Death, taxes, and bluster from Kim Jong-un.
The Pyongyang Madman has been at the fore of the news once again with his saber-rattling. The only difference between his usual posturing and this week’s headlines is that his bellicosity is aimed (so to speak) at the United States.
One of the few great things about aging is that experience teaches you whether to be fearful or not. I remember distinctly the end stages of the Cold War. I was one of those kids who was taught nuclear drills at school and grew up on The Day After and When the Wind Blows. It did to my pre-teen mind what it was intended to do: scare the crap out of me.
But fortunately, as I grew older, I realized there was such a thing as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). It really takes the edge off, because MAD is one of the truest axioms there is. Nuclear deterrence applies to commie and capitalist, to atheist and Islamic radical alike. No one, and I repeat, no one, wants nuclear war.
The only conceivable weak link in MAD is the rogue nutjob. At first blush, Jong-un and the worst actors in the Middle East seem to fit that description. But with a deeper examination of the motives of each, you see that there ARE methods to their madness.
Imagine first you are a Muslim extremist head of state who wants to bring about a caliphate for his people. Would you risk your carefully formulated plan to infiltrate Western nations by dropping a nuke on the Great Satan? Oh, hell, no. You know that the moment you commit such an idiotic act that your entire homeland will be turned to Alamogordo glass after a volley of retribution. Your entire population of believers would be utterly annihilated.
You might bluster a lot – MAD allows for unlimited hot air so long as no gusts of nuclear wind blow – but you stay the course. Especially since it has been wildly successful up til now. Why risk a big pot gained throughout a long game by shoving all in with seven-two offsuit against the West’s nuclear pocket aces?
Now imagine you are the wielder of absolute power in a North Korean dictatorship. No one outside your country will ever accuse you of being a good guy; murdering your relatives, starving your people, and forcing all the men in your country to get the same stupid haircut in honor of you rather precludes that. You are, however, almost a deity in the minds of the most brainwashed of your populace. Psychologically speaking, why in the world would you give up all that worshiping just to get glassed over by the only nation that actually has dared to drop a mass-casualty bomb on civilians?
Essentially, Kim Jong-un is evil, but not insane or stupid. He enjoys his gig. He postures on the world stage simply to increase his legend and strengthen his grip in Pyongyang. If he were estimated by Langley to be a true threat to Western interests, he would have been dead long ago.
So, dear friends in Guam, sit back and relax. The worst you’ll see is a squalid game of political brinkmanship.
Eventually, sadly, the whole world will have these weapons. The nuclear genie has been out of the bottle for a while now. Fortunately, the concept of mutually assured destruction has rendered him a eunuch. But the odds of any head of state ever deploying a nuke remain somewhere between miniscule and non-existent.
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