HR… Is the corner office worth it? Really?

"China should take unilateral action to cut off North Korean oil imports, McMaster said, adding, "you can't shoot a missile without fuel." He said that both he and Trump felt that a 100% oil embargo would "be appropriate at this point."
But the national security adviser said Kim was extremely unlikely to change his behavior "without some significant new actions in the form of much more severe sanctions" and "complete enforcement of the sanctions that are in place."
On military options, McMaster acknowledged that given North Korea's fielding of conventional artillery and rockets aimed at Seoul, South Korea, "there's no military course of action that comes without risk." But he said that Pyongyang's actions had made America's alliances with Japan and South Korea "stronger than ever.""  CNN
"Making a difference …" 
Well, maybe he won't shop you like Flynn and the other guys. ..   Maybe.  pl

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59 Responses to HR… Is the corner office worth it? Really?

  1. b says:

    McMaster is not the brightest bulb.
    – Sanctions don’t work on North Korea (or elsewhere). Would the North Korean government give up its nuclear insurance program when several hundred-thousand die of hunger? Or would it behave more aggressive? What comes when an embargo fails?
    – Oil imports can be replaced by converting coal in a Fischer-Tropsch process. Germany used it a lot during WWII. South Africa used this on a large scale when it was boycotted. North Korea has lots of coal China is no longer buying from it.
    McMaster seems to still be in the denial and anger phase of his grief. Time has long passed to move forward from that towards acceptance.
    The only way to handle North Korea is to talk with it. Find some non-aggressive deterrence balance that both sides can live with. It’s doable.

  2. turcopolier says:

    Unfortunately for your argument the NoKos do not want to talk about anything except our submission to a situation in which they hold our cities at risk. You know, the outcome that you want so that all countries large and small will be equally puissant. pl

  3. LondonBob says:

    Looks like you were right about Flynn being completely co-opted by the neocons, never changed his opinions on Russia though. I expect Flynn will be looked after by Trump, who sounds like he has had enough of Mueller et al.

  4. Will.2718 says:

    “to a situation at which they hold our cities at risk”=deterrence ?
    Is that not the bitter pill that Israel has had to accept from Hizbullah, that they are deterred from destroying Lebanon?
    Aside from the Russian Bear & Chinese Panda: With Israel’s Nuclear Triad, how many countries are at risk? likewise, from the force de frappe, Trident subs, from Pakistan, India, dirty bombs from any country for that matter.
    Why isn’t the “freeze for freeze” advocated by Russ/China attractive? It would be a win/win. Must the other side always lose? Do a peace treaty. Trade and free access would do more to undermine the NORKO regime than confrontation.
    It would be preaching to the committee choir here to maintain that biggest sources of instability in the world today are Settler Israel, Saudi Barbaria/Gulfies, & the baiting of the Russian Bear.

  5. J says:

    We have the conventional and advanced capabilities to turn their stuff into duds if we really want to with minimum casualties around their ‘stuff’.

  6. Greco says:

    Flynn had his faults, including in his association with the Leedens of this world, but the guy put his neck on the line with that DIA memo and his subsequent interviews. Who else in Trump’s orbit has taken that kind of risk to expose a dangerous failing policy? Whatever anyone may think of him, the guy had a lot of guts and now he’s in the cross-hairs for it.
    Trump knows the game and he knows the score. They want to paint Flynn as a liar, putting into question the credibility of Flynn’s earlier diagnoses of the mess in Syria among other things, and thus sling more mud at Trump in order to bring down his presidency or at least handicap it’s effectiveness.
    And Flynn’s loyalty to the President should not be put into question. He’s in an impossible situation and Trump gets that. Trump’s lawyers will have to attack Flynn’s credibility. Flynn will have to throw Mueller some sort of bone, probably Kushner. I don’t think Kushner will have a problem, but it will mean he’ll need to leave the administration, which rumors have him already preparing so.

