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What separates adults from children?

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I used to think it was a combination of age, experience, wisdom, and maturity that defined the differences between adults and children. I was wrong. Or, half wrong. Apparently it is simply age and a lack of innocence that makes adults no longer children.

We’ve known for months now, since before the invasion of Iraq, that war with North Korea was possibly on our horizon, though Bush pooh-poohed the possibility and said our issues with Kim Jong Il would be resolved diplomatically. Surprise, surprise. Bush may have lied.

This is nothing new for the American public, not after the last few years we’ve experienced, but the problem is that this time the war could go nuclear. The good news is, Daddy’s looking out for you. Really. Trust him on this. Just close your eyes and everything will turn out all right. Don’t worry, baby.

The key point is that the base infrastructure available in the region and the accessibility of North Korea from the sea should make it possible to generate around 4,000 sorties a day compared to the 800 a day that were so effective in Iraq. When one contemplates that the vast majority of these sorties would use precision munitions, and that surveillance aircraft would permit immediate targeting of artillery pieces and ballistic missile launch sites, we believe the use of air power in such a war would be swifter and more devastating than it was in Iraq. North Korea’s geriatric air defenses–both fighter aircraft and missiles–would not last long. As the Iraqis understood when facing our air power, if you fly, you die.
[…] The South Korean Army is well equipped to handle a counteroffensive into North Korea with help from perhaps two additional U.S. Army divisions, together with the above-mentioned Marine Expeditionary Force and dominant air power. We judge that the U.S. and South Korea could defeat North Korea decisively in 30 to 60 days with such a strategy. Importantly, there is “no doubt on the outcome” as the chairman of the JCS, Gen. Meyers, said at his reconfirmation hearing on July 26 to the Senate.

We are not eager to see force used on the Korean peninsula. It is better to resolve this crisis without war. However, unless China succeeds in ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons development–and we believe this will require a change in regime–Americans will be left with the threat to our existence described by Secretary Perry when he recently said that the North Korean nuclear program “poses an imminent danger of nuclear weapons being detonated in American cities.”

Western press is acting indignant over a namecalling incident between US and Korean parties:

Talks between U.S. and North Korean officials are expected to be held in Beijing soon, but nobody is predicting an imminent diplomatic agreement, especially after North Korea denounced a U.S. negotiator as a “bloodsucker” and “human scum.”

North Korea should issue a retraction. Apparently the misunderstanding was caused by difficulties in translation of the statement to English. What North Korea should have called Bolton was, “Imperialist chickenhawk ass who waves red flag at nuclear bull.” North Korea will participate in multilateral talks on the crisis, but will not have dialogue with Bolton. Below is the statement as issued.

North Korea launched the attack after the official, John Bolton, slammed North Korean leader Kim Jong Il last week as a “tyrannical dictator” who made life a “hellish nightmare” for his people.

“We’re not going to dignify North Korean comments about our undersecretary of state,” said State Department deputy spokesman Philip Reeker.

“I think the undersecretary’s speech speaks for itself. it was a speech that reflected, I think, some obvious truths, and let’s just leave it at that.”

North Korea condemned Bolton, considered a Bush administration hawk, for hurling “malignant abuses” at its leader and warned his remarks cast doubt on whether Washington “truly” wants to negotiate with Pyongyang.

“Such human scum and bloodsucker is not entitled to take part in the talks in view of either the importance of the talks aimed to decide on peace and stability in northeast Asia or human dignity,” a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

Bolton really is a charming fellow, though, calling for acts of terrorism when they would be convenient for him:

In a 1994 panel discussion sponsored by the World Federalist Association, he said that “there’s no such thing as the United Nations,” and stated ”if the UN Secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”

No worries, though. The propaganda machine is already gearing up to sell this one as another humanitarian mission, and you’ll be able to make some money gambling on it after all.

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About Marla Caldwell

  • Eric, “completely uncynical”? I guess my optimistic underbelly is showing. I’ve become a lot more cynical in the last two or three years, but at my core there’s still a little optimist trying to peer out.

