September 19, 2017

"The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission..."

"... for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do. It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future. The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council. Thank you to all involved. But we must do much more. It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior."

Said President Trump at his speech today at the United Nations.


I think, overall, Trump gave a great speech today, but I cannot figure out why he would take the taunt "Rocket Man" — questionable enough when deployed on Twitter — and use in the U.N. Not only is it too casual, too undignified, it undercuts its own point: that Kim Jong-Un is a dangerous nut. You wreck  your credibility if you yourself sound like a dangerous nut.

ADDED: Scott Adams loved Trump's saying "Rocket Man" at the U.N. (Is his reason anything more than: It tweaks the left?)

169 comments:

Ignorance is Bliss said...

You wreck your credibility if you yourself sound like a dangerous nut.

Which is exactly why Trump has no chance of beating Hillary!

Guildofcannonballs said...

It isn't a taunt but a sign of respect.

Why wouldn't anyone respect a man capable of the amazing feat of transcending our atmosphere via governing logistics he presides over be other than happily obliged at the deference given to his space rockets?

Michael K said...

The Norks will never give up nukes after Hillary showed the consequences but there is some argument that he is in danger of a coup by his own war lords.

I think the term might be part of a strategy to make him look insignificant.

Expat(ish) said...

At least he didn't pound the table with his shoe!

-XC

Nonapod said...

You wreck your credibility if you yourself sound like a dangerous nut.

Does a POTUS calling another world leader a "rocket man" qualify as sounding like a dangerous nut? I don't think it does. As we all know, Trump does enjoy his nicknames (lyin' Ted, Crooked Hillary). It's not an unusual pattern.

Paddy O said...

Rocket man makes it sounds like he's a nefarious super-villain, rather than a national leader with international respect for his position.

Which I think is Trump's goal. One way alpha male types put others in their place is to use labels or wrong names to show lack of respect. Trump's avoidance of titles or honorifics is a message, especially in the UN.

Whether or not it is effective for this crisis is another question

rhhardin said...

Rocketman puts Kim as irresponsible, like young boys toying with the means of destruction.

And so dangerous.

MaxedOutMama said...

I'm going with Paddy O. The use of the term was deliberate and planned. Trump's aim is to depict the guy as rogue international villain rather than treat with him as a legitimate head of state.

Call it "not normalizing" Kim.

Darrell said...

. . .put others in their place is to use labels or wrong names to show lack of respect.

Like saying His Assholiness Chuckles the Clown.

Howard said...

It's just Trump's big ask with Rocket Man thrown in as a bit of theater to garner more attention. He knows the madman theory has been tried, didn't work and won't work. What's the matter, Professor? Don't you read Scott Adams?
Nixon's Madman Theory

Trumpit said...
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Guildofcannonballs said...

A 'dangerous nut' would have easily sufficed until recently to democratically define a person who believes two women or two men, for now two anyways, could be recognized as married, we can all agree.

The worst worst worst is to emphatically believe you must emotionally disagree because you are a good person who does that and if you don't then maybe you might not be so good no more.

Respectfully although somewhat obscured I believe this comment is aligned with the potUS UN speech today hence not off topic.

Trumpit said...

"Rocket man" was funny, but "King Kong Dong" would have been funnier coming from Trump.

Rob said...

If he'd really wanted to burn Kim, he'd have called him Rocket Boy, not Rocket Man.

WisRich said...

..but I cannot figure out why he would take the taunt "Rocket Man" — questionable enough when deployed on Twitter — and use in the U.N. Not only is it too casual, too undignified, it undercuts its own point: that Kim Jong-Un is a dangerous nut. You wreck your credibility if you yourself sound like a dangerous nut.

Oh I don't know Ann. Trump's 16 primary opponents might have a different take on that.

Didn't Aalynski say ridicule is man's most potent weapon.

tam said...

Reading that in the transcript jumped out at me too. I thought it might be a deliberate ploy, purposefully using a demeaning nickname in such a public forum. NK will always be "shorty" to the real big boys and we won't let him use his a-bomb to try to change that.

Bluff? We'll see.

Owen said...

Prof A, you may be straining too hard here to make a point. Trump is Trump. You don't invite him to your cocktail party expecting him to hide behind the drapery. His mock-out of Little Kim was entirely predictable but also off-beat enough to be memorable. Which is the point! Trump wants to humiliate Kim Jong Un, and he wants to humiliate everyone else into humiliating him, to get him to drop this loaded gun. It's creating an option not for Kim but for everybody else: help me make him so ridiculous that some less-crazy figure can succeed him.

Not that complicated IMHO but very interesting.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

Yeah - I don't like the word "man". Kim Jung Un is not a man, he's a rotten bully-boy who should be taken out.

Henry said...

If that was the only odd ad-lib, then we have a record.

Maybe it was a dad joke.

Dan Hossley said...

Low energy Kim? Crying Un? Crooked Kim? I dunno, but Rocket Man is pretty good ridicule considering the alternatives.

Trumpit said...

Elton John gave us the "Rocket Man" wonderful song, so perhaps that's where Trump got it from.

Ray said...

I agree, it's Branding by Trump!

>Oh I don't know Ann. Trump's 16 primary opponents might have a different take on that.
>Didn't Aalynski say ridicule is man's most potent weapon.

I would not be surprised if Rocket Man decides it would be smarter to negotiate with other parties. And the entire issue of face that is so important in Korean Culture! With the over the top way NK News treats and ridicules the US, I don't think they are used to somebody punching back.

Donald Trump does not act like your Father's President...

Henry said...

I wish he'd said, "Rocket man burning out his fuse is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. It's lonely out in space."

traditionalguy said...

Well he didn't call him that "Paper Hanging Son of a Bitch."

But he targeted him as well. Kim is that man with testing H-Bombs who is also launching ICBM Rockets over Japan towards the USA as he promises over and over to kill us.

Now, there is no Confusion on the UN's target

Nonapod said...

Does anybody know about the psychology of nicknames? I assume nicknames personalize people, make them less threatening, more of a character, and more silly. But I ain't no thinky doctor.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

Seriously, Althouse? Did Roosevelt and Churchill sound like dangerous nuts when they spoke derisively of Hitler?

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, it's a guy thing.

(If wife reads this comment I'll be sleeping in the back yard tonight!)

Dave said...

Paddy O is right. It's a direct message to Kim that Trump is ready to do battle. Don't think China isn't listening. Also, he is shoving Kim verbally in front of the other kids. I think it would be better for Kim to do something rash now than later. Am I wrong about that?

What is a solution to this other than 1. Kim stops 2. China makes Kim stop 3. We make Kim stop

Trump is all out of bubblegum.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Trump's rhetoric has gone from fire and fury to rocketman and patience. That's a rhetorical deescalation.

I recall some premature praise here for the fire and fury language scaring the North Koreans into backing down. They just waited, and not that long. Kim Jong Un has won the coiple of rounds. If he posters his country with pictures of himself as Rocketman, he'll win this round too. It's probably best to assume he's not on a suicide mission and turn our public backs on him.

Michael said...

"You wreck your credibility if you yourself sound like a dangerous nut."

On the contrary. A dangerous nut at the helm of the world's most powerful military is quite a different thing than a dangerous nut at the wheel of a starving third world country. Better to be feared than loved.

Bob Boyd said...

Possible reasons to use "Rocket Man":
Trump is essentially addressing all his fellow world leaders. He wants to cut Kim out of that herd. He doesn't want the world leaders to think of Kim as one of them, but as one unworthy of their august ranks.
He wants encourage contempt rather than fear.
He doesn't want Kim thinking, 'I'm doing the right thing because now I'm the topic of the President's speech at the UN. I've struck fear into the hearts of all the world and now they respect me.' He wants Kim rampaging through his palace yelling, "Locket man?! Locket Man?! Heeree Crinton is light, Dono Tlump is big assho!"

Boxty said...
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Boxty said...

