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China as the balance between DPNK and the US

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — once again, it’s the formal properties that interest me here ]
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You may agree or disagreee, but in two-party negotiation I’d say, speaking as a moderator, bridge-builder, peace-maker, there’s a natural parity between the two parties

— this parity will be there, somehow, even if not immediately apparent, or something is seriously amiss.

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Here, then, are two of countless ways in which China must handle disparities between the parties, if she is to maintain a balance between the US and Korth Korea:

The population balance — or imbalance — is pretty extreme, and the nuclear arenal imbalance even moreso:

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I’ve included the moderator (China) along with the two parties in my weightings above, pondering whether it makes a difference when the moderator is “heavier” than either party, or when one party “heavily” outweighs the moderator.

I don’t know, I’m feeling my way towards an intuitive grasp of something here, not presenting a certainty of some kind.

The WaPo article that brought me to these considerations is full of “balance” and “imbalance” imagery..

At issue is “a series of threats and counterthreats by the U.S. and North Korean governments.”

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said there had been an “overwhelming amount” of “belligerent rhetoric” from Washington and Pyongyang.

Even-handedly:

China has repeatedly warned both Washington and Pyongyang not to do anything that raises tensions or causes instability on the Korean Peninsula, and it strongly reiterated that message Friday.

In an editorial, the Global Times said China should make it clear to both sides that “when their actions jeopardize China’s interests, China will respond with a firm hand.”

And considering how things can get worse:

China hopes that all relevant parties will be cautious in their words and actions, and do things that help to alleviate tensions and enhance mutual trust, rather than walk on the old pathway of taking turns in shows of strength, and upgrading the tensions.

And better:

“The side that is stronger and cleverer” will take the first step to defuse tensions..

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All this is, on the one hand, obvious, and barely needs saying — and on the other hand, fascinating and instructive in its abstract formalism. Of course, there are details that I’m omitting to bring that formalism front and center, but you have the WPo article to give you those.

Most interesting, perhaps, is that final observation:

“The side that is stronger and cleverer” will take the first step to defuse tensions..

It reminds me of another quote I included in a post here on ZP recently:

the problem of defense in the modern world is the paradoxical one of finding ways for the strong to defeat the weak.

Paradox, too, is a matter of form, and thus of particular interest when it occurs in an analytic context.

Metaphors, analogies, parallelisms, paradoxes — my stock in trade — are delicate matters, and should be treated with care.

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Okay, now how do you diagram the balance mentioned in the WaPo article, In dealing with North Korea, Trump needs allies — not bombast?

Tillerson’s impossible job: Balancing North Korea, China and Trump

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Sources:

  • Business Insider, Where the World’s 14,995 Nuclear Weapons Are
  • Worldometers, Countries in the world by population (2017)

  • Washington Post, Beijing warns Pyongyang: You’re on your own if you go after the US
  • Hat-tip, btw, to xkcd for painstakingly providing the number graphics via the xkcd Radiation page.

    Truman Trump, and that reminds me, Maude Rumsfeld

    Thursday, August 10th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — humming along as the world sings ]
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    It’s not as though I’m the one who noticed the Trump Truman correspondence — it’s laid out, with some other worthwhile quotes, in the New Yorker piece, Donald Trump’s Nuclear War Threat:

    And it does have something of an apocalyptic ring to it, as does Truman’s remark, which he slipped in like a knife between Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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    All of which reminds me of two invasions of Iraq, a century apart:

    Nothing apocalyptic there — unless you think of Baghdad in the same breath as Babylon — which Saddam likely did.

    Catching up with Carson

    Saturday, June 17th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — always amazed when theology makes its way into politics ]
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    I missed this when it first appeared, but wanted to capture it now I’ve found it (via a Lewis Black routine) —

    Seems the amateur theologian Ben Carson — who relies heavily on his professional status as a neurosurgeon for credibility — thinks amateurs get the job done way better than professionals. Whether that opinion will lead to better ship-building by, eg, Hyundai, Samsung and Daewoo is another question: they may or may not take note of Biblical precedent in this matter.

