Standing Firm

Well how about that?

North Korea has reopened a vital line of communication with South Korea, raising hopes of a diplomatic thaw days after Kim Jong-un said he would consider sending his country’s athletes to next month’s Winter Olympics, to be held just south of the border.

Hours after Donald Trump again baited the North Korean leader on Twitter – this time with a boast about the size and efficacy of his nuclear button – Pyongyang said it would reactivate a telephone hotline at the truce village of Panmunjom at 6.30am GMT on Wednesday.

For those of us who have managed to avoid going into meltdown, this isn’t tremendously surprising. The North Koreans have turned sabre-rattling into a fine art, threatening its neighbours whenever its economy is nosediving and it needs more foreign aid, or it senses a weakness in the loose coalition of countries against it, primarily the USA. With George Bush tied up with the War on Terror and Barack Obama being piss-weak, the last 15 years have been relatively unworrisome for the North Koreans, giving them the opportunity to develop the nuclear weapons they are now waving around. There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that were the US to show weakness and lack of resolve at this point, the weapons development would increase in parallel with the rhetoric as the regime sought to extract maximum concessions from its neighbours.

This is why I don’t think Trump had much choice other than to state clearly that any nuclear attack by North Korea would result in a massive retaliatory strike that would annihilate his regime and half his people. After 15 years of permissiveness and dithering, it was time for some stiffness and resolve. Now there may be much to criticise in Trump using Twitter to convey this message, but I am certain the normal diplomatic channels are conveying the same sentiment. That said, Trump’s tweeting might also serve another purpose: it shows very publicly that he is serious, without his words being filtered into vague guff by some state-department press-release full of generic words like “concern” and “unacceptable” and “consequences”. A politician broadcasting exactly what he thinks is not a bad thing in a world where it’s hard to know what a politician thinks even after a lengthy career in office.

So Kim Jong Un has done the only sensible thing left open to him: back down. We’ll have to wait and see whether this is the start of a new era of North Korea being relatively benign, but I’m hoping it is. If so, we can be sure everyone will line up to say this is despite Trump’s bellicose approach, not because of it.

This is why I made this rather smart-arse comment on Twitter this morning:

I don’t know whether those wringing their hands are simply virtue-signalling, jumping on the anti-Trump bandwagon to show how sophisticated they are, or if they genuinely believe the self-serving appeasement adopted by Western leaders since the end of the Cold War will keep them safe. Either way, I’m rather glad such people are uncomfortable. It’s about time they were.

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12 thoughts on “Standing Firm

  1. These people have either never been bullied at school or were and hated it but didn’t stand up to the bully. They never learned the important life lesson, that leaping over your desk and pummelling said bully into the ground (in my case before the surprise could wear off) stops further bullying as the cowardly move on to a different target.

    These prroud pacifists were the unilateralists who had some blind faith that if we all just hug everyone will be the same as them. And they say Trump is crazy….

  2. I think there are few people who could even possibly give a genuinely informed view, former diplomats perhaps, maybe a couple of IR professors, but even then they have institutional biases and probably havent had all their approaches and assumptions tested rigorously.

    Other people who comment on politics are just probably risk averse or lazy trump bashing mediocre bores.

    I find very few people lobbing comment on anything like this useful, illuminating or interesting. What surprises me is how oversupplied the market for boring, dumb, fairly ignorant rambling is on platforms like twitter and youtube.

    You’d think for people who consider politics a major hobby (I do, its all I talk about to my group of friends, with maybe a little bit of sport) they’d demand to hear from a range of different perspectives, but no, they are happy in their sixth form insight and wailing.

    Anyone who is often worth listening to, whether you agree with them or not, will often have a number of ‘surprising’ or heterodox views on a number of issues because they’ve actually thought about the issues and have a range of knowledge that gives fairly original takes. If I can tell someone to their face what they believe I know I am talking to a stunted person.

    I dont get it at all.

  3. You’d think for people who consider politics a major hobby

    Ah, I’ve written about these people before. They like to give the impression they’re interested in politics, but they’re not: they’re virtue-signalling.

  4. Headline at The Australian newspaper is that North and South Korea are to have their first talks in more than two years. In the same newspaper a couple of days ago there were multiple opinion pieces on why Trump had finally gone too far with his red button tweet.