Rocket man thought his rockets cause intimidation and fear. Now every time he fires another rocket he's seen as a big, fat joke.

iowan2 said...

I haven't heard a single, Superior Elite, claim President Trumps speech was a bad speech in substance. They take exception with the Presidents style, words chosen, tone, etc. That's from the leftist. Those that support our President, think the speech is very good, and nit pick like our host. Not a single person has made the attempt to compare it to ANY speech delivered by Obama. That would elevate President Trumps speech into the, Greatest of, category. Thinking back, I recall numerous times in Obama's first term, the media, and or Superior Elites, waxed eloquent, anticipating Obama's upcoming speeches, about race, or the Muslim problem, or the Norks. But is was always the same. Obama was such a fantastic, Zen like master of the oral word, that he was going to transform the world, by his trademarked speechifying. Only to have to admit after the speech that it landed flat. Not a single Obama speech is ever referenced, there was nothing notable in them.
Compare that to President Trumps speeches since he took office in January. All home runs, all remarkable and rememberable.

In honest analysis, it makes sense, since we have never had a President so unprepared to serve as Obama.

Sebastian said...

"it undercuts its own point: that Kim Jong-Un is a dangerous nut." It does not: it reinforces the point.

"You wreck your credibility if you yourself sound like a dangerous nut." Trump did not sound like a dangerous nut and therefore did not undermine his credibility. He just ridiculed Kim, causing some loss of face, and indirectly ridiculed anyone supporting him. Trump did sound a tad bit dangerous, and it's about time.

traditionalguy said...

Perchance Fire and Fury is not rockets. But it is laser weapons. And DJT is reminding Rocket Man that all he has is a few Chinese fireworks like rockets. But we can intercept them, unless Rocket Man launches enough rockets at once to out number our THAD System.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

I thought you were all in on the Scott Adams-approved rhetorical frame setting stuff, no? That's a perfect example of it, I'd think.

I read a summary of a study showing that FBI most-wanted people were apprehended at a much higher rate when they were given some kind of nickname (the "Barbie bandits," etc). There seems to be something in our psychology that responds to such silly things.

traditionalguy said...

And DJT brings up our National Anthem every time he says the USA survives the Rocket's red glare.

Fernandinande said...

"Kim" might be a worse name for a dictator than "Rocketman".

exiledonmainstreet said...

Reagan called Gaddafi "the mad dog of the Middle East."

He also called terrorist nations "Murder Inc" and said "We are especially not going to tolerate these attacks from outlaw states run by the strangest collection of misfits, Looney Tunes and squalid criminals since the advent of the Third Reich."

Referring to Castro and Gaddafi as "Looney Tunes" was a bit stronger than "Rocket Man."

n.n said...

The term "rocketman" was once used to recognize grand ambition. I suppose with semantic progress it has acquired some less favorable connotations. Perhaps it always had an ambiguous undertone.

Warren Fahy said...

He's pacing his nuttiness. In front of the whole world. And the whole world sides with him. Plus, he wasn't just communicating to Kim Jong-Un but to all the people who surround him at the highest level: your leader is a global cartoon. Throughout the speech he incited people to revolt against unjust leaders. But the main, immediate thing branding Kim Jong-Un "Rocket Man" accomplishes, especially now that it was aired before the United Nations, is that every time he loads up another missile to launch over Japan or elsewhere, he will now add to the cartoon the globe now has in mind when thinking about him. Scott Adams 101

Freder Frederson said...

So none of you are in the least bit bothered that Trump, in front of the United Nations, threatened to commit a crime against humanity and kill hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocent civilians? Not to mention the tens of thousands of South Koreans (and many American personnel stationed in South Korea) who would die in the last gasp of the North Korean regime.

Paul said...

Well what do you want Trump to call Kim Jong? 'RUNT'? And the risk insulting the runt community? 'STUPE'? And risk insulting stupid people?

I think it was a great speech.

Personally I'd have called Kim Jong that 'insane bastard'.

Char Char Binks said...

Kim is Rocket Man, it's the perfect name for him. He's not the man they think he is at home, oh no.

Qwinn said...

You're right, Freder, I mean it's not like Kim has been making threats like that... oh, wait.

Clearly you think that Trump's threats means "We need to do something about Trump!" Please share with us what something needs to be done about Kim's threats that doesn't end with him carrying them out.

Matt said...
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pdug said...

Anyone remember when Hugo Chavez said, in his speech, that the podium smelled like el diablo had been there after Bush spoke?

Henry said...

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.

@Freder. You appear to have missed the phrase "If it is forced" and supplied the missing coda "with nuclear weapons." Despite Trump's rhetoric, this is no different than the U.S. policy in Korea since the armistice agreement.

Tommy Duncan said...

@iowan2

In these circumstances Obama would have taken 45 minutes (and used "I" and "me" 97 times) to say "ditch your nuclear weapons or you'll receive a sternly worded memo".

Paul said...

Freder Frederson,

No, not at all. I remember Admiral Halsey saying the only Japanese to be spoken WOULD BE IN HELL. And we atom bombed their military war material. Unfortunately the Japanese kept it all near civilian populations (which helped make that very war material.)

So why would it not bother me? Cause it would NOT BE A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY. It would be WAR. You do know what war is, yes? no?

And if the only way to destroy "Rocket Man's" ability to make war is to nuke the places where war material is found, well then maybe the North Koreans ought to move the war material away from the civilian population.

Jim at said...

Freder taking the side of Kim Jong-un.

Unexpectedly.

Big Mike said...

Okay, seriously. Sometimes Donald Trump does things that seem wrong based on what we know, but they work out right and we realize later that he was at least two, and probably more, moves ahead of us. Sometimes he does things that seem wrong but they work out right and we realize later it's because as POTUS he has access to information we don't know. Sometimes things seem to turn out right apparently because he has good luck. Either way I'm getting less and less inclined to second guess him.

What we do know is that Bill Clinton's policy of treating his father Kim Jong Il with respect was a failure.

Dave said...

Trump makes deals. He went to the United Nations and offered a deal. I would think the UN would be the one place we would want a nation to go and discuss war plans before actually waging war. The only reason to do that is explicitly to show war can be avoided. Trump is telling the UN,

I just wanted to check with you guys first, but if you don't fix it, I will.

Freder is being partisan and not actually thinking it through.

But I do not support war in North Korea by any Republican president. Republican presidents can not wage a war. I would have fully supported Obama going to war against North Korea or Iran. But not Trump.

If any Republican president leads us to war, the Democrats will support it up front, then if there is any serious damage to our efforts, they will pull their support and strand the President.

It is a great tactic, and it has worked very well for them twice. Insanely well.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

Kim launches missiles-- the left yawn. Trump says - "Hey stop it or we will kick your ass." ...the left poops its collective Hillary extra large yoga pants.

Matt said...
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Fernandinande said...

It is a serious provocation that Kim Jong Un, a most cruel monster and bloody-thirsty beast, like a psychopath, dares to bear the evil that dares our highest dignity. It is North Korea's misfortune that a man mixed in with human dirt like Kim, a mentally deranged political dwarf who has lost basic judgment and body hair like a chicken soaked in the rain, could only spell misfortune for North Korea.

Richard said...

You have got to hand it to Leftists. They are consistent. They have not changed their tune in 50 years. How dare Ronald Reagan oppose the Soviet Union. Better red than dead!

Freder Frederson said...

Freder taking the side of Kim Jong-un.

That is not what I wrote at all. If I am taking anyone's side it is the millions of poor, innocent North Korean civilians that Trump has threatened to destroy.

Bill R said...

My favorite comment was from National Review.

"Never was 'Holy Shit' mouthed simultaneously in so many languages"

Roost on the Moon said...

If you think the problem is not enough tough talking, this speech was good. I hope you're right, and it will lead to good outcomes in the real world, though I don't get what the mechanism is supposed to be.

Or maybe you just think Kim Jong-un is a bad guy, and you'd like to see a nuclear exchange, because he has it coming, or some dumb parochial nonsense. Then I hope you get disappointed.