    Mattis and Kim: mirrors have consequences

    Friday, April 21st, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — the current nuclear standoff, with a coda on silver beech and copper birch ]
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    I spend a fair amount of time suggesting that formal characteristics found in events are frequently worth special note, and mirroring is a good example. Here, in Why Mattis versus Kim Jong-Un Will End Badly for Us All, War on tnhe Rocks indicates the potential (and potent) peril of mirroring in the context of our latest Korean adventure:

    Inadvertent war in Korea is more likely now than at any point in recent history. Whereas a second Korean war has always been possible, clashing U.S. and North Korean “theories of victory” — beliefs about what it takes to successfully coerce and control escalation — now make it plausible, even probable.

    Patterns of bluster and brinkmanship have of course long characterized affairs on the Korean Peninsula. For “Korea watchers,” there’s a perverse comfort in the predictability of a situation that, to the uninitiated, sometimes looks anything but stable.

    So on some level, the rhythm of recent saber-rattling between the Trump administration and North Korea recalls the perverse comfort of typical Korea policy. On a recent visit to South Korea, Vice President Mike Pence cited U.S. attacks in Syria and Afghanistan as indications of U.S. resolve against North Korea. This statement followed numerous officials confirming that the administration is contemplating preventive strikes against the North, and a recent policy review on North Korea yielding one overarching imperative: “maximum pressure.” North Korea’s rhetoric and posturing has been no less confrontational and no less familiar. As Pence departed Alaska for South Korea, North Korea attempted a submarine-launched ballistic missile test that failed. Upon news that a U.S. carrier group was headed to its neighborhood, North Korea responded that “a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment” and that it’s “ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.”

    These words and deeds themselves are more heated than usual, but unremarkable in the context of all that’s come before. North Korea routinely threatens war, often summoning images of a future mushroom cloud. The United States routinely dispatches aircraft carriers, bombers, and other strategic military assets in hopes of signaling resolve while actually registering little more than displeasure with North Korean behavior. The notion of “maximum pressure,” moreover, only differs from the approach of past U.S. presidents in the ambiguous adjective “maximum.” Pressure is the historical mean of U.S. policy toward North Korea. My concern is not with these observable dynamics to date, but rather with what lies beneath them, and what may be coming soon as a consequence.

    It’s getting harder to ignore that the Pentagon, under Secretary Jim Mattis, may have a coercive theory of victory that largely mirrors that of North Korea under Kim Jong-Un. The danger is in the fundamental incompatibility of these disturbingly similar sets of strategic beliefs.

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    Smoke and the hall of mirrors, a digression:

    An excellent place for final confrontations with heroes, the Hall Of Mirrors wins high marks for ease of use. All you have to do is lure your victim inside by dashing in yourself, and then cackle with glee as they find you reflected back not once but a thousand times… When you have had your fun, seal the exits and fill the cramped space with some kind of liquid. Plain water works as well as anything, but why not add food dye for color. Or, for a touch of whimsy, use a sickeningly sweet fruit punch.

    Neil Zawacki, How to Be a Villain, in TV Tropes: Hall of Mirrors

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    Mirroring sets up an echo chamber — consider the myth of Narcissus** — which is also a sort of ping-pong game and a feedback machine —

    and hence a magnifier or an accelerator. It can allm too easily howl out of control, with — in this case — nuclear consequences.

    ** Narcissus sees his reflection, Echo echos his voice back to him, thus the myth encompasses a parallelism between visual and aural self-perceptions in a wonderful act of inter-media symmetry.

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    Form is the decorative act of the creative mind, adding to meaning by the use of devices of art in the way the materials of the art are deployed — as when the poet notes (specifically) beech and birch trees in a wood, delighted by the verbal felicity between the two words, or Coppola matches helicopter rotors against the blades of a hotel room fan in the beginning of Apocalypse Now.

    And then the delight triples with the addition of a metallic match:

    But again, I digress..

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    Monastic drums

    Monday, August 8th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — sounds resounding, Romania and Korea ]
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    Romanian Orthodox:

    Korean Buddhist:


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