Free Markets, Free People

diplomacy


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 24 Nov 13

This week, Bruce McQuain makes his triumphant–albeit mean-spirited and cruel–return, to talk with Michael and Dale about Iran, The Census Bureau. and the Senate’s filibuster rules.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

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North Korean threats continue to escalate

Apparently Marshall Poppin Fresh is still mouthing off about war. Now his state run media has issued a warning to “foreigners” in South Korea:

North Korea issued its latest dispatch of ominous rhetoric on Tuesday, telling foreigners in South Korea they should take steps to secure shelter or evacuation to protect themselves.

The unnerving message, announced by state-run media, follows a warning from the North last week to diplomats in

its capital city, Pyongyang, that if war were to break out, it would not be able to guarantee their safety.

North Korea has unleashed a torrent of dramatic threats against the United States and South Korea in recent weeks, but many analysts have cautioned that much of what it is saying is bluster.

It appears what we’re likely to see is some missile tests in lieu of “war”. Why? Well the WSJ says:

While a missile launch would be seen as a major provocation, South Korean and U.S. officials have repeatedly said there are no signs that North Korea is preparing for any kind of attack. Instead, a missile test and possibly a new nuclear test by the North are seen as efforts to keep tensions high, hone the isolated state’s weapons technology and send an internal message of military strength.

Trust me, we have the means to know and we certainly know what “war prep” would look like. Massive mobilization

and extensive troop movements would be easily spotted. Apparently none of that is happening.

In fact, we may find war to be less of a threat the more belicose they are, if you want to believe the experts and the NORK record:

Experts and officials say that while the current period of harsh language and provocative behavior still carries a risk of accidentally spilling into military confrontation, North Korea’s record shows it poses more of a threat when it is not making warlike statements.

“I worry more about North Korea when they are not rattling the saber,” said Scott Snyder, an expert on North and South Korea at the Council on Foreign Relations, a U.S. think tank.

Acts of aggression from North Korea, experts note, are almost always surprise attacks designed to cower South Korean administrations that have taken a tough line with the North or that aren’t providing sufficient aid.

Note the last phrase. In fact, all of this may be North Korea simply establishing a bargaining position.

We’ll see.

~McQ


Two can play this game

Benjamin Netanyahu has decided that he’s been treated like trailer trash long enough:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has canceled a planned trip to Washington next week to take part in President Barack Obama’s 47-country nuclear security summit conference.

The ostensible reason for the very public cancellation?

He made the decision after learning that Egypt and Turkey intended to raise the issue of Israel’s presumed nuclear arsenal at the conference, a senior government official said on Friday.

Israel is believed to be the only nuclear-armed power in the Middle East but has never confirmed or denied that it possesses atomic weapons. It has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

That’s the official reason – and there may be a grain of truth to it.  It’s Obama’s summit. But given the treatment Obama has given Israel lately, I’m sure Netanyahu has no illusions about his previously staunch US ally stepping in and stopping any such attempted hijacking of the summit by Egypt and Turkey.  Of course, Israel wouldn’t be the only nation there which hasn’t signed the NPT (India and Pakistan).

Probably more importantly though, the summit and nuclear non-proliferation are a pet project of Obama’s.  Israel is choosing to display its displeasure with Obama and the way it has been treated recently (see visa story below as well) by visibly and publicly downgrading their level of participation to Deputy Prime Minister level.  Or at least that’s the way I see it.

In hardball, both sides get a chance on the mound.

~McQ


Hitchens “Gets It” Concerning Iran

He sets it up with these observations:

1. There is nothing at all that any Western country can do to avoid the charge of intervening in Iran’s foreign affairs. The deep belief that everything—especially anything in English—is already and by definition an intervention is part of the very identity and ideology of the theocracy.

2. It is a mistake to assume that the ayatollahs, cynical and corrupt as they may be, are acting rationally. They are frequently in the grip of archaic beliefs and fears that would make a stupefied medieval European peasant seem mentally sturdy and resourceful by comparison.

3. The tendency of outside media to check the temperature of the clerics, rather than consult the writers and poets of the country, shows our own cultural backwardness in regrettably sharp relief. Anyone who had been reading Pezeshkzad and Nafisi, or talking to their students and readers in Tabriz and Esfahan and Mashad, would have been able to avoid the awful embarrassment by which everything that has occurred on the streets of Iran during recent days has come as one surprise after another to most of our uncultured “experts.”

And he brings it home with this:

That last observation also applies to the Obama administration. Want to take a noninterventionist position? All right, then, take a noninterventionist position. This would mean not referring to Khamenei in fawning tones as the supreme leader and not calling Iran itself by the tyrannical title of “the Islamic republic.” But be aware that nothing will stop the theocrats from slandering you for interfering anyway. Also try to bear in mind that one day you will have to face the young Iranian democrats who risked their all in the battle and explain to them just what you were doing when they were being beaten and gassed. [emphasis mine].

For those of you who continue to miss this point, there it is, perfectly stated.

And, for those who find “hot dogs on the 4th” still acceptable for members of a regime presently engaged in viciously and murderously silencing their own people, one has to assume you believe in rewarding bad behavior by pretending it hasn’t happened. That’s not “diplomacy”, that’s simply an abysmally poor choice that signals weakness.

~McQ