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Missile show off in North Korea (www.nytimes.com).
by Steve Timmer
Apr 15, 2017, 8:00 PM

Kim Jong-un is really an annoying little s**t

Everybody thought he was going to set off another big firecracker on his grandpa’s birthday:

The United States, China and other regional powers had feared that North Korea might mark the occasion by conducting its sixth nuclear test or by launching an intercontinental ballistic missile. The United States sent a naval strike group to the coast of the Korean Peninsula in a show of force that has become a first, wary showdown between Mr. Kim and President Trump.

But he didn’t. You know who did, though? Uncle Sam. We tested a new “nuclear gravity bomb” — I think that means if you drop it from the sky that it will fall to earth — that can be dropped from an F-16. Well, okay, the link is to a story on RT, but look at the sources, including the US National Nuclear Security Administration. It wasn’t nuclear armed; it was sort of a proof of concept, like testing missiles. Besides, making the warhead itself is old hat for us. We just need new, fun ways to deliver them.

But let us ask ourselves this basic question: if you were a tiny, little country, especially one with a bad case of adolescent opposition disorder, and you were pretty sure that the US didn’t like you, and in fact was technically still at war with you, what is the one thing you would really, really want?

Well, when I put it that way. Right?

Under international law, every country has a right to defend itself. You could ask Bibi Netanyahu about that. He says that nearly every day, as he sends the armored Catepillar® bulldozers out to clear away Palestinians. Bibi has nukes, you know, but we don’t talk about it.

North Korea has renounced the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Which, as a sovereign nation under international law, it is entitled to do. We’re unhappy about it, of course. That’s grounds to invade, right? Well, no, not exactly.

If North Korea invaded the United States, or a country that we are treaty-bound to defend, as South Korea is, we’d be justified in an attack. (Charmingly, South Korea is also bound to defend us if we are attacked.) If there was an attack by North Korea that was “imminent,” we’d also be justified in an attack pre-emptively.

But firing off a big bottle rocket into the empty ocean or conducting a nuclear test on its own sovereign soil is not the threat of an imminent attack. It is preparing for self-defense.

Our president, who undoubtedly has decades of experience in dealing with the trash haulers in New York City, has said to China, Take care of the problem or we will. If he does, he’ll join the pantheon of Republicans who can’t vacation abroad. No more visiting the in-laws in Slovenia!

There are also cautionary tales of disarming your nuclear arsenal, or the potential for one, in the face of a twitchy America: Libya, for example. After the UK brokered a deal in 2003, Muammar Kaddafi agreed to get rid of his nuclear program. A handful of years later, Kaddafi wound up in a ditch sodomized by a bayonet after an extended bombing campaign cheerled by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Or consider Ukraine: when the Soviet Union collapsed, it possessed a nuclear arsenal, which it gave up at the urging of the West. After Russian gobbled Crimea, and nibbles at Ukraine itself, I’ll bet the Ukrainians wished they’d hung on to a few.

I suspect that the reason we haven’t dealt with Kim Jong-un is that we aren’t exactly sure what he might be able to do in retaliation. We could obviously easily turn North Korea into a smoking parking lot, but at the expense of what: Seoul, Tokyo, or even San Francisco?

You may be assured, gentle readers, that Kim Jong-un knows this.

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