This note is in part a response to an article in yesterday’s New York Times pointing out correctly that no one understands what the North Koreans are after.
What is most disturbing about the current situation is that no one seems to be trying to find out. Two things, however, are clear:
- Kim Jong-un is trying very hard to provoke a hysterical response from the US.
- We are doing an excellent job of giving him exactly the response he wants.
So the conclusion is that he wants something from us. Based on past behavior of the North Koreans, it can even be that he wants money (and security to spend it). There is nothing in Kim’s past that says that he is either suicidal or stupid. He is undoubtedly happy with our behavior thus far, since he can assume we’re too scared to walk away from the bargaining table.
So we should stop playing his game and cool it. And above all let’s find out he wants and deal with it. He gains nothing by an actual attack. His bargaining position is based 100% on our hysteria. The longer we postpone this, the better for him.
In the current situation any military action by the US is an unjustifiable atrocity.