But it's completely obvious that this is how Trump would be behaving whether it was strategically sound or not. So here's praying that Seoul is luckier than we are wise. And that Trump's nihilistic constituents don't get to decide another election.

Henry said...

Trump should have threatened them with a red line.

Freder Frederson said...

So why would it not bother me? Cause it would NOT BE A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY. It would be WAR. You do know what war is, yes? no?

Indiscriminately killing civilians is a crime against humanity (this was a grey area during World War II, but in the postwar era is indeed a crime against humanity and a war crime). So is preventative war, which is what Trump is arguably suggesting.

Anonymous said...

Why not taunt the guy? What should have called him: "the distinguished wack job from North Korea"? If the shoe fits, etc.

Nonapod said...

So is preventative war, which is what Trump is arguably suggesting.

Where has he "suggested" that? (seriously asking)

Henry said...

@Freder and @Roost -- For your perusal: Policy toward North Korea, circa 1999 (Clinton's policy):

Review of United States Policy Toward North Korea: Findings and Recommendations
Authors: Office of the North Korea Policy Coordinator, United States Department of State Dr. William J. Perry | Oct. 12, 1999


Under present circumstances, therefore, deterrence of war on the Korean Peninsula is stable on both sides, in military terms. While always subject to miscalculation by the isolated North Korean government, there is no military calculus that would suggest to the North Koreans anything but catastrophe from armed conflict. This relative stability, if it is not disturbed, can provide the time and conditions for all sides to pursue a permanent peace on the Peninsula, ending at last the Korean War and perhaps ultimately leading to the peaceful reunification of the Korean people. This is the lasting goal of U.S. policy.

However, acquisition by the DPRK of nuclear weapons or long-range missiles, and especially the combination of the two (a nuclear weapons device mounted on a long-range missile), could undermine this relative stability.


....

The United States and its allies would swiftly and surely win a second war on the Korean Peninsula, but the destruction of life and property would far surpass anything in recent American experience. The U.S. must pursue its objectives with respect to nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in the DPRK without taking actions that would weaken deterrence or increase the probability of DPRK miscalculation.

This leads to a very simple question. With the utter failure of the Clinton initiative, what is the best way to maintain deterrence and decrease the probability of DPRK miscalculation?

Henry said...

Nowhere does Trump suggest preventative war. From the speech:

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.

Note the emphasis.

Todd said...

So Matt and Freder,

How many dead are you willing to live with so as to protect the NK from any kind of attack? Is LA to small of a price to pay? How about NY? Soul? Paris? "Rocket Man" is rattling his saber and demonstrating that he is not afraid to fire rockets with nuclear warhead.

How many of the world's other population are you willing to see die to protect NK?

Just asking.

Henry said...

Given that U.S. goals are containment, deterrence, and decreasing the chance of DPRK miscalculation, what exactly would you have Trump say?

Anonymous said...

Egged on by the Cracker Emcee I looked up what Churchill had to say about Hitler. As one might expect, he was much more facile with his words, but he wasn't much nicer than Trump.

"Hitler is a monster of wickedness, insatiable in his lust for blood and plunder. Not content with having all Europe under his heel, or else terrorised into various forms of abject submission, he must now carry his work of butchery and desolation among the vast multitudes of Russia and of Asia. The terrible military machine — which we and the rest of the civilised world so foolishly, so supinely, so insensately allowed the Nazi gangsters to build up year by year from almost nothing — cannot stand idle lest it rust or fall to pieces. … So now this bloodthirsty guttersnipe must launch his mechanized armies upon new fields of slaughter, pillage and devastation." Radio broadcast on the invasion of Russia by Germany June 22, 1941

Matt said...

Henry

I don't like the North Korean government. I don't like their leader. I do not want them to have nuclear rockets or missiles. And I certainly do not want them to fire them at all. But the choices the US [and the world] has are not only DO NOTHING or BOMB THEM INTO THE STONE AGE. You seem to think these are the only two choices. There is a lot of room in between those two scenarios. Would you agree?

Earnest Prole said...

You wreck your credibility if you yourself sound like a dangerous nut.

Now you tell us?

Roost on the Moon said...

What is the best way to maintain deterrence and decrease the probability of DPRK miscalculation?

I understand the situation, and bluster may well be the best move on the board. I hope so, because it's the one that Trump can do.

FullMoon said...

Freder Frederson said...

So none of you are in the least bit bothered that Trump, in front of the United Nations, threatened to commit a crime against humanity and kill hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocent civilians? Not to mention the tens of thousands of South Koreans (and many American personnel stationed in South Korea) who would die in the last gasp of the North Korean regime.
9/19/17, 2:20 PM

I feel bad for the loss of life, of course, but think of the amazing video, sound and photographs we will have. Seriously, all we have now is a few lousy pics and vids of Japan and a bunch of test photos. With todays' technology we would get some exciting footage.
Of course, Fredor would agree that first strike would be better, so as to minimize loss of life to South Koreans, Americans, Japanese, etc.

Tomorrow would be good, Kim not expecting it.

Rusty said...

Freder Frederson said...
"Freder taking the side of Kim Jong-un.

That is not what I wrote at all. If I am taking anyone's side it is the millions of poor, innocent North Korean civilians that Trump has threatened to destroy."

Where were you when the Clintons enables LilKim? I know. Singing the praises of the Clintons. All the while those innocent North Korean civilians were resorting to cannibalism.
Those awful christianists you so despise were doing more to feed N Koreans than you ever did.

Freder Frederson said...
"So why would it not bother me? Cause it would NOT BE A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY. It would be WAR. You do know what war is, yes? no?

Indiscriminately killing civilians is a crime against humanity (this was a grey area during World War II, but in the postwar era is indeed a crime against humanity and a war crime). So is preventative war, which is what Trump is arguably suggesting."

I'm always excited to hear the global strategy of Field Marshal Freder.
Tens of thousands of N Koreans are being brutalized and killed by their Dear Leader. How dare you go to war to alleviate their plight!
That about right, freder?

EDH said...
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Michael K said...

If I am taking anyone's side it is the millions of poor, innocent North Korean civilians that Trump has threatened to destroy.

Field Marshal Freder is giving us another strategic lesson.

If we have to attack Iran, the same applies to the Iranian civilians.

The same applies to Israel if attacked by Iran.

The problem is how to avoid having millions of US civilians killed by an enemy,

The last war the US started was in 1846 with Mexico and there is a pretty good argument about the pluses and minuses.

I doubt you know anything about them.

You could even make an argument that, had Hitler not declared war on us (An incredible error of his), we might not have gone to war with Hitler. That might well have resulted in his victory since I doubt Stalin could have defeated him without Lend Lease.

You should try to up your game when discussing world events.

Matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Todd said...

Matt said...
Henry

I don't like the North Korean government. I don't like their leader. I do not want them to have nuclear rockets or missiles. And I certainly do not want them to fire them at all. But the choices the US [and the world] has are not only DO NOTHING or BOMB THEM INTO THE STONE AGE. You seem to think these are the only two choices. There is a lot of room in between those two scenarios. Would you agree?

9/19/17, 3:01 PM


As unlikely and undesirable as "bomb them into the stone age" is, it MUST be on the table. You must be able to have the option in the hope of never needing to use it.

Otherwise you are just drawing one "red line" after another and we all know how effective red lines are.

What would you have Trump do? Wait until NK launches some rockets and then hope our defenses knock them all down? Then was? Reload and wait for the next round? Or would you support a retaliatory strike AFTER NK launches even if it means NK civilians die? Or is that never allowed? Do we have to wait for a nuk to take out a non-NK city before you allow a response?

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

So does this mean that only 4% of Althouse's readers were correct re the question of DJT being a jokester w/ talk like "Rocket Man," rather than him being a humorless, earnest loon?



EDH said...

"Rocket Man" focuses on the delivery system rather than the weapon.

