Saturday, 12 August 2017

call and response

Frighteningly, the president of the United States of America can unilaterally order the launch of nuclear missiles in roughly the time it takes to compose a tweet and while the world can only hope and pray that the bluster and provocation of the present regime will be shown to be just that, it seems unwise to signal a belligerent posture on a social media platform that’s made subject to influence by mob-rule—especially once household atomics are brought into the picture. The sabre-rattling from North Korea isn’t new and the people of South Korea and Guam seem relatively unfazed by the latest threat, and the North has long had the ability to launch a devastating first-strike on the peninsula and Japan with traditional weapons.
It is the reaction of America that is more vexing.  In a stand-off, such as the one Dear Leader has provoked with fairly vague pledges of retaliation to which North Korea responded with a specific plan to demonstrate their capability by firing a volley of missiles into the ocean around thirty kilometres off the coast of the US territory of Guam. There is a grave potential for a miscalculation and collateral damage—not precluding that the US might attack North Korea for the provocation pre-launch. Meanwhile, China has stated that it will do nothing should North Korea be the aggressor and America presumably responds in kind. The strategic presumption being that North Korea will strike first because there is no option of a second since it has a limited arsenal. Thing’s tend to escalate quickly. Of course, it’s devilishly difficult to define what it means to strike first from all points of view, and China reserves the right to intervene should the US be the first to act. I’d like to think that Dear Leader wouldn’t even consider actions that would endanger the people of the region—especially the families of US service-members stationed in South Korea and other American assets. No military option seems tenable and all would result in death and destruction and signal a dangerous willingness to use nuclear weapons that could embolden other armed powers, like Pakistan and India or Israel against the rest of the Middle East, to play out their bellicose fantasies. The fact that evacuations are not yet underway and China’s assessment was put out there makes me think that the ratcheted-up rhetoric and the beating of war drums on social media will be unable propel the regime towards making a grave miscarriage of might. Maybe this is all a ploy on the part of China—allied perhaps with Russia—to rid themselves of two problematic autocrats in a single blow.