  • Eric Olsen

    Marla, absolutely right and completely uncynical.

  • There’s no such a thing as pure democracy on any grand scale for the simple reason that it doesn’t work, just as pure communism doesn’t work on a grand scale. It can be hard to make either work with a couple of dozen young idealistic adults who all want it to work, much less an entire nation, pushing and pulling on every issue.

    Still, the continuation of a regime is, in a sense, an indication of the consent of the governed. I do not mean that every individual likes or approves of her nation’s leaders and their actions, but history tells us again and again what happens when people find situations unbearable: they revolt.

    Generally it’s only referred to as revolt when it involves armed conflict or clear deposition of a leader in a “bloodless coup,” but people revolt all the time, in large ways and small, violent and peaceful. Isn’t it a form of revolt to start a small business? What about leaving the power grid, growing organic vegetables, bicycling or walking to work, circulating petitions, holding school or worship services in private homes, reclaiming unused public property, smuggling people across borders, publishing underground periodicals? The forms of revolt open to an individual may be limited, but individuals can build groups, and groups can lead to real change.

  • Eric Olsen

    I’m not sure if people get the leaders they deserve or not – I think they do in a democracy, but there is no such thing as pure democracy in the real world anyway. In particularly repressive societies the cycle can sometimes only be broken from without, which is what I believe we have done (or at least begun) in Iraq. In a perfect world, for us to be consistent we should do the same thing in North Korea, but the world isn’t perfect and the danger of direct action appears too great. It’s called “politics” – dealing with the real world – and is the reason dogmatism of any kind is so dangerous: every situation IS different.

  • And a Supreme Court willing to select them.

  • Eric, increasingly I think the only difference between children and adults is kids haven’t had time to do as much dirt. Cynical? Yes. But, what we like to think, that adults are wiser and better behaved, definitely isn’t true much of the time.

    I’ve also been thinking about whether leaders deserve all the blame for the horrors of history and the present. The impetus for that was a survey the blogger at Rightwing News recently conducted. He wanted to know who were the worse leaders of America in liberal bloggers’ opinions. I got stuck on whether we should ignore the complicity of the population when considering my answer. Yes, we have awful leaders, but we wouldn’t if millions of people were not willing to support them.

  • Eric Olsen

    All the Amazon selections are great, very fine secondary commentary. And I don’t much use whether I agree with something as a gauge of whether I enjoy reading it.

  • Tom,
    Of course the administration needs a plan to address what to do in case of war. I am not disputing that. I certainly wish they’d had one before invading Iraq. I would, however, prefer we had an administration that could keep its people on a short enough leash that they wouldn’t goad and provoke already hostile foreign heads of state. Bolton is a loose cannon and should never have been confirmed to the post.

  • Eric,
    Thanks. You don’t have to agree with me, but did you like the Amazon selections? I thought the CD selections were pretty good.

  • What I find humorous about all this war talk is that, before the internet – that is, before we all had the ability to sit around all day and toss hypothetical situations back and forth with the importance of real-life certainties – the governments (of all nations) would do stuff like this all the time. All the time. They have to – they have to draw up war plans when nations like NK go rogue. If they don’t, think of what could happen. But because we’re all spoiled by the immediacy of the internet, we seem to think that all of this is A Certainty. It’s just a plan, just in case. What would you rather happen – Bush & Co. sit back and do nothing, or ready a plan “just in case” NK really does feel like lobbing some missiles our way?

    The news of a war plan for North Korea in no way indicates or predicts war will happen. If anything, it’s just another effort to scare NK into backing down – that’s what governments do, you know. It’s what we did with Iraq – only Hussein wasn’t having any of it. Will Kim Jong Il? We’ll see. If he’s smart, he’ll quietly curtail his activities. I have my doubts . . .

  • Eric Olsen

    Nice rant Nursey, I enjoy your spleen even if I am not always a fellow traveler in your spleneticism. I do find the whole “alternative” futures market thing bizarre and chilling, though.