That makes sense if the US has plans/technology to begin making Kim's rocket tests fail, either by interception or sabotage.

Associate "Rocket Man" with repeated failures either on the launchpad or in flight.

It's much easier to create a public spectacle of the failure of a rocket in flight rather than an underground weapon test.

Kevin said...

All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.

Rocket Man serves to remind all assembled that Kim is not a responsible leader and should not be treated as one.

rehajm said...

Bush 41 would mispronounce ‘SADD-am’ when referring to the Iraqi leader Hussein, supposedly calling him ‘a dirty little shoe shine boy’. We all learned how insulting shoes are to Iraquis...

Matt said...

Todd

Are you suggesting that Trump will launch a nuclear attack on North Korea during his presidency? If so why would you be okay with an attack that totally destroys North Korea as opposed to a precise pre-emptive strike on rocket facilities and the like?

Do you see the difference between Trump saying he will do that versus saying he will 'totally destroy'? Maybe it is just rhetoric? If so, okay. But you seem to take it literally? I don't take it literally. I think it is heavy rhetoric that makes Trump sound unhinged. That is the problem.

Todd said...

Matt said...
Todd

Are you suggesting that Trump will launch a nuclear attack on North Korea during his presidency? If so why would you be okay with an attack that totally destroys North Korea as opposed to a precise pre-emptive strike on rocket facilities and the like?

Do you see the difference between Trump saying he will do that versus saying he will 'totally destroy'? Maybe it is just rhetoric? If so, okay. But you seem to take it literally? I don't take it literally. I think it is heavy rhetoric that makes Trump sound unhinged. That is the problem.

9/19/17, 3:17 PM


I am simply saying that I do not think that to "totally destroy" N.K. is not too high a price to pay to protect the U.S.A., if that is what it takes. I would rather not have that happen but I can appreciate a President that does not take that off of the table "too soon".

I also simply asked you which cities you are willing to give up to protect N.K.

Fernandinande said...

A Saudi prince, a Latvian, a North Korean and a New Yorker walk into a bar, and the bartender says "Excuse me, what are your opinions about the meat shortage?"

The Saudi says, "Excuse me, what's a shortage?"
The Latvian says, "Excuse me, what's meat?"
The North Korean says, "Excuse me, what's an opinion?"
The New Yorker says, "Excuse me? What's excuse me?"

Earnest Prole said...

As Steve Bannon said, "There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.” And that was before Rocket Boy tested the hydrogen bomb.

J. Farmer said...

From Daniel Larison in The American Conservative:

"That may have been a plausible goal a decade and a half ago when North Korea didn’t already possess dozens of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, but now that North Korea has them it isn’t going to give them up. It isn’t reasonable to threaten to “totally destroy” a regime in one breath and then urge them to abandon the only things that ought to guarantee their security from attack in the next. Everything Trump has done since taking office has confirmed the North Korean government in its view that denuclearization is one thing they should never agree to. North Korea won’t “realize” that it has to denuclearize because there is no incentive the U.S. can give it that is valuable enough to get them to agree, and the cautionary tale of Gaddafi makes them assume that any deal that they might make with the U.S. would be broken later on. Trump’s obvious desire to scrap the nuclear deal with Iran also gives them reason to disbelieve any commitments the U.S. might make."

Static Ping said...

Form over substance is one of the reasons why we are in this North Korea mess right now. I'll take substance over form any day.

Roost on the Moon said...

Todd,

The object is to lower the chance of any attack. If there's war on the peninsula, millions of innocent South Koreans could die in a flash. The only question is whether Trump's comment increased or decreased the likelihood of war.

Many people seem to imagine that we could "take out" North Korea without South Korea sustaining insane casualties. Not possible. There are 25 Million people living in the Seoul metro, 35 miles from the border, staring down nukes and tons of rocket artillery.

It's peace or a holocaust of innocents. Start from there. North Korea is a terrible situation. This is why. If it was as easy as 'take him out', we would have already.

Bob Boyd said...

panties + Trump = bunch

Todd said...

Roost on the Moon said...
Todd,

The object is to lower the chance of any attack.

9/19/17, 3:33 PM


To date the ONLY actions that have been tried (I mean really tried) is to buy him off. That makes him quiet down for a bit and then come back louder. This has gone on SO long that he now has nuclear weapons. The "bribe" to quiet him this time will be HUGE! Well it appears we have someone in the WH that does not like to pay bribes.

If you just keep giving me more and more of your lunch money, I will stop hitting you.

That is NOT a good strategy when it is our lunch money being given up. It is time someone said NO. As Obama showed, you must mean it when you say no or else the other side knows you are bluffing.

Others have said why not just target command and control. Well where is the command and control in N.K.? Apparently in the populated areas.

As I have asked of others, how many cities are you willing to sacrifice to same N.K. lives?

If Kim feels he is really backed into a corner and has nothing to lose by shooting off is latest toys does it not save more lives by ending this NOW? Before he lets lose? Before other non-N.K. cities are turned to ash?

Does it not at least make sense to let Kim know that is a valid option for those that stand against him?

Or should we just hand over more lunch money?

Kevin said...

It isn’t reasonable to threaten to “totally destroy” a regime in one breath and then urge them to abandon the only things that ought to guarantee their security from attack in the next.

Trump said: "The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea."

There is a big difference between "I will destroy you", and "if forced to defend my country or its allies there will be no half-measures". One is a threat for which one might believe nuclear weapons might have some protective value. The second describes a situation where there is no option but to attack, no matter how many nukes Li'l Kim has at his disposal.

Anonymous said...

@J farmer Yes. So what is the guy from American Conservative saying? What's his solution? How would he evaluate the US effort over the last 30 years? Does he think Trump is unaware of the Nork arsenal? Does he think that Nork is going to give up it's current campaign without some major change in incentives? Trump didn't threaten to destroy Nork any time he felt like it, he threatened massive retaliation against a possible Nork attack on us or our allies. This is what he actually said: "but if it [the US] is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea."

That paragraph you posted is essentially a bunch of pontificating while avoiding dealing with the facts. Makes me understand better why so many self-styled Conservatives are so ineffective when they actually have to DO something.

You referred to the American Conservative yesterday on the JCPOA issue and I find their comments on the Trump's UN speech as insipid as I found their comments yesterday.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

Khesanh 0802,

The guy from AC is using words to express Kelly's face palm:

http://people.com/politics/john-kelly-face-palming-trump-un-speech-photo/


Matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

Of course the Washington Post calls the speech "Menacing" What does the post call North Korea's launching of missiles?

Comanche Voter said...

Oh I don't know about the Rocket Man--as applied to that crazy fat little runt in North Korea. He's more a Quad 50 or "Duster" Man. If he's not poisoning his brother or cousin in Singapore, he likes to execute people with a piece of anti aircraft artillery. A Quad 50 or "Duster" is a group of four 50 caliber machine guns (or in the communist world 51 caliber).

He put his ex girlfriend in front of one of those Dusters and had his cabinet members watch as she was blown to pieces. A ten second burst from one of those at close range--and what was left of the girlfriend could pass for hamburger. He's done others in similar fashion. I think there was an uncle he killed.

Kim Jong Un is one of Nature's mistakes.

Ralph L said...

We haven't invaded North Korea since 1950, so they don't need nukes to protect themselves.

J. Farmer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. Farmer said...

@Ralph L:

We haven't invaded North Korea since 1950, so they don't need nukes to protect themselves.

We've had 25,000 troops on his border for over half a century and have worked to overtly and covertly undermine the regime for decades.

AJ Lynch said...

I bet the NK military leaders and the NK people view Kim and his lunacy a bit differently after they hear him mocked as Rocket Man. Trump's nickname might serve to sow the seeds for a coup in NK.

Narayanan Subramanian said...

Rocket Boy would be a diminisher ... Rocket Man gives flexibility. No nuclear weapons program ... Incentivize to hop scotch into space exploration??!!

