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The PJ Tatler

by
Robert Wargas

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April 5, 2013 - 12:20 pm

Kim Jong-un right now is like the drunk meathead in the bar on Saturday night, strutting around looking for a fight. There is almost nothing that can be done to defuse the situation except to leave.

The North Korean regime is, as scholars like B.R. Myers have noted, based on a certain kind of rhetoric and spin-doctoring. This is piped into society on a constant basis through DPRK propaganda channels. It really doesn’t matter what the U.S. government says to North Korea: if we rebuke them strongly, Pyongyang spins it as imperialist aggression; if we stay quiet, Pyongyang spins it as Yankee cowardice.

Think of the meathead in the bar again. If you talk back to him, he wants to fight. If you look away, you’re considered weak and he wants to fight. Back-and-forth exchanges are pointless and have only one outcome: his desired, pre-conceived outcome of conflict. Just leave.

What’s the international/diplomatic equivalent of “leaving” in this case? Quiet strength. Washington should quietly and calmly prepare for conflict while ignoring Kim Jong-un’s rhetoric. Whatever strength he has is based on that rhetoric, and by refusing to respond, we remove its persuasive power. We’ve already rebuked him. That’s fine and justified, but once is enough. North Korea and the world know our position. Do not legitimize Kim’s aggression further by responding rhetorically. He will say we’re weak, but he says that already. Nothing will change. Respond strategically instead.

This will not damage U.S. prestige. Prestige is based on strength and soft power, among other things. The Pentagon seems to be following this strategy. Good. It claims to be “reducing” rhetoric, though ours was never amped up in the first place–quite moderate, in fact, which is where it should stay, as that befits a mature superpower. No, libertarians and paleocons, missile-defense systems on Guam is not “aggression”; it is quiet, efficient strength. Bear in mind, however, that another war in the Korean peninsula itself would be an absolute disaster. Thousands upon thousands would die. China could be sucked in, based on who initiates. Everybody just take a deep breath and stay calm.

Once again, remaining strong but quiet is the only conceivable option to defuse the situation. It’s unclear whether Pyongyang truly wants a war. What they want, however, is immaterial, as the situation is now based on the minutiae of strategy and subtle military movements. The slightest one could tip the scales, regardless of what any leader wants. As crazy as Kim sounds, I think he’s lucid enough to know that initiating conflict against the U.S., or a U.S.-backed ally, will be suicide. Then again, he knows that goading the U.S. into making a wrong move could mean that he could spin it as a U.S.-initiated conflict, thus drawing in China and starting a global agitprop war against the U.S.

That’s my two cents for now.

Robert Wargas is a regular contributor to PJ Media. A native of Long Island, he was educated at the City University of New York and Yale University, and has contributed reports and opinion pieces to Newsday and FrontPage Magazine on a range of topics. He also maintains an independent blog at http://robertwargas.typepad.com. Outside of his political writing, Wargas has worked as a professional historian for a large cancer-research institution, documenting the history of biotechnology since the 1970s. He can be reached at rwargas22@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobertWargas

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All Comments   (8)
All Comments   (8)
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meanwhile nobody is watching what's going on in iran or syria
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Bars have bouncers. You don't have to leave, the bouncers will make meathead leave. You need another analogy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Nonsense. We are at war with NK. According to the Armistice agreement, either side can re-initiate warfare with 24 hours notice. NK has done that. They have repudiated the Armistice. They are also threatening to use their nukes. they are deploying those nukes. You do not hold back. All evidence shows he does indeed intend to launch those nukes, even if you personally doubt it, thinking it just rhetoric.

Nuke that lousy country from top to bottom and end this. Let not one stone remain upon another. Shoot a few of them, as a lesson to the rest.

Besides, it is also something we can afford, as opposed to some ground war or some such.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
At a moment we know where Kim is -- particularly if he's accompanied by other high-ranking officials -- nuke that site.

Then deny any involvement, stating regrets that the North Korean regime was playing with such dangerous weapons.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"At a moment we know where Kim is -- particularly if he's accompanied by other high-ranking officials -- nuke that site."

I agree but would suggest we use conventional bombs. I understand that some of them are considerably more powerful than nukes and therefore more likely to be successful. They wouldn't produce fallout either. Remember, the objective should be to decapitate the leadership of the country, not annihilate the entire population. The vast majority of North Koreans are essentially slaves to their regime and don't deserve to be killed for their inability to dislodge the Kim Dynasty through their own efforts.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I attended post-graduate school with a guy who played in the NFL for 10+ years and he was a hulking beast, 6'7" 300lbs, and he once told me that little shrimpy guys were constantly picking fights with him, saying they could 'kick his butt' etc., & most of the time he just ignored them, but occasionally the provocation went too far whereby he had to take action. The strongest, toughest, baddest-ass guy in the room doesn't flaunt his power - he knows he can kick everyone else's butt so he quietly goes about his business. It's only when someone pushes him too far that his inner Incredible Hulk is awakened.

Same thing here. KJu is a pint-sized, narcissistic nitwit running a country (if you can call it that) who thinks he's tough when he's really not, and flexes his 98-lb weakling muscles at every turn. Consequently, if he pushes the real tough guy too far . . . watch out.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Normally, I would agree with you. However, we find ourselves saddled with the likes of Obama, Biden and Kerry, none of whom strike anyone as tough. It's a lot more like the 98 lb weakling picking on the nerds and preppies than taking on the giant linebacker.

I only hope America's military hasn't been so weakened that our generals are incapable of leading a military effort against North Korea should it come to that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Agreed, when we have President Nancypants, The Assistant Village Idiot and Mr. Teresa Heinz as our triumvirate, it's kind of hard to take us seriously.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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