  7. A. Pols says:

    “Airtight sanctions” are sort of an “if ya coulda wouldya” thing; seems like a good idea, but hard to implement in the real world of complicated national interests in other significant countries such as China and Russia bordering on NoKo.
    For them perhaps, having a festering sore on their rumps represented by the 65 year confrontation between the USA and NoKo may be something they might want to lance by enabling the NoKos to acquire the power to blunt US intentions and make necessary some sort of modus vivendi.
    Given the “No eternal alliances, only eternal interests” factor, maybe the Russians and Chinese are enabling the NoKos in the hopes that we won’t send the SWAT team into the neighboring apartment. After all NoKo hasn’t been threatening either one

  8. Kutte says:

    Kim Jong-un’s cards aren’t all that great. He is like man with a revolver with a single bullet in the chamber trying to hold 5000 people at bay. Of course, they could rush him, but nobody wants to be the one taking the losses. But you can play the Samson-Card only once, so he has to think very carefully what to do when provoked. I think Russia and China and the NoKo generals can take him out anytime, but they enjoy playing a dangerous little game with Trump, pretending they cant do anything, hoping to profit somehow. Let’s hope they all know what they are doing.

  9. turcopolier says:

    We are not Israel. Hizbullah deterrence of Israel means little to the world as a whole. We cannot accept a situation in which minor powers like NoKo can be seen to have defeated us in this kind of staring match. If you would would accept that then we should withdraw all our forces fro overseas commitments and concentrate on a fortress America strategy. pl

  10. turcopolier says:

    International relations is not about social justice. In your desired world Luxembourg and Russia would have equal weight in the world. That is a nonsense. This Boy Scout view of yours is further complicated by your Canadian inferiority complex vis a vis the US. I am an isolationist except with regard to trade and tourism and don’t really care about the rest of the world. pl

  11. Kutte says:

    I also think that you can’t have a situation were every Tom, Dick and Harry have their own little bomb. If too many got them, they can blow anyone up without even anyone knowing who dunnit. For obvoius reasons there would be no tracable evidence left. What do you do then with diplomacy? In 1964, Barry Goldwater said in an interview: Today, you make an A-bomb in every kitchen. Whilst this was a bit exaggerated then, it is certainly becoming more true every day. In the end it is the old question: Who stares down who?

  12. Jomu says:

    Very clear and very honest. But…
    I think we are all witness to NoKo doing exactly that. Someone overplayed his hand and now there are two possible outcomes. 1st – bluffing side folds cards. 2nd – 10-100 million people die in next round of NoKo destruction.
    I do not think elites are sure enough in their ability to contain that destruction and survive it to enjoy its wealth another day, so I think card folding will happen – this way or another.

  13. J says:

    Fortress America strategy amen. We have been the world’s policeman for far too long. And what have we gained from “the global policing beat”?

  14. Bill Herschel says:

    This is all about domestic politics, specifically the 2018 Congressional elections. Absolutely nothing will happen militarily before (or after) those elections. But “being soft on North Korea” is being developed as a stick to beat Demacrats with.
    So, expect Republicans to call for war, and Democrats to suggest that war might be premature.
    War and No Taxes are the Republican platform, and will be for the foreseeable future.
    Does anyone want to put money on a war with North Korea between now and Nov. 2018? Oh, and could such a war occur without our receiving an assurance from China that it would not intervene, particularly seeing that it is a signatory to the ceasefire that currently governs the Korean peninsula? Let’s not be silly.

  15. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Let us walk through a scenario in which DPRK conducts a nuclear detonation in the air somewhere East of Japan.
    US will attack and much of Korean penninsula as well as Tokyo Bay area is in ruins. So much so that there is no longer any allies left to protect and US will withdraw from NE Asia. That would be in the interests of RF and PRC.