J. Farmer said...

@Khesanh 0802:

You referred to the American Conservative yesterday on the JCPOA issue and I find their comments on the Trump's UN speech as insipid as I found their comments yesterday.

That's fine. Just tell me where they are incorrect, and then we can talk. Saying that you find something insipid has nothing to do with its correctness or not.

That paragraph you posted is essentially a bunch of pontificating while avoiding dealing with the facts. Makes me understand better why so many self-styled Conservatives are so ineffective when they actually have to DO something.

Larison and many other writers on foreign policy have been answering that question for years in numerous posts. If you are not familiar with this work, then you should not make aspersions about these writers.

Here is Larison's writings on the subject just in the past month.
Here is Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association
Here is Andrew Bacevich, retired Army Colonel and professor of history
Here is Paul Pillar, 28-year veteran of the CIA

AllenS said...

At the end of the speech, Trump should have said: "Watch this drive." Then, showed the video of him driving a golf ball, and it hitting Hillary in the back, making her take a nose dive into the plane.

Winning.

Roost on the Moon said...

Lunch money and bullies. I guess I've never noticed how simple the situation can be when you look at the right way. Well, you've given me a lot to think about. Or a lot less? Anyway, it feels better.

Will Cate said...

I also love the Rocket Man thing.

Think about the past two years: when Trump puts a nickname on you, you're toast, baby...

Bob Boyd said...

"Incentivize to hop scotch into space exploration??!!"

Think we could trick Rocket Man into going to the moon?

Rt1 Rebel said...

"Rocket man thought his rockets cause intimidation and fear. Now every time he fires another rocket he's seen as a big, fat joke."

Boxty wins this thread early.

antiphone said...

Think about the past two years: when Trump puts a nickname on you, you're toast, baby...

A great leader makes much toast for domestic consumption! Soon we shall have butter too.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

Rocket midget. I know - Midget is not PC.

Michael K said...

We've had 25,000 troops on his border for over half a century and have worked to overtly and covertly undermine the regime for decades.
The Norks have done far worse and there are better reasons for watching them than most other foreign policies.

The truce line is heavily fortified by the North, they have attacked and killed our soldiers in the DMZ. They infiltrated terrorists like Hezbollah does to Israel. The Pueblo captured and a SK ship was sunk in the last couple of years.

South Korea is a huge success story in Asia, and, while I agree they could do a lot of their own defense, they do.

China has used NK as a cats paw for decades.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

It really is genius. Most of the world population has Elton John singing in their heads.

Hari said...

In a game theory, there is no more effective strategy than tit for tat. Kim is taunting Trump. Trump is responding in kind. It turns out that millions of lives may be saved by the fact that Trump is better at playing my-dick-is-bigger-than-your-dick than he is at winning a hypothetical in moot court.

Michael McClain said...

Lil' Kim is nice and fat while his people starve. Could've called Lil' Kim "Fat Boy with the Bad Haircut."

J. Farmer said...

@Michael K:

The Norks have done far worse and there are better reasons for watching them than most other foreign policies.

That might be true, but "watching them" does not require keeping 25,000 US service members in harm's way in order to continue an anachronistic Cold War arrangement. Plus, my comment was directed towards someone who was making a point about North Korean security concerns. I do not see any reason why we need to be involved in patrolling the border of another country. Let the South Koreans handle it. Plus, we would still have a military presence in the region by virtue of our Japanese bases.

Bad Lieutenant said...

So none of you are in the least bit bothered that Trump, in front of the United Nations, threatened to commit a crime against humanity and kill hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocent civilians?

If I were to accept your framing,

God, no!

But I don't accept it.

Aren't you at all bothered by Nork nuke-brandishing, all the while running a system that has done more harm to the North Korean people than an atomic war?

J. Farmer said...

@Bad Lieutenant:

Aren't you at all bothered by Nork nuke-brandishing, all the while running a system that has done more harm to the North Korean people than an atomic war?

Being "bothered" by something is a wholly separate question from what you think you should do about and what you think you can realistically accomplish. And as shitty a lot as the average North Korean may have, I am willing to bet most of them prefer it to death, so I don't think you can reasonably say that the regime does more harm than "an atomic war."

But also, many people believe that while nuclear weapons in North Korea is undesirable, we have the resources to effectively constrain them without leading to a catastrophic war on the peninsula that could easily pull in regional great powers like China and Russia. Beyond south of the DMZ, there is no sign that the Kim regime has expansionist goals or objectives. And the South Koreans have more than enough wealth and military resources to deter Kim's dilapidated military power. North Korea is one of the most isolated countries on the planet. All the evidence points to the fact that North Korea wants these weapons primarily to protect against an outside invasion.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

"Could've called Lil' Kim "Fat Boy..."

Sure, or "Little Boy" or "Fat Man."

Lance said...

Patton called Hitler a "paper-hanging sonofabitch". Did Patton not take Hitler seriously?

David Begley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Begley said...

Low Energy Jeb and Crooked Hillary worked so why wouldn't Rocket Man?

That's who Trump is.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

You wreck your credibility if you yourself sound like a dangerous nut.

So it's not really Trump's bona-fide lunacy that bothers you - just how he "sounds" and his credibility.

It's country last, personality cult first, with you Trumpers.

Pettifogger said...

The Rocket-Man comment is symptomatic of what got Trump elected. He's not business-as-usual. Trump is an arrogant, uncouth jerk. George W., on the other hand, was a nice guy, but he could not/would not break the grip of the Deep State. Trump may not do so, either, but the voters decided to give him a try.

pious agnostic said...

Trump should have simply said that an attack upon North Korea would be very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort, unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.

Because that would work.

Michael K said...

". Let the South Koreans handle it. Plus, we would still have a military presence in the region by virtue of our Japanese bases."

We had Japanese bases in June 1950.

If SK starts going pacifist, as they have flirted with in recent years a few times, I would agree.

We have more troops in Europe, Why ?

Currently, the United States has 116,400 military personnel from all four services assigned to its European Command, an organization that oversees U.S. military affairs in 93 countries spanning Europe, North Africa, and part of the Middle East. Roughly two-thirds of these—56,000 soldiers and 15,000 airmen—live and work in Germany. MTurkey, Britain, and Italy each host several thousand soldiers, too.

Why ?

rhhardin said...

Maybe Trump is combining bluster with clarabell.

wildswan said...

The North Korean famine is estimated to have killed 600,00 to 3,000,000 people. The North Koreans themselves say it was 2,500,000 to 3,000,000 from 1995 to 1998. And since then many have died because they were debilitated by the famine years.

About 400,000 people have died in the slave labor camps and there are about 200,000 currently imprisoned there.

So the Kim regime is as destructive as a nuclear weapon of its own people in addition to threatening to use nuclear weapons on the US and South Korea. Next move, up to you, Rocketman.

J. Farmer said...

@Michael K:

We had Japanese bases in June 1950.

As I have said before in previous threads, the US-Japanese military alliance is one of the few I would support. We have intimate attachments with Japan thinks to the Second World War, and the alliance provides an appropriate amount of leverage in dealing with China. I am not for a security alliance with South Korea or for the stationing of troops on the Korean peninsula.

If SK starts going pacifist, as they have flirted with in recent years a few times, I would agree.

I don't think there is any any evidence of South Korea ever flirting with "going pacifist." First, I think that is completely antithetical to the personality of the average South Korean. Second, that would imply that they would not defend themselves against an attack by the North. While the South Koreans are willing to stomach occasional provocative acts by the North, they do not have a desire to star a war, which would be far more destructive than the occasional aggression from the North, which is obviously operating from a markedly weaker position than the south.

We have more troops in Europe, Why ?

You're pushing on an open door with me. I don't want those troops in Europe. I want them out. I don't believe in NATO, though I would support a military alliance with the UK. An intelligence foreign policy with regard to Europe would involve partnering with the Russians and leveraging the Europeans between us. Pushing NATO up against Russian borders needlessly agitates a potential great power partner and gets the US virtually nothing of strategic value in return. What exactly is a war guarantee to Latvia or Estonia worth to America? The US made an agreement with Russia in the early 1990s that involved securing Russian support for a unified Germany in NATO with guarantees not to expand NATo any further east.

