Our nonchalant policy on nuclear proliferation

China has nukes, Israel has them, India and Pakistan have them, Iran has or will have them. North Korea has them. Not to mention Russia and several Western nations. Notice a trend here?

Perhaps we've slowed or stalled nuclear proliferation here and there, even dismantled a few of our own nukes. But if a country really wants it, they will get it.

When it comes to the more-or-less publicly known nuclear programs among adversarial, enemy, or rogue states, we have consistently taken a casual approach, up to and including acceptance. We talk tough, we apply the occasional sanction, and we vow to never let Elbonia go nuclear. But we let them, and they do.
Rumor has it the generals get a medal for every purge they survive
I don't know whether the casual approach is better than any other, I'm not even sure if acceptance of nuclear proliferation is a good or bad philosophy. But I do know that people are animals and tend to be scared of big sticks. When a frightened house cat puffs up its fur, hunches its back in the air, starts hissing, growling, and spitting it's usually enough to scare off much larger predators.

If you've spent some time watching nature documentaries, you know that most territorial fights end before they start. And even when it comes to violence, rarely is it fatal. The key to winning a fight with a big dumb animal is appearing to be more vicious and threatening than is worth the trouble. There are exceptions, of course. And those exceptions are bloody.

People are like this. I remember in high school, some punk got mad because I was dating his ex-girlfriend. He came up to me and started yelling and pushing. I yelled back. He threatened hell on earth, said he would put me in the hospital. I was no fighter, and his words were, to my inexperienced ears, a little frightening. I instinctively wanted to back down. For some reason I didn't. I called his bluff. I stood there and said stop talking and do something. He lobbed a few more insults and walked away.

Even though I always believed him to be an idiot, I thought even less of him after that. North Korea does this a lot. They threaten hell on earth, warning that they will put us in the figurative hospital. But they don't, and we know that.

But on the other hand, we are like that too. How many decades have we vowed to stop nuclear proliferation? To stop North Korea? To stop Iran? We are all talk. So are they, but their sticks are getting bigger and bigger relative to ours. The bluff game doesn't really work when players consistently and reliably bluff. The moment somebody catches on, they'll exploit the living shit out of it.

I don't know. Maybe one day the idiots will think they won't have to walk away; maybe they're already exploiting the living shit out of us.

Which brings me to this editorial by Sung-Yoon Lee:
For far too long, the United States has shied away from shutting off the Kim regime’s sources of money and matériel, let alone sanctioning its Chinese partners. This has been out of concern that Pyongyang might escalate its aggression or that Beijing would adopt retaliatory economic measures. These fears are unfounded: North Korea escalates tension according to its own timetable, while China shows restraint in the face of legitimate financial measures.
"SHIED AWAY!?" From stopping various Kim Jong-nutbags?? How does he know that? But you know what, my political cynicism tells me this version of geopolitical history is so pathetic it must be true.

Every fracking missile test we hear the hawkiest Republocrat say: "It's time to take the kid gloves off when dealing with Iran/North Korea/insert bad country." Apparently we've been putting those gloves back on prior to every missile test, lest we risk running out of symbolic tough-guy gestures and have to visibly back down. The rhetoric is puffed fur, the actual policy is face-saving nonchalance.

Like I said, I don't know if our apparent policy is better or worse than any other approach. I mean, we would actually have to go to war to stop this, or take Sung-Yoon Lee's optimistic advice and economically blockade North Korea. Which might start a war.
Maybe it's too late to stop North Korea, and perhaps even Iran. But I do know that the longer we wait, the more that becomes certain. Cheap talk I know, but all our options suck. Which is probably why we're doing nothing beyond puffing fur. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


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