  16. Rd says:

    A few simple questions of curiosity come to mind;
    How many times has NoKo attacked US mainland?
    How many US cities have been leveled by NoKo planes?
    How many times has NoKo conducted massive military exercises of US coast lines simulating an invasion?
    How many millitary basis NoKos have all around US mainland or anywhere else?
    How many countries NoKo has attacked in its entire existence?
    How many regime changes has NoKo promoted in ME or latin america or anywhere in the world?
    In 1954 the Breetish empire made an “angry” choice to attack Naser for having dared to nationalize Suez canal. Historian seem to suggest that was a flawed choice on the part of the former empire…

  17. EEngineer says:

    “For obvoius reasons there would be no tracable evidence left.”
    Er, no. Every nuclear reaction leaves a unique fingerprint of fission and/or fusion products that tell you a great deal about the nuclear material used and even the design of the device. That in turn tells you where the materials for it came from. Typically down to the level of the specific processing plant that made them.

  18. turcopolier says:

    Ah, more social justice confusion. Silly. That has nothing to do with the game of nations. Incredible naivete. pl

  19. Roland says:

    Then why all the concern?

  20. turcopolier says:

    Bill Herschel
    Ah, you see this in partisan terms … Amazing. Still got Clinton stickers on your cars? IMO she would have ordered an attack by now. The armistice is just a piece of paper like the treaty that protected Belgium or the Netherlands, whichever it was. . Neither China nor Russia would do anything but hint at possible repercussions. Lavrov said the other day that Russia would wprk to diligently to prevent an armed response. What do you think that means? pl

  21. Dabbler says:

    I haven’t completely figured out my own position in regard to North Korea, but I do note that three more days from now will mark the 76th anniversary of the last time your first four questions were asked about Japan.

  22. Roland says:

    I am unsure whether I understand you fully. Would you favour a war against North Korea, mainly as a matter of face?

  23. jonst says:

    “Fortress America” might turn out to be a damn good idea, and much larger (depth) than one might initially think.

  24. jonst says:

    If NK is “in ruins” that means, correct, they are not threatening to blow up cities in the US, correct? Whatever else it may mean, it means that.

  25. Yeah, Right says:

    I don’t see Rd’s post as an example of “social justice confusion”.
    It strikes me more as an explanation for why the North Koreans (who have been attacked before) are not going to blink in “this kind of staring match”, whereas the USA (who haven’t) can afford to.
    It is all well and good stating that the USA can not accept being stared down by a puissant country like North Korea, but what happens when it becomes obvious that the North Koreans simply are not going to blink?
    Does the USA then attack a nuclear-armed country merely because the alternative is that the USA blinks first, and that is simply unacceptable to an American?
    Or, put another way: is national self-esteem a good enough reason to kill millions?

  26. blue peacock says:

    I’m all for Fortress America. Withdrawing from all our external military commitments would be a good thing in my opinion. Reducing the scale of the federal government would be even better.

  27. Kutte says:

    Maybe that is so. Even then then, with great proliferation, there would inevitably be a black market, and assassins could buy various materials from various sources, which would still make it hard to trace the real culprits. Additionally, the material might fall into the hands of truly suicidal groups, not pompous arses like Kim Jong-un who is not truly suicidal but just wants to bluff himself into glory and well being.
    I would not rely on fingerprints.

  28. Kutte says:

    Firstly, I don’t think Kim Jong-un has that capability yet, but he inevitably will one day, and so will every man and his dog one day, then what do you do? I dont think that destroying Japan and South Korea would be in the interest of RF and PRC, just the fallout reaching their territory would be much bigger than the one reacing the US and Europe. It is much more convenient for them to lure Japan and SoKo into their camp economically. Additionally, they micght be drawn into a war with the US against their will. The problem is that the nuclear powers dont want to give up their weapons as a convenient way of blackmailing others. Something has to give. Someone has to find a solution that is acceptable to everybody.

  29. aleksandar says:

    Can you explain how ” you have the conventional and advanced capabilities to turn their stuff into duds ” ?
    I’m curious to read you.