D said...

Upthread someone posits that it is either "peace or a holocaust of innocents."

Meaning, basically, whatever X does, if it means Y decides to launch at Seoul, X is wrong, and is to blame for the disaster.

Hot damn, I disagree with you. Your equation is focused on making sure X is ultimately to blame, to the point that you do not allow Y his own agency. I hope you re-think what you said.

On the other foot, I will say that J Farmer has - for several weeks - presented his rationale for de-escalation, if not acceptance of a new (nuclear) reality, and done so without getting snarky, unless snark was rocketed his way.

I wont say I agree with all his points, but damn, i give him credit for presenting it without repeated insults, as he has been repeatedly challenged on them. I credit his patience in responding, where it is evident many do not think that it is entirely a "defensive" maneouvere.

I would say that it would seem that a nuclear South Korea, a nuclear Japan, and hells bells why not a nuclear Philippines is not too far off.

And if not, why not?

J. Farmer said...

Trump said this during his UN General Assembly Speech:

The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy.

Now, from an American perspective, why is this a criticism of Iran? After all, America has close relationships with many corrupt dictatorship, several of which does not even hide "behind the false guise of a democracy." Now, you can obviously make the easy realist argument that we need to make deals with such unsavory regimes because of our greater interest. A cliche allusion to the our arrangement with Stalin against Hitler is usually not far behind. But in fact, the realist argument is that human beings are primarily motivated by things either than commitment to ideals. Revolutionary fervor tends to burn itself out rather quickly in favor for hard-headed, pragmatic leaders, since self-preservation often demands this. The US may preach revolutionary ideals of natural rights and self-government (something no society has been able to yet achieve), but it most frequently acts in a (totally predictably) self-interested manner.

Saudi Arabia and Turkey are both close US partners in the middle east, and Turkey is a NATO ally. Both countries fund, support, and train foreign guerrilla forces to wage asymmetric warfare against a state. And yet, how often do we hear either state described as a "state sponsor of terror." Both countries have rushed into Syria to support forces that are contributing to the destabilization of the Syrian state. Saudi Arabis was supporting Sunni fighters in western Iraq during the insurgency period (i.e. helping getting US soldiers killed). Trump recently lavished the regime with praise and has signaled them a free hand in their useless destructive war on Yemen (which didn't merit a mention in Trump's speech) and in their backfiring attempt to isolate Qatar.

So while US partners in the region are involved in aggressive wars against neighbors, destabilizing governments, and funding Sunni extremist groups, we are constantly obsessed with a supposed Iranian menace, whose most significant action in the region have been to support Hamas and Hezbollah, which are minuscule players in the major conflicts going on in the region. Hezbollah is confined to Lebanon and has no territorial or expansionist goals. Hamas has power only in the Gaza strip, a place with less than 2,000,000 people. In terms of supporting and exacerbating instability in the region, Turkey and the Arab states are far more to blame in that regard than Iran, whose influence in the Arab world, with the exception of eastern Iraq, is rather limited.

Henry said...

@Matt, you ask a serious question: But the choices the US [and the world] has are not only DO NOTHING or BOMB THEM INTO THE STONE AGE. You seem to think these are the only two choices.

I would counter as follows. I do not think these are the only two choices. I think these define the limits of this slow-motion crisis. One limit is do nothing. The other limit is nuclear bombardment. Though we should be very clear that the nuclear bombardment option is not one that Trump has proposed. If one limit is "totally destroy it" we can easily do that with conventional weapons. North Korean can easily destroy the south with conventional artillery. There is no military conflict in the Korean peninsula without millions dead.

Trump used his U.N. speech to define one of the limits of the choice. IF North Korea attacks THEN U.S. responds. That doesn't preclude other responses.

I would refer back to the Clinton policy review I linked above. It's a painful read. The Clinton policy was to negotiate with North Korea, attempt whatever (minor) push back on their nuclear armament program they could, and play for time. Quote:

Under present circumstances, therefore, deterrence of war on the Korean Peninsula is stable on both sides, in military terms. While always subject to miscalculation by the isolated North Korean government, there is no military calculus that would suggest to the North Koreans anything but catastrophe from armed conflict. This relative stability, if it is not disturbed, can provide the time and conditions for all sides to pursue a permanent peace on the Peninsula...

The tragedy is that we bought time and failed to change conditions. All the carefully curated evidence that the U.S. could halt or slow DPRK plutonium production has been exposed as folly. Perhaps we slowed the regime's efforts but we had no impact on their determination.

The result now is that we are in the situation described in the 1997 report as an outcome we must avoid:

DPRK acquisition of nuclear weapons and continued development, testing, deployment, and export of long-range missiles would undermine the relative stability of deterrence on the Korean Peninsula, a precondition for ending the Cold War and pursuing a lasting peace in the longer run. These activities by the DPRK also have serious regional and global consequences adverse to vital U.S. interests. The United States must, therefore, have as its objective ending these activities.

The negotiations of the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations -- negotiation, deterrence, and buy-out -- have resulted in the current situation. Trump has done nothing but restate the last remaining plank of this Raft of the Medusa: deterrence.

I refer to David Ignatius (Washington Post), who sums things up as well as anyone:

When you discount the rhetorical overkill, the most surprising thing about President Trump’s address to the United Nations on Tuesday was how conventional it was. He supported human rights and democracy; he opposed rogue regimes; he espoused a global community of strong, sovereign nations. Pretty shocking stuff.

...It’s a restatement of the existing U.S. policy of nuclear deterrence.

Again, the biggest responsibility of the U.S. in response to North Korea is two-fold:

1. Deter the DPRK from using its weapons (conventional or nuclear)
2. Make sure the reprehensible, provocative, destabilizing* DPRK government is utterly aware of U.S. objectives.

Those are the parameters of the problem. Given this, what is the current administration to say?

---

*I quote from the Office of the North Korea Policy Coordinator, United States Department of State. “Review of United States Policy Toward North Korea: Findings and Recommendations.” , October 12, 1999.

J. Farmer said...

@Henry:I refer to David Ignatius (Washington Post), who sums things up as well as anyone:

When you discount the rhetorical overkill, the most surprising thing about President Trump’s address to the United Nations on Tuesday was how conventional it was. He supported human rights and democracy; he opposed rogue regimes; he espoused a global community of strong, sovereign nations. Pretty shocking stuff.


I agree with Ignatius that much of it was pretty boilerplate stuff. Which was the problem. It was utterly establishment its content if not in the tone it was expressed. George W. Bush could have made the same exact speech a decade and a half ago. And as the saying goes, words are cheap. It's what the US does that matter. And so far the US has signaled it will pursue an aggressive, confrontational approach to North Korea. Those on my side of the argument say this is likely to prove counterproductive and ineffectual. The administration has said it will seek to undermine the Iranian deal. Those on my side of the argument say that the Iranian deal was a good deal and will be effective at constraining Iran's nuclear program. This notion that North Korea believes the US will not defend itself or its allies because of some politicking over a so called red line in Syria. For the last two decades, the US has waged war in at least 8 different countries and has been involved in regime change operations with American boots on the ground in numerous countries. So, looking at this, the North Koreans assume the US will not use force? And yet, a primary motivate for the nuclear program is the belief that it is the only way the North could withstand an attack from an outside great power. But if North Korea believed that the US would back down in the face of provocation, why not simply commence a conventional attack on the South? How would nuclear weapons change any of these strategic calculuses?

bgates said...

If I am taking anyone's side it is the millions of poor, innocent North Korean civilians that Trump has threatened to destroy.

