that was a good thing, dumping "strategic patience",  and couldn't help wondering what's good about it. Which are we ditching, actually, the strategic part or the patient part? So far, sounds like both, and that's not a smart way to engage with the nation of Sunzi (or Sun-tzu in the old styling).

And then, after agreeing with President Xi that the Chinese government can't do it, tweeting about how nice it is that the Chinese government is going to do it:
“Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem?” Mr. Trump asked in a Twitter post on Sunday morning, making it clear that everything, including the trade issues he vowed to solve as a candidate, could be a bargaining chip when it comes to defanging the North.
What makes me want to scream in that last is that nobody's asking: Why wouldn't he base his decision on reality, as in whether China was manipulating currency or not? Why wouldn't it even be relevant that China has not met the US official definition of a currency manipulator since 1994 (as the Trump Treasury has now formally acknowledged) and has acted not to depreciate the value of its currency but increase it for the past three years? Why should Sanger not even mention that "the trade issues he vowed to solve as a candidate" don't exist?

Why is Sanger cheerfully gossiping about the deployment of a lie as a negotiating gambit without clarifying that it's a lie? In the Church of the Savvy, is the truth of an assertion made by a politician an entirely unimportant detail?

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