  30. aleksandar says:

    Sorry to disagree , Sir, but ” China and Russia will do nothing ” is so far an assumption. Not a good base to begin planning a strategy. And China as already said they will help Noko.
    There has been so many ” They will do nothing ” in history that have led to war and even WW1.I would’nt bet on it.

  31. turcopolier says:

    It is a judgment not an assumption. assumptions are the basis for writing specific plans in that they create the planning universe for a specific plan. Plans are not reality. In the real world, if one accepts the idea that the possibility of an actual Russian or Chinese reaction must govern your actions then one is paralyzed in exactly the way that “b” and “james” want the US to be paralyzed. pl

  32. turcopolier says:

    No. As i have said here many times, the creation of a “peaceable kingdom” is a naive idea resulting from too many grad school papers and seminars, based on the scribbling of people like Jean Jacques Rousseau. The lions will not lie down with the lambs except for the purpose of eating them. That is human and all nature, nature red in fang and claw. Rather than fiddle around with ideas like that what is needed is for the great powers to agree that it is not in their interest for a multitude of little countries to have nuclear weapons and to act in concert to prevent further proliferation. We did a good job of that in the past but the bizarre character of NoKo threatens the effectiveness of preventing further proliferation. pl

  33. turcopolier says:

    Yes. It is difficult. What do you think we have been doing since the emergence of nuclear weapons? pl

  34. Kutte says:

    We seem to have a communication problem. I am not a follower of Jean Jacques Rousseau. In private life, he was a sexual pervert, his Philosophie about the “noble savage” is laughable. The savage is neither noble nor evil, he needs to survive. Their is no “peacable kingdom”, but maybe there is one whose leaders want to survive. The prolifertion of nuclear weapons is becoming inevitable, not because of the bizarre character of NoKo, but because of technology. The fact, that a ridiculous, backward country like NoKo can do it proves that a dozen others can do it, even private people might be able to. You may be right that by now there is no alternative but to render NoKo harmless in the most efficient way, regardless of losses. But what about the future? The monopoly of a few countries with nuclear weapons and their (perceived) readiness to use them for blackmail leaves the non-nuclear countries absolutely powerless.

  35. Kutte says:

    Well, in conjunction with my above reply I must say you have not done too good a job. When non-proliferation treaty was signed, some vague promises were made to reduce nuclear weapons, which were never kept. Whilst fully realizing the enormous difficulties for the nuclear powers, it is also a fact that no imbalance can last forever. There simply has to be some give and take, precisely for the reason of preventing another idiot getting that far.

  36. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You wrote:
    “Additionally, they might be drawn into a war with the US against their will.”
    You cannot take this argument seriously; a war that leaves two major Asian allies of the United States destroyed or crippled for 30 years and thus destroy US position in Asia=Pacific is not something that they would find objectionable or threatening.
    I think it will be a good idea to try to get Putin to mediate between US and North Korea; he is enough of a statesman to appreciate the inherent dangers of such a global instability (US alliance system fraying, etc.) poses to the Russian Federation and to try to find a honorable way for North Korea to rejoin NPT and for US to exit Korean Peninsula.

  37. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That cooperation among Great Powers was predicated on the now defunct Peace of Yalta.
    The merry March (of Folly) of the Western Fortress East against the Russian Federation resulted in Putin explicitly warning them of nuclear war.
    We need a new global peace before anything else, in my opinion.