Fredo's preferred speech:

"The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, I will have no choice but to begin a precisely targeted military response. And let me be perfectly clear: this would be a military response that would not allow for even the possibility of the loss of innocent civilian life. My administration would carefully monitor the military at all levels, from the targeting selection of the Air Force's nuclear arsenal down to the aim of each infantryperson's rifle, and we would not permit the use of force by any member of America's armed forces unless it could be proved to the satisfaction of legal authorities at the highest levels of military leadership and civilian oversight that such proposed use of force was guaranteed not to harm a single one of the millions of poor, innocent North Korean civilians."

J. Farmer said...

@bgates:

Nobody who is not a pacifist denies that loss of innocent life is an inevitable function of war. But the reason those extremes are permitted is because war should be an extreme thing, an option of absolute last resort when all other avenues of avoiding conflict have been avoided. War is permissible in respond to an attack or to thwart an impending attack. But what is being advocated by many here is not merely preemptive war, but preventive war. A preventive war is to attack another power when there is neither an imminent attack nor an even known planned attack. It is too attack another country not based on its present threat but on some future threat that may or may not occur in some indeterminate time in the future. This, I believe, is not an acceptable cause for war. And the simplest test for this case is to ask if we would accept the standard ourselves. If a group of powers like Europe, Russia, China, and Japan were to get together and say they considered some internal behavior of ours a threat to global security, demanded that we halted or altered this behavior, and threatened us with punitive sanctions and military attack if we did not comply, how do you think we would react? What we should rightfully tell countries who attempt to interfere in our affairs is to butt out. But we should similarly not be surprised if we get the same response.

Henry said...

@J. Farmer -- Good questions. I guess one question in return is why did the DPRK continue to pursue nuclear missile capability during the light-handed Obama administration?

If Trump had used his U.N. address (or any other opportunity) to promote a policy of U.S. isolationism -- or non-confrontationalism -- it would be very interesting to see the reaction. I agree with Ignatius -- and you -- that what Trump has offered is a the status quo with a more heat. It's the same shot, but with cheaper whiskey. My point is simply that Trump's speech represents a status quo policy and one that is forced upon him, given the status quo.

Given the historical strength of our ties with Japan and South Korea, I'm willing to accept this status quo. Trump's buy-in to the Afghanistan status quo is more dispiriting than how we deal with a rogue nuclear power.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

wildswan 6:48

Kim is a nuke to his own people. It's too bad the world lacks the will to make it stop.

Sebastian said...

"George W. Bush could have made the same exact speech." No. Trump moved a couple of steps in your direction, Farmer: somewhat critical of immigration, insistent on the value of nations, stressing the importance of sovereignty and national (self)interest, scathing toward Venezuela, offering the U.S. only as example (not vindicator). To be sure, he didn't seem to want to take direction from the CCP on the need for "stability" in East Asia and sounded a little dubious that Rocket Man would leave us in peace if we just butt out.

J. Farmer said...

@Henry:

@J. Farmer -- Good questions. I guess one question in return is why did the DPRK continue to pursue nuclear missile capability during the light-handed Obama administration?

Of course, we could ask the same question about why it continued to pursue nuclear weapons during the more aggressive approach by the Bush administration. I think Iraq and Libya were both big influences on North Korea's strategic calculus. Both countries had given up their nuclear weapons programs, including Gaddafi in exchange for sanctions relief and diplomatic normalization. And don't forget that North Korea was identified as part of an "axis of evil" and then watched the first member of that axis get invaded and destroyed. And there were many implied threats that Iran would be next. Whether or not we or Israel was going to drop bombs Iran was frequently written and bandied about (e.g. "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran").

My point is simply that Trump's speech represents a status quo policy and one that is forced upon him, given the status quo.

That is not necessarily true. Trump could easily de-escalate and use a more backdoor balance of power arrangement to the region than the constant resorting to the sledgehammer approach like some kind of insecure hegemon. Diplomatic engagement and de-escalation are the best avenues for easing tensions on the peninsula.

Bad Lieutenant said...

J. Farmer said...
Trump said this during his UN General Assembly Speech:

The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy.

Now, from an American perspective, why is this a criticism of Iran?




Farmer defend Iran? Don't be ridiculous!

J. Farmer said...

@Sebastian:

Trump moved a couple of steps in your direction, Farmer: somewhat critical of immigration, insistent on the value of nations, stressing the importance of sovereignty and national (self)interest, scathing toward Venezuela, offering the U.S. only as example (not vindicator).

If Trump's actions or proposed actions more closely matched this quoted rhetoric, I'd be far more sanguine. Instead, Trump's speech was full of aggressive rhetoric dictating to countries conditions on their own internal affairs. Regardless of how corrupt the Maduro government may be or how dysfunctional the Venezuelan economy may be, it is not a vital national interest of the Untied States, and we should not inject ourselves unnecessarily into that conflict. Denouncing the Maduro government in those terms in fact plans directly into Maduro's hands, by allowing him to paint the United States as an international bully and claim that the economic calamities of his country are a result of economic sabotage by the US rather than sclerotic centrally planned half-baked Leninism. When the US denounces the regime with that kind of rhetoric, it helps to undermine the opposition and lend credence to wild conspiracy theorists among government supporters. Trump all but said that he wants his will opposed on certain states by pressure from the outside. You can call this what you like, but I don't think you can call it "stressing the importance of sovereignty and national (self)interest."

J. Farmer said...

@Bad Lieutenant:

Farmer defend Iran? Don't be ridiculous!

Way to completely miss my point by boiling it down into the simplest criticism possible. Of course, even if I were defending Iran, it would have no difference on whether or not what I was saying was true or false or right or wrong. As it happens, I am not "defending Iran" at all but rather pointing out the United States' blatant hypocrisy on the matter of "dictatorship." Given that we partner all over the world and gave aid and material and political and diplomatic support to "corrupt dictatorships," then complaining about such regimes is going to wring a bit hollow. I wrote about 400 words answering the question you quoted, and you apparently do not have a reply to any of it.

Sebastian said...

"You can call this what you like, but I don't think you can call it "stressing the importance of sovereignty and national (self)interest."" I can, compared to Bush -- which was my point. Trump differed in tone, key points, and emphasis. He didn't "all but" say that "he wants his will opposed on certain states by pressure from the outside," though he most certainly did mean to apply pressure. But the Maduros of the world don't need any Trumpian assists to paint us as bullies.

Of course, America as a nation has the odd quality to think of itself as ushering in the novus ordo seclorum. Doesn't mean we do or should intervene when we can, as we please, but it does mean that a form of nationalism that denies our actual history and our actual values isn't going to carry much weight in foreign policy, quite apart from the realpolitik considerations any great power must take seriously.

Lucien said...

So I supported Trump as basically the worst possible candidate there was, except for the other candidate, Hillary.

After this speech, I'm kind of thinking he might have my vote in 2020, regardless of the opposition. This was a great speech, the likes of which we haven't heard in America since Reagan.

Henry said...

I think Iraq and Libya were both big influences on North Korea's strategic calculus.

It's late, so I'm not about to write another essay, but I think we need to go back to the Libya timeline (if not the Iraqi) to figure out what lessons North Korea might have drawn from the last 8 years, if not the last 16.

But we really don't have any idea what lessons North Korea is drawing from the U.S. State Department / Defense Department Venn diagram. It's a profoundly isolated country with a deeply paranoid leadership.

If anything, what Trump has demonstrated since taking office is a reliance on military professionals for military guidance so he can wing it in Europe and the Americas. That seems to be confusing to a lot of people, but ends up looking like the status quo to me, for better or for worse.

rcocean said...

"George W. Bush could have made the same exact speech."

Nope. At heart, Bush-2 is a Wilsonian Crusader and Internationalist. "Invade the world, invite the world" is his motto.

Like Jeb!, or McCain, he thinks the USA exists to serve the world. Of course, being an insulated Multi-Millionaire allows you to be generous.

Trump isn't that. He's a "traitor to his class".

Tim said...
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Stephen said...

If you have a person whose stability is in question and who has nuclear weapons, is humiliating him the best strategy?

