A fairly spooky blog entry at Victor Davis Hanson’s blog Works and Days offers a brief though rambling analysis of the current campaign by N. Korea to develop nuclear capability and suggestions for a proper response. The first thing that caught my eye was his reference to “this wider war against Islamism.” Linking N. Korea with Islam is silly enough, but the blogger apparently believes we’re in the midst of a religious war. Some of the fundamentalists in U.S. government responsible for the war undoubtedly believe the same thing, but it’s not generally acknowledged that the clash of cultures and values we more commonly refer to as the War Against Terror (of which the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are merely symptoms) is specifically aimed at fighting Islam of one type or another.
Comments on China’s certain intransigence about sanctions against N. Korea were untrue even before the entry was posted, as USA Today and The Washington Post both reported. If China’s attempt to brake some of the more virulent calls for extreme sanctions are heeded, it may actually forestall an overreaction that could well destabilize N. Korea to everyone’s detriment.
The most dangerous observation in the post is about brinkmaship, namely, that it works (for N. Korea at least, and by extention, for the U.S.). Commenters on the post, who mostly come across as a gang of cheering sycophants, waste no time recommending that the U.S. adopt a lunatic posture of unpredictable recklessness, perhaps by nuking someone/something. It’s a chilling scenario that could easily plunge the world into — literally — a fight for survival once the genie it let back out of the bottle. It’s a strategy that would likely make the world less safe rather than more secure.
Considering the stakes involved in geopolitics, we might do well to practice considerable self-restraint and enter into armed conflict only with the most extreme reluctance. Twentieth-century wars have provided ample instruction in that regard, and some countries have learned those lessons and chastened themselves. Unfortunately, the U.S. continues to act with extraordinary hubris and is apparently unwilling to learn much from its own costly and failed wars since 1950. When I read others’ calls for further military expansion (as though our military doesn’t already dwarf everything else arrayed against us) and a willingness to destroy our enemies, I can’t help but feel at a loss, unable to fathom how cruel, unfeeling, and even barbaric we are in pursuing our interests around the globe.