  38. turcopolier says:

    “leaves the non-nuclear countries absolutely powerless.” This reminds me of several conversations I had with my mother in the ’50s in which she assured me that there would be no more conventional wars because the possession of nuclear weapons by the US, USSR, etc. would make that impossible. pl

  39. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Since the Western Civilization is “The Civilization” – at least in their own minds – applying the term “backward” to DPRK is not very informative, in my opinion. Perhaps they could be classified as having attained High Barbarism or Low Civilization.
    And they have mastered 1940s technologies; just like India, Israel, Pakistan, South Africa, Iran, Brazil, Argentina.
    [with Mexico, Chile, Algeria, RoK, Iraq, Turkey, and Vietnam being in the wings.]
    Historically, barbaric people have been quite lethal – like the Huns who destroyed the Classical Civilization in the Danube valley.
    I personally do not think that there is anything inevitable about the spread of nuclear weapons. There is a cause and effect and one has to address the causes.

  40. Kutte says:

    I said North Korea is a backward techology, not a backward civilization. As far as civilization is concerned, the technologically advanced countries are just as uncivilized as the techologically backward countries, only they usually prefer fraud and propaganda to naked violence. As far as the middle-east civilization is concerned, they were the most advanced area in 1000. In 1250 things started to go wrong, from 1400 things went wrong badly, and have not recovered since. That seems to be the price for being an empire.

  41. Kutte says:

    Well, for starters, one should listen to one’s mother. As far as her theory was oncerned. she got it almost right. There were no more great-power wars, only proxy-wars. In 1969 the then USSR and (then called RED) China almost went to war over a ridiculous island on the Ussuri river. The tsar and the emperor would have happily gone to war, but today nobody even knows who kept possession of the island. “Maniacs” are not always quite as mad as they want to make us believe, but of course some are. To cut a long argument short – the world can’t function properly once there is a power which recognizes no power above itself and which regards it’s own judgement as the ultimate judgement, with no way of appeal. (That was, after all, what George III reckoned). Otherwise this country will face sabotage from outside, and also everlasting sabotage in it’s own territory, since there will always be a few who have the power. The strong have to take the weak seriously, without letting the big power falling into weak hands. I admit that I dont know how this can be done.

  42. turcopolier says:

    I think that is sophistic baloney. My mother had no idea about this subject. She was speaking from ignorance. The Korean War was recently in the past as was the long Chinese Civil War. In the future were the VN War, the Iran-Iraq War, the two Gulf wars, the present Afghan War. If you consider these to have been proxy wars I am astonished. pl

  43. turcopolier says:

    Some of the Canadians here are used to living in a world in which there are no threats to their national survival and consequently they no longer have any real survival instincts. They feel like that because they have been protected from the cruel cold world by US power much as my dogs are protected by me. They evidently cannot distinguish between an actual threat to millions of American lives and simple vanity. Sad. Once again, IMO the US should withdraw from all foreign alliances and calculate in each instance like the NoKo crisis exactly what the US national interest is. pl

  44. kooshy says:

    “things started to go wrong, from 1400 things went wrong badly” IMO, actualy things did not go wrong for the middle-easterners they just weren’t as lucky, but in reality things start going very well for westerners from 1492 on, with discovering an untouched land with plenty of free resources to take back hoe, it was that free wealth (wealth of a continent) that made the west rich and possible to acquire best technology, science, military etc. So lets call it a lucky find in a road trip to india detouring the bloody muslim ottomans.

  45. Babak Makkinejad says:

    DPRK would be destroyed, South Korea and Japan would be in ruins.
    US would be safe but her alliance system will disintegrate; what is the use of an alliance if the weaker party is going to be collateral damage?
    And as US alliance system disintegrates, states will fall upon ad-hoc arrangements, nuclearization, and joining those who can promise some security.
    Those outposts of the European Civilization in the Pacific will be the first to nuclearize, followed many states in South America and in Europe.
    US would not really be safe until she decamps from this planet to another place – America II, America III, America IV etc.
    I must say that the best long term solution is still the creation of a method of mass dispersal of Mankind from Earth.