If you are trying to garner support in the international community, and you are aware of the complex politics of racism and colonialism and your own international reputation for insensitivity on those issues, is humiliating an Asian leader the best strategy?

If you are a foreign policy novice, and your advisors have suggested a different phrasing (which seems almost certain here) is rejecting their advice a good strategy?

So the base likes it. That's a lousy criterion for judging foreign policy. The based liked escalating in Vietnam and invading Iraq too.

Many are comforting themselves with the fact that Trump won the election, but that was good luck. Two weeks before or two weeks after the actual election day, Trump loses.

So how do we like our President flying by the seat of his pants/rolling the dice in a nuclear confrontation?

walter said...

Yes Stephen, that phrase totally disrepects the Dong.

walter said...

Maybe throwing that jab into the speech assures Li'l Kim (A more Trumpian insult) listens to some of it.

Gahrie said...

And don't forget that North Korea was identified as part of an "axis of evil" and then watched the first member of that axis get invaded and destroyed. And there were many implied threats that Iran would be next. Whether or not we or Israel was going to drop bombs Iran was frequently written and bandied about (e.g. "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran").

Ok..You've convinced me. The problem isn't the fact that North Korea has been ruled by a family of homicidal maniacs for the last seventy years that are intent on conquering South Korea and who preside over the most oppressive police state in the world.

It's our fault of course.

Gahrie said...

And don't forget that North Korea was identified as part of an "axis of evil" and then watched the first member of that axis get invaded and destroyed. And there were many implied threats that Iran would be next. Whether or not we or Israel was going to drop bombs Iran was frequently written and bandied about (e.g. "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran").

Somebody might read this paragraph and come to the conclusion that Both North Korea and Iran were being defended here....but of course I don't.

J. Farmer said...
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J. Farmer said...

@Gahrie:

Ok..You've convinced me. The problem isn't the fact that North Korea has been ruled by a family of homicidal maniacs for the last seventy years that are intent on conquering South Korea and who preside over the most oppressive police state in the world.

It's our fault of course.


Once again you are completely missing the point. If you park your car in a bad neighborhood, leave the keys in the ignition and the engine running, and then find it stolen, it is not your "fault" that it was stolen (the fault lies with the car thief), but you did take several foolish steps to the increase the likelihood of it being stolen. One can make that observation without defending the fact that the car was stolen.

Somebody might read this paragraph and come to the conclusion that Both North Korea and Iran were being defended here....but of course I don't.

Of course you do, and of course you're still incorrect. To take another example, after the first Gulf War in the early 1990s, it was widely reported that the speed and efficiency with which the US military defeated Saddam's Iraq shocked the Chinese and was a catalyst for them to modernize and improve their military forces. It's not "defending" the Chinese to point out this observable fact, which people have done for years. And it says nothing of the internal nature of either of the regimes you mentioned. I routinely point out that pushing NATO to Russia's borders is likely to be seen as very provocative by Russia. Making that statement is not "defending" Russia or the nature of its domestic political system. It's describing reality.

And of course, as I have said ad nauseam, it would make no difference to any of my arguments even if I were trying to "defend" North Korea or Iran. All you have to do is tell me why my argument is wrong. Instead, you're trying to impugn my motives, which have nothing to do with the validity of my arguments.

Rob McLean said...

Shorter Farmer: We can't do anything about evil dictators because the USA are hypocrites, and that's totally worse than starving your own people and threatening other nations with nukes.

Hypocrisy: the last taboo.

Lost My Cookies said...

I think it was deliberate, like how G. H. W. Bush would always mis-pronounce Sadam Hussein

tim in vermont said...

Trump stated an obvious fact. If we are attacked we will defend ourselves, and it won't be a long war, hell, after we are done breaking things, we could just hand it over to China as protectorate and tell them not to let it happen again.

Tank said...

This was a remarkably interesting and civil comment thread.

J. Farmer said...

Rob McLean:

Shorter Farmer: We can't do anything about evil dictators because the USA are hypocrites, and that's totally worse than starving your own people and threatening other nations with nukes.

You should have called that “distorting Farmer.” I made nothing like that claim, and the fact that our foreign policy debates are so frequently reduced to such childish terms is part of the problem. My point was that the internal nature of a regime should not determine our foreign policy towards them and I gave several examples to illustrate this.

Robert Cook said...

@ J.Farmer: "...what is being advocated by many here is not merely preemptive war, but preventive war. A preventive war is to attack another power when there is neither an imminent attack nor an even known planned attack. It is too attack another country not based on its present threat but on some future threat that may or may not occur in some indeterminate time in the future. This, I believe, is not an acceptable cause for war."

It is not merely what you believe, but it is, in fact, illegal under the terms of the UN Charter. Our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were illegal as neither was approved by the UN Security Council, nor were they justified under self-defense reasons. The metastasis of our forces into other states and regions in the mid-east is an illegal expansion of our initial illegal invasions.

Henry said...

"...what is being advocated by many here is not merely preemptive war, but preventive war.

I think you need to name names, because I don't see anyone advocating either.

I agree with you that the regime toppling of Iraq could not possibly have helped a long-term negotiated draw-down of North Korean weapons development, but I'm not convinced that we missed an alternate history. The DPRK were developing nuclear weapons when the U.S. simply pursued containment. They were developing nuclear weapons when the Clinton administration (and Jimmy Carter, remember his interference?) attempted negotiation. They were developing nuclear weapons when the Bush administration pursued a harder stance. They were developing nuclear weapons when the Obama administration drifted aimlessly back into negotiation mode. It could be that no matter what policy the US pursued, this paranoid, secretive, disfunctional state was going to get itself some nuclear weapons.

Robert Cook said...

I always wonder, when I see other commenters clumsily trying--and failing--to discredit or rebut J.Farmer's very sensible and well-argued statements--if they are really as stupid as they seem, or if they are being rhetorically obtuse in order to mask the vacuity of their dogmatically jingoistic but intellectually arid counter-statements.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

"-if they are really as stupid as they seem, or if they are being rhetorically obtuse in order to mask the vacuity of their dogmatically jingoistic but intellectually arid counter-statements."

Now that, my friend, is a masterpiece of pot/kettle argumentum.

Rusty said...

" All you have to do is tell me why my argument is wrong. Instead, you're trying to impugn my motives, which have nothing to do with the validity of my arguments."

I've repeatedly shown you where your argument is wrong. Events have conspired to prove me right.

J. Farmer said...

@Rusty:

I've repeatedly shown you where your argument is wrong. Events have conspired to prove me right.

What events are those?

Nihimon said...

"Scott Adams loved Trump's saying "Rocket Man" at the U.N. (Is his reason anything more than: It tweaks the left?)"

I think the reason Adams loves it is because of the effect it generates in the listener's mind. It forces the listener to actually think about the tools Kim has, compared to what he would face if he did anything really dangerous with them.

I suspect the taunt might also have some specific effect in the minds of the people around Kim, but I don't think I'm knowledgeable enough to guess the specifics.

Skippy Tisdale said...

"Michael K said...The Norks will never give up nukes after Hillary showed the consequences but there is some argument that he is in danger of a coup by his own war lords.

I think the term might be part of a strategy to make him look insignificant."


I agree. Recall that George H. W. Bush deliberately mispronounced Saddam Hussein's first name for that very reason. Of course the press called him a moron for not knowing how to correctly pronounce it. Irony, how does it work.

BTW, I saw a special on PBS about the 1968 William F. Buckley / Gore Vidal debates and two things really stood out. First, that Vidal was a total asshole (and continuously and annoyingly interruptive) and what they debated was no different from what's being debated today.

Rusty said...


"What events are those?"

To paraphrase you. I'm not going into to archives. You do the research.

J. Farmer said...

@Rusty:

To paraphrase you. I'm not going into to archives. You do the research.

Ah, I see. I thought that you might remember some of the events that have conspired to prove you right. I am not even sure what it is you're claiming to be "right" about.