1 February 2018   Leave a comment

The current edition of The Economist has an article on the North Korean nuclear issue which is substantive, very readable, and highly informative.  The article goes through a variety of different ways to think about the issue, but there is one paragraph which summarizes the critical issue brilliantly:

“At root, however, debates about Korea strategy turn on two starkly straightforward questions, spelled out in interviews with serving and former defence and national-security officials, diplomats and spies, including several with personal experience of negotiating with North Korea. First, will China ever break decisively with North Korea, its infuriating neighbour but valued buffer against the world? Second, can Mr Kim be deterred? For if he cannot, then any responsible American president must contemplate a strike, risking what the Japanese expert summarises as “tens of thousands of casualties today to prevent millions tomorrow”.

I highly recommend the article for anyone who wants to understand the very complicated concerns of the crisis that is objective and sober.

 

A possible insight into the way the Trump Administration is thinking about North Korea might be found in its abrupt removal of Dr. Victor Cha from consideration as the next US Ambassador to South Korea.  It is hard to believe that given the tensions in East Asia this very important position has remained unfilled for almost a full year.  Professor Cha teaches at Georgetown University and heads the Korea Department at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC.  On 30 January Cha wrote an op-ed piece for the Washington Post entitled “Giving North Korea a ‘bloody nose’ carries a huge risk to Americans” and his argument was that even a very limited use of force against North Korea would likely precipitate a serious violent conflict with many casualties:

“Some have argued the risks are still worth taking because it’s better that people die “over there” than “over here.” On any given day, there are 230,000 Americans in South Korea and 90,000 or so in Japan. Given that an evacuation of so many citizens would be virtually impossible under a rain of North Korean artillery and missiles (potentially laced with biochemical weapons), these Americans would most likely have to hunker down until the war was over.”

Cha was nominated by President Trump last August and had passed all the necessary security clearances for the position.  He had also been approved for the position by South Korea.  Despite this heavy investment in the nomination and more than enough time to vet his views by the Administration, Cha was unceremoniously and precipitously dropped for stating his views which are apparently anathema to the Administration.

Victor Cha

 

One of the major cities of the world, Cape Town, South Africa, may run completely out of water by 16 April.  It is a city of over 4 million people, but three years of drought and overuse of water have left the water supply levels dangerously low.  The city is currently scheduled to turn off all tap water unless there is significant rainfall soon.  Residents of the city will be restricted to 13 gallons of water a day beginning later this week, and plans are set to supply water under heavy guard after 16 April.  Unfortunately, Cape Town is not alone, and water scarcity is affecting several other major cities in the world:  Sao Paulo, Brazil; Lima, Peru; Amman, Jordan; Mexico City; Melbourne, Australia; and Kabul, Afghanistan.  According to the Thompson Reuters Foundation:

“Water scarcity already affects more than 40 percent of the world’s population and is expected to rise due to global warming, with one in four people projected to face chronic or recurring shortages by 2050, according to the United Nations.”

The problem of water scarcity is one of the most serious problems facing the world, but efforts to address the problem have been inadequate.

 

 

Posted February 1, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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