    They do this with a straight face.

  5. Ah, a Guardian article! Do you remember when they would have opened comments on articles like this? Now they only do comments when they are reasonably sure that they won’t disturb the narrative.

  6. So, we really do have the all time global Punch and Judy show playing out in glorious technicolor now, or maybe Carry on Politics or whatever best fits your view on high value comedy but there is no doubt about it, this revolution will be televised. In the one corner, we have the horn tooting conservatives crowing how Sheriff Trumps tweets have reigned in Rocket Man and his Rogue Nation and on the other we have the bed wetters horrified about the size of his nuclear button. Does anyone really believe that Sean Hannity that wise old Fox talking head really did think that we were all on edge or has he also been had?

    Could the Sherriff and his merry men be talking up the war crisis and be in secret alignment with so called white hats, the good guys, could he be talking up the tweets and in the background averting war. Did he really make the call to bomb that empty field in Syria and tip off Putin and Assad in between dinner courses during his first meal with President Xi, did Xi really stop taking deliveries of N Korean coal in favour of US coal, or are they all getting together including Putin and the official bad guys and selling the warmongers a pup. Would Xi have given him the reception he got in Beijing if he thought he was about to push the button and release fire and fury on their commie ally and next door neighbour. Could the Mueller investigation be a cover for the real investigation of the bad guys. Could he be applying this strategy to Palestine and Iran as well.

    We are all being played here, and we will soon find out one way or the other, if he brings us back from Armageddon it is staged and if not, well somethings going to have to go up in smoke.

  7. “How is the ruler of North Korea chosen?”

    “Kim selection.”

    I am irrationally proud of that.

  8. “like the Dutch government did to the shooting down of MH-17”

    Or like the British government responded in 2006 to an act of nuclear terrorism on British soil. I suppose this is when Putin realised he could down as many MH-17s as he pleases.

  9. Trump’s next big decision is shaping up quite nicely, whatever way he plays it he is going to piss off some important US allies big time. Europe is continuing to indicate that they want to do business with Iran at least through their all-powerful voting French and UK, UNSC Ambassadors yesterday, so does he forego Europe’s commercial interests and throw the Iranian nuclear deal and its economy under the bus in support of his strategic regional allies that are dead against it and any kind of resurgent Iran in any form. Will he move in favour of the Saudis, the Sunni Jihadists and the Israelis and further alienate himself at the UN, the bookies would probably say he will, but with Trump you never know.

  10. I remember when I first heard that Trump was going to contest for the presidency. I dismissed it as a joke, reasoning that he could never beat Hillary in the primary.

    And then I heard he was running as a Republican, which he wasn’t and had never been, and I decided he was a buffoon, but perhaps a keen marketer of his own brand.

    And then he won the presidency, thrilling me to no end, not because I wanted him as my president, but because I did not want Hillary. I still considered him an unsuitable choice, but better than the one he bested, promising us at least a period of ineffective stasis instead of the steady march to ruin that Hillary would have brought to us. He would be like a sea anchor, getting us nowhere but keeping us from being driven ashore.

    But since then, he has steadily and amazingly pleased me to no end as our President. Granted he blusters and farts and provokes daily, but he has accompanied this with a steady drumbeat of truly unexpected conservative accomplishments in spite of being opposed by the entire polite world.

    The world – or at least we in the USA – are only beginning to understand who he is and what he has the ability and will to accomplish. He breaks all of the rules that were written to disable men like him, to the horror of those who still expect to be able to shame their opponents into correct thought.

    At some point, the masses will understand what he has accomplished. At some point, it will become clear to them that the positive changes that we are seeing are certainly not being accomplished “in spite of” President Trump.

    He was the right man at the right time. I certainly didn’t see it until after he took office. More and more people are slowly coming to this realization. Many of them hate this realization. I find that I derive inordinate satisfaction from their hatred. If the marxists are unhappy, all is well in the world.

  11. If the marxists are unhappy, all is well in the world.

    Bobby b, that made me smile.
    My wife was shocked when Trump came to power. I occasionaly raise the issue, but I get less of a rise every time. She is coming around.

    Tim that was very naughty to goad the poor Duch like that. Is Mr Trump rubbing off on you?

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