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Okay this re North Korea this morning from WotR

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — from Korea hands vs nuclear wonks ]

Okay, the title of this piece intrigued me: Korea hands vs nuclear wonksVan Jackson at War on the Rocks today.

Okay, I mostly like wonks, but hands have on-the-ground awareness that beats the hell out of book-footnoted research and chat with like-mindedd others, so to my mind, Korea hands would naturally beat nuclear wonks (Cheryl Rofer and friends explicitly excepted), no contest. Anyway, neat, interest-grabbing title. I therefore clicked to see the piece, and while my own opinion was not affirmed, I found this:

I ranted about this a bit on twitter over the weekend, but what we’re witnessing is an open split between the United States and South Korea over North Korea policy. It’s not the first time; this happened in the early years of the George W. Bush administration too. Both sides have an interest in papering over differences in public, but the rift is there. The question is why.

Nuclear scholars see the emerging differences in the alliance as strategic “decoupling”—North Korea’s growing nuke threat is leading South Korea to search for security by other means because U.S. reliability shrinks as U.S. territory falls within range of North Korean missiles. South Korea would be hard-pressed to have faith that Trump would be willing to let Seattle eat a nuke in exchange for Seoul not eating one.

But Korea scholars see a more familiar pattern in the current divergences between South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in and President Trump. The breakdown of the U.S.-Korea alliance in 2002 and 2003 was about as bad as it’s ever been, it was due entirely to the politics (on both sides) of North Korea policy, and it was years before North Korea had a functional nuke.

So we all see a fissure opening up between allies, but what’s the best explanation for it? If the nuclear scholars are right, and the fissure is a function of North Korea’s growing nukes, then the alliance is in big trouble, because the nuke problem is on-trend to get worse not better.

If the Korea scholars are right, then the alliance is in a bad place but the situation is recoverable. South Korea’s president is just being a political opportunist, in this interpretation, and once the domestic mood in the South shifts against him (or North Korea), then the alliance will be in a better place.

Either way, we’re effectively out of the nuclear crisis from last year. It would take a major miscalculation or act of violence by someone to bring the crisis roaring back. Unfortunately, that’s entirely plausible.


Two points-of-view — the view from two points, two perspectives — distinct but not necessarily opposed, ie capable of binocular vision, if the balance between the two lenses is adjusted to the perceiver’s taste.

Binocular vision, adjusted to balance the inputs from the two lenses, is — if nothing else — an opportunity for dialectic, or for the HipBone approach (stereophany — see Meditations for Game Players, vii).

Binocular — stereoscopic — dialectic vision is a central aspect of my interest in polyphony, the capacity to hear twwo or more points of view at once. F Scott Fitzgerald once said, much to my delight:

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

Then there’s Sir Lawrence Freedman, in The Meaning of Strategy, Part II: The Objectives:

For Beaufre, strategy was the “the art of the dialectic of two opposing wills using force to resolve their dispute.”

Strategy! Dialectic! Stereophany!


And now, back to N Korea and Van Jackson with all that in mind..

I’ve taken into account two viewpoints in my “binocular” discussion here — but Jackson offers a third possibility at the very end of his piece:

Either way, we’re effectively out of the nuclear crisis from last year. It would take a major miscalculation or act of violence by someone to bring the crisis roaring back. Unfortunately, that’s entirely plausible.


WHat do you think, Zen, Scott, Tanner, Cheryl, Michael??

Catchall post for comments with form

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — ouroboric and boustrophedonic news aggregated for yr edification ]

this is certainly tne essential Ouroboros, no?


Okay, first, several examples of serpent-bites-own-tail comments:

How a Liberal Scholar of Conspiracy Theories Became the Subject of a Right-Wing Conspiracy Theory

That’s pretty straightforward — and this:

A sample headline in the Netherlands: “The new Trump Ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, lies about his own lies.”


Then there are Mueller-specific ouroboroi:

One of Trump’s lawyers said the president’s legal team wants a second special counsel — one to investigate the investigators..


Trump’s lawyers want a special counsel to investigate special counsel Robert Mueller:

Donald Trump’s legal team has suggested appointing another special counsel to investigate the existing special counsel, Robert Mueller, who is probing the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.

One commenter went a level farther, opining:

there should be a Special Counsel to investigate the Special Counsel which is investigating the Special Counsel. When concluded, the Special Counsel investigating the Special Counsel, which is investigating the Special Counsel should deliver their report to a newly formed unbiased Special Counsel, which in turn should be investigated to ensure that all the investigative legalities have been adhered to.



Okay, enough ouroboroi — let’s approach zen from the side, with this:

President Trump is quoted in a clip in Ari Melber‘s The Beat (MSNBC) at 2.34, “I don’t want to talk about pardon for Michael Flynn yet, we’ll see what happens.” This is followed by a Rachel Maddow clip, in which RM says, “I have a Tree Falls in the Forest question for you: “If the President issues a pardon, do we have to know about it?”

That’s about as close to an overt koan as we are liable to find on mainstream political TV.

Go, Rachel! But what exactly do you mean?


And ah! — we are so fotunate that Rachel is not alone in thinking thoughts of this kind.. Kaveh Akbar has a New Yorker poem, What Use Is Knowing Anything If No One Is Around:

What use is knowing anything if no one is around
to watch you know it? Plants reinvent sugar daily
and hardly anyone applauds. Once as a boy I sat
in a corner covering my ears, singing Quranic verse

after Quranic verse. Each syllable was perfect, but only
the lonely rumble in my head gave praise. This is why
we put mirrors in birdcages, why we turn on lamps

to double our shadows.

and so forth. Thank you, Kaveh Akbar, I hear you, I hear your silent, recited Quranic verses.


I’ll add further instances of posts and comments with the formal properties I’m so fond of in the comments section as they catch my eye..

Responding to Hend Amry

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — yes, we can feel for Muslim victims as we do in a different register for their persecutors, Buddhists untethered from their moorings ]

I must respond:

Yes, the core, the deepest stratum of being — zen’s “original face” == the soul goes out. Whether heart and mind follow is variable, utterly human, as you observe.



  • Washington Post, Hundreds are dead in Burma as the Rohingya crisis explodes again
  • Human Rights Watch, Burma: Satellite Images Show Massive Fire Destruction
  • Hunger, in the closing lines of a poem

    Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — of the space race and children unborn, hungry ]

    Here are the closing lines of the poem, The Earth is a Satellite of the Moon, by Leonel Rugama:

    The children of the people of Acahaulinca, because of hunger,
    are not born
    they hunger to be born, only to die of hunger.
    Blessed are the poor for they shall inherit the moon.

    I find these lines quite striking.

    Rugama’s moon is a bleak moon, but that’s a function of Rugama’s comparison of the cost of moon shots with the fate of generations hungry in Acahaulinca, wherever that is. I can point you to the moon, though — with the mandatory zen caution.

    Ouroboros, btw.

    Face toward the wall

    Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — Hezekiah’s Bodhidharma Zen? ]

    Bodhidharma sat in meditation nine years facing the cave wall, so we have heard.

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