Friday, September 22, 2017

The Worst Chicken Game: Trump vs Kim Jong Un

My feelings are thus:
Yes.  Yes, we can.

Trump seems determined to start two new ones on top of the several the US is already fighting (yes, way over the war cap).  First, the slightly less* catastrophic conflict would be a war with Iran after tossing out the nuclear deal.  After all, how does one stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons if one does not rely on diplomacy?  This is the war some folks have been seeking for quite some time, and Trump seems determined to start it.  While the Iran deal is not perfect and does not address all other kinds of bad Iranian behavior, thus far, they seem to be playing by the rules.  Which means that Iran is currently not on a path to become .... North Korea.
*  A war with Iran would cost the US trillions of dollars, probably break the US army, and close down the Strait of Hormuz, which, in turn, would lead to oil prices rocketing and, thus, recession, inflation, stagflation, etc.  And that is probably an optimistic evaluation that ignores Iran's ability to escalate elsewhere.
North Korea? Thanks to Trump's threats, Kim Jong Un has written his own letter, a first apparently, that has suggested he might test a nuclear tipped ICBM somewhere in the Pacific.  This would be really, really bad, and that might be my understatement of 2017.  Not only bad for the environment and for whatever ships that might be nearby, but something might go wrong, leading the missile to spread radioactive debris across a hunk of the Pacific and maybe near/over Japan. 

Worse, we are in the most dangerous stage of nuclear development--when one country has some nuclear warheads, some ability to deliver them but no assurance that these systems can survive a first strike.  Which means that North Korea is probably on a hair trigger and will launch on warning.  We know from the recent death of the Soviet official who prevented World War III that warning systems can provoke a response even when one is not needed.  To make matters worse, the President of the US is making North Korea feel as if an attack is imminent.  Use or lose?  That is the question that faces Kim Jong Un today.  He does not have to be irrational to be most concerned about Trump and his threats.  Hopefully, his Chinese friends are telling him that Trump is a paper tiger.  Oh wait, that's not good either. 

Is this the most dangerous moment in the world since the Cuban Missile Crisis?  Maybe not, but we can probably see it from here. We call it tomorrow or next week.  Trump is making this worse and worse because his ego is involved and he does not have the temperament to be President. Profoundly unqualified.  I forget what I said months ago about which war was most likely--Iran or North Korea.  I guess I would prefer the former to the latter, as the former would only push much of the world into recession and kill lots of Americans and Iranians.  The latter would be utterly devastating to Japan, South Korea and North Korea and push the world into a far deeper recession (much of the world's trade goes through the South China Sea). 

So, yeah, I am panicking now.  How are you?

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