“Be very careful” is their sage advice to PDT on North Korea

There is an article on the editorial page of The AFR titled, The West is sleepwalking to war with North Korea. The joint authors are Admiral Chris Barrie, a former Chief of Defence Force and an honorary professor at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Roger Bradbury professor at the National Security College, and Dmitry Brizhinev who is a researcher. All three are at the ANU. And if you want reason to worry, but also gain a deeper insight how we ended up in the mess we are in, read this article. It is almost as terrifying as Kim. Let me begin with this:

In June, Jim Clapper, the recently retired US Director of National Intelligence, spoke at the Australian National University. He made his view clear when he said “there are no acceptable military solutions to the problem of North Korea”. It seems that Washington is not listening to his sage advice.

Maybe “there are no acceptable military solutions” but whatever solutions there are will never include saying things like “there are no acceptable military solutions”. If these people truly believe that Clapper was providing “sage advice” then I have no further reason to think I will learn anything worth knowing about the military by reading what they write. They then naturally go on with their virtue signalling about what a mistake it is that Trump is president:

Unlike the cautiousness of President Kennedy in 1961 over the Cuban Missile Crisis [who almost blundered us int a nuclear war with the soviets], today we have an untrusted and untested leader in Washington whose entire previous career has depended on winning the bluff in the world of business in general, and New York property development in particular. But, even in terms of his business career, Donald Trump has had a record of bankruptcy from which he doesn’t seem to have learnt anything about changing his behaviour.

Kennedy had commanded a PT boat which was sunk in the Pacific in the middle of the war before becoming a senator and then president, all of which no doubt is the kind of background one needs in dealing with a psychopath with his hands on atomic weapons and an ICBM delivery system that can reach both Los Angeles and Sydney. The following outlines where we are at, which seems like a reasonable place to be, even while being as frightening as one can imagine:

We cannot easily dismiss the reasonable likelihood that a trigger event leads to a US pre-emptive strike “intended to disable all North Korean offensive capabilities”.

This is the very idea that should be implanted in the minds of every North Korean leader, and in the minds of their protectors in China and Russia. What else can you do short of war? And this is no doubt part of the American calculation:

[The possibility that] because of imperfect intelligence, the strike fails absolutely, after which the DPRK military unleashes all its remaining capabilities on South Korea and Tokyo.

So here is their inane conclusion:

Does anyone think that Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are statesmen? Can we imagine either of them having a “Kennedy” moment and walking the world away from war? The potential for this crisis to turn bad is very real – we should all be very careful.

Really, that is their final sentence. But beyond that, how do you make a deal with someone you cannot trust not to do what he is clearly planning to do and will lie without compunction if it suits him? If this is the kind of advice they have, our greatest good luck today is that none of these characters is offering advice directly to the American president.

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