May 30, 2009

But North Korea Is Way on the Other Side of the World

Justin Katz

Someday, we'll all look back on global events in 2009 and... well, what? I'm afraid I believe that Mark Steyn offers some accurate clues:

Well, you never know: Maybe we're the ones being parochial. If you're American, it's natural to assume that the North Korean problem is about North Korea, just like the Iraq War is about Iraq. But they're not. If you're starving to death in Pyongyang, North Korea is about North Korea. For everyone else, North Korea and Iraq, and Afghanistan and Iran, are about America: American will, American purpose, American credibility. The rest of the world doesn't observe Memorial Day. But it understands the crude symbolism of a rogue nuclear test staged on the day to honor American war dead and greeted with only half-hearted pro forma diplomatese from Washington. Pyongyang's actions were "a matter of . . . " Drumroll, please! " . . . grave concern," declared the president. Furthermore, if North Korea carries on like this, it will — wait for it — "not find international acceptance." As the comedian Andy Borowitz put it, "President Obama said that the United States was prepared to respond to the threat with 'the strongest possible adjectives . . . ' Later in the day, Defense Secretary Robert Gates called the North Korean nuclear test 'supercilious and jejune.' "

The president's general line on the geopolitical big picture is: I don't need this in my life right now. He's a domestic transformationalist, working overtime — via the banks, the automobile industry, health care, etc. — to advance statism's death grip on American dynamism. His principal interest in the rest of the world is that he doesn't want anyone nuking America before he's finished turning it into a socialist basket-case. This isn't simply a matter of priorities. A United States government currently borrowing 50 cents for every dollar it spends cannot afford its global role, and thus the Obama cuts to missile defense and other programs have a kind of logic: You can't be Scandinavia writ large with a U.S.-sized military.

The scary thing is that a weaker United States of America isn't going to make the world safer. It isn't even going to be a neutral development for world peace and safety.

On the bright side, global war, nuclear attacks, and even political domination might make it more plausible to develop a universal healthcare system that will last the duration of the nation.

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We ignore Asian events at our peril.
Vietnam has ordered 6 "Kilo" class submarines from Russia.They are oceangoing conventionally powered attack subs and are suitable for offensive long range operations as opposed to defensive coastal subs.
Why is this of concern?because the Spratly Islands,rich in oil reserves, are contested by Vietnam and China(PRC).
China and Vietnam are hisrorical enemies.Few people recall that China invaded Vietnam right after the US withdrawal and lost about 40,000 troops.In plain English,they got their asses kicked severely by the Vietnamese Army,who had decades of combat experience.
Russia has been a patron of Vietnam since the end of the French occupation,when they threw their support to Ho Chi Minh.When we were in Vietnam the "man behind the curtain'was the USSR,not China.
A new conflict between China and Vietnam with Russia involved offstage cannot help but affect US relations in the Pacific.In what particular way is uncertain,but you can bet we won't be able to stand around and watch without getting sucked into it in some manner.
US foreign relations are like that guy in the circus trying to keep the plates spinning on the poles,so it behooves the US to keep on top of events that on the surface don't "involve"us.

Posted by: joe bernstein at May 30, 2009 1:19 PM

"supercilious and jejune"

Is he describing a new wine from California or the next nuclear state??

Cripes. Our Defense Secretary is a frustrated New York Times lifestyle reviewer.

Posted by: Monique at May 30, 2009 4:10 PM

Gates is ok-one of Obama's better moves was to keep him and bring on Gen.Jones.
Gates,unlike Biden isn't stupid enough to blurt out his every waking thought to the media.

Posted by: joe bernstein at May 30, 2009 6:00 PM

I stand corrected about Secretary Gates, Joe.

Other than the major risk to national security, Joe Biden's motor mouth is one of the few bright spots in the Obama admin.

Posted by: Monique at May 30, 2009 10:33 PM

On the bright side, global war, nuclear attacks, and even political domination might make it more plausible to develop a universal healthcare system that will last the duration of the nation.

Does North Korea's nuclear tests represent a threat to the U.S.? After reading that last flippant line I don't know if those on the right are really that concerned after all. Whatever or whomever helps block Obama's domestic agenda is fine with them.

Posted by: Phil at May 31, 2009 7:01 AM

We ignore Asian events at our peril.


Do you think that the war in Iraq contibuted to distracting the US from other global issuses?

Posted by: Phil at May 31, 2009 7:09 AM

Absolutely,Phil.I never supported invading Iraq with the Afghan campaign ongoing.It allowed AL Qaida to get strongly established in Waziristan where it is physically/politically more difficult to degrade their capabilities.
I thought the no fly zones and other measures were containing Iraq somewhat effectively,the oil for food scandal notwithstanding.
What I DID support was the Surge,since we were already in it up to our ears,and needed an effective strategy to reach some level of control of the war zone.
I don't know where you ever got the idea I thought invading Iraq was a good move.

Posted by: joe bernstein at May 31, 2009 12:50 PM

I didn't Joe. Obviously you can in this case seperate policy from politics. Others do not. Obama did not create the conditions that he must deal with as President. There may come the time that he engages in a policy that distracts his administration from more important issuses and then I think the right wing criticism may be closer to the mark. ( Although it is usually shrill and over the top)Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. (non- military time clock that is)

Posted by: Phil at May 31, 2009 4:30 PM

Maybe(and I'm not certain)Washington is the only president who could not have said he inherited problems upon taking office.I guess presidents who got re-elected couldn't bitch about that after their first terms either.
Point being,that I recognize Obama inherited a lot of baggage,not just from the Bush administration,but going back quite a while.
The immigration dilemma dates to about 1977 when Carter took office.
The Iraq involvement from 1990.
The Wall Street/banking crisis from the 90's.
The North Korea crisis from 1950!!
I could go on,but I think you get hwere I'm coming from.
Every president is faced with this;it's how they handle it that marks their administration.
I know it's a small thing by today's standards,but the jaunt to NYC that Obama and his wife made sent the wrong signal when he's spouting cap and trade rhetoric that will drive up the utility bills of people like us.
Obama has to understand this(one of his pet phrases):when you get to wear the big hat,the yuppie/foodie lifestyle has to be moderated sharply.
"Do as I say,not as I do"has lost its currency in these times.

Posted by: joe bernstein at May 31, 2009 5:17 PM

"Does North Korea's nuclear tests represent a threat to the U.S.?"

No question, yes.

Posted by: Patrick at May 31, 2009 10:41 PM
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