  46. turcopolier says:

    What self pitying BS! The West developed after 1492 because the culture abandoned the kind of pietist nonsense that held the lands of Islam back. pl

  47. turcopolier says:

    You don’t sound the same lately. The old Babak was against “wasting” money on space programs. pl

  48. Kutte says:

    These wars were of course not proxy wars in the sense that somebody “above” rings up somebody “benath” and says: Start a war! Lenin is given credit for the term “useful idiot”. In 1980 the Ayatollah ordered the storming of the US embassy. He did not do that on instruction from Breshnev, but he was Breshnev’s useful idiot. Under the (unwritten) rules of great power politics Carter could not move against Iran because that would have been too close for comfort for the Soviet Union. The Korean War, Chinese Civil War etc. weren’t exact proxy wars, but the great powers took a great interest in them and intervened via support or even directly, and used them as negotiating assets, whilst at the same time seeing to it that they themselves didn’t get destroyed. MAD did and does work. You keep saying the lion does not lay with the sheep. Years ago I saw a report from the Tokyo zoo: Some smart fellow had reckoned the lions should live more “naturally” and had a few goats placed into the lions enclosure. The lions, being used to being fed canned corned beef, walked up and took a look. The goats, in desparation, went on their hinds and started kicking, the lions ran away. So, not only does the lion lay down with the goat or sheep, he even runs away when his needs are satisfied. How is that for sophistic baloney?

  49. LondonBob says:

    South Korea has an IQ of 106 according to a study carried out in 2002 to 2006 by Richard Lynn, a British Professor of Psychology, and Tatu Vanhanen, a Finnish Professor of Political Science, who conducted IQ studies in more than 80 countries. They came third. I don’t think many other countries have the intellectual and technical sophistication to develop nuclear weapons.
    Europe was more advanced in 1000, and China more so. The anomaly was that Europe then shot ahead of China, but it seems as thought the Orient is moving back in front now. I agree the new world is what powered Europe ahead.

  50. Kutte says:

    Saying things went wrong badly for the mid-east is no contradiction to saying things started going very wellfor westerners in 1492. You can hit the jackpot twice in a month. The problems start when lottery winners think they are geniuses.

  51. LondonBob says:

    I don’t think Medieval Europe was that backward, as medieval cathedrals or castles attest, or indeed Viking exploration efforts.
    The industrial revolution was what really propelled Europe ahead. The new world has no relation to this event, rather it was entirely driven by European ingenuity.

  52. turcopolier says:

    Yes, the timber, turpentine, tobacco,gold, silver, etc. of the New World were useful in expanding European power but IMO the Rennaissance and Protestant Reformation were greater factors in the differential achievement of the West and Islamdom. The dead hand of a religio-political system like that of Sunni Islam with its universal anathema enforced against “bida'” (innovative thought) was a more effective bar to expansive thinking and worldly progress. Please don’t try to argue from the example of people like Avicenna and Averroes in the Middle Ages that Islam was then “progressive” in scientific or mathematical knowledge. In fact such people were various kinds of Shia or Sunni living under the protection of rebellious princes in outlying areas where they were hard to get at to suppress. pl

  53. turcopolier says:

    “How is that for sophistic baloney?” You have no better argument than the behavior of zoo animals? pl

  54. Babak Makkinejad says:

    One is never too old to take cognizance of new facts as they present themselves.

  55. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I agree.
    In fact, nothing like the 3 universities of Oxford, Paris, and Bologna has ever existed anywhere else on this planet.
    Khwajeh Nizam al Mulk established analogues of such universities but they died when the Seljuk Empire disintegrated since stable funding for them could not be obtained.

  56. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Ayatollah Khomeini did not order the second storming of the US Embassy in Tehran, it was done by the proverbial man-on-the-street; just like the first storming of the US Embassy while Ambassador Sullivan was present.
    The first storming was resolved when the local Revolutionary Committee sent its members to evict the protesters and free the US Embassy staff.

  57. turcopolier says:

    Here is a nice, clean link to Dershowitz” statements to Foxnews yesterday. i agree with all of it. pl

  58. Dabbler says:

    Also Cambridge.

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