The New York Times visits North Korea, finding more hatred of the U.S. and a thirst for war

Yesterday the New York Times presented a 26-minute video (click on screenshot below) and a very brief report (“From North Korea, with dread“) from four of their staffers who recently visited North Korea. The team included columnist Nicholas Kristof (who narrates the video), editorial writer Carol Giacomo, and writers Adam Ellick and Jonah Kessel. They were, according to Kristof, looking for “exit ramps for peace”—possibilities to defuse a nuclear war that, they think, has a high probability.

What they found is the usual, or worse. Officials and civilians alike, even when encountered randomly at an amusement park, spoke strongly about the idiocy of Donald Trump (his election has exacerbated the DPRK’s hatred of the U.S.), about the strong possibility of war, of their calm certainty that North Korea would win a conflict with the U.S., and, of course, of their love for Kim Jong-un.

As usual, it’s impossible to know how much of what people say is propaganda that they don’t really believe, but utter out of self-preservation, and how much has been brainwashed into them as truth. What’s clear is that everyone seems very guarded about what they say (check out the young schoolboy who simply can’t answer a question about what he thinks of the U.S. and what the U.S. should know about North Korea), and, in the amusement park where random citizens are interviewed, a strange man walks by repeatedly, seemingly monitoring the people being interviewed and even feeding them answers. This is a country that runs on fear.

Now watch the video; you’ll be enlightened, at least about how war-hungry the North Koreans seem:


Kristof’s conclusion, which everyone knows anyway, is that “the U.S. strategy is broken” and we desperately need alternatives to war. (My own view is that, Kim Jong-un not being suicidal, the possibility of war is less than Kristof thinks. The U.S. strategy isn’t really “broken”, it’s just that no strategy seems workable.) Kristof’s solution: Trump should put out feelers for talks, perhaps suggesting that in return for the DPRK’s stopping its nuclear program, the U.S. and South Korea will stop having military drills near the peninsula. That sounds like a non-starter to me (seriously? the DPRK is supposed to stop developing nukes?), but it’s all we have. Kristof also suggests bombarding North Korea with more propaganda, which actually may be useful, as some if it has indeed been filtering into the North through various channels, and the people are starting to learn more about the outside world. But for many a bit of U.S. propaganda can’t offset a lifetime of brainwashing, nor the fear of going to the camps if they stray from the official line.

Ellick and Kessel’s short piece says these things among others, and includes some captioned photos they were allowed to take (go to the article to see them):

The risk of war is greater than the public appreciates. There’s a complacency surrounding this crisis, which has been kicked down the road by several American presidents. Now, with war more likely than ever, talks are even more urgent, and we hope this video can serve as a call for politicians on both sides to seek exit ramps for peace.]

. . . Unlike North Koreans, we were able to access the internet by purchasing a special SIM card that is available only to foreigners (and priced for foreigners). Still, we had to use a VPN to bypass a firewall that blocked most social media sites. While on the ground, we were very careful not to post anything that would jeopardize our safety, so we purposely posted neutral descriptions.

These are some of the images we posted while we were there, with fresh commentary.


  1. Kirbmarc
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I think that by now we’ve reached a stalemate that will likely keep Kim Jong-Un in power for the rest of his life, which is what he wanted all along. The US can’t invade or depose him like they did with Saddam Hussein. He can sleep tight, knowing g hat now that he has nuclear weapons he will be left more or less alone.

    Everything else is just propaganda and saber-rattling. Un isn’t suicidal, he keeps his country paranoid to justify his rule (a trick as old as politics) but he knows he cannot win a nuclear war.

    North Koreans may be led to beliwve that the war is imminent, but the threat of an imminent war can last for a very long time in an authoritarian dictatorship. Orwell described this perfectly in 1984.

    • BJ
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      A perfect summation. There really is nothing to do and no need to fear more than usual, nor any way to decrease fears. Things will continue as they have been because the situation is completely intractable and neither side actually wants a war.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted November 30, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        Things will continue as they have been because the situation is completely intractable and neither side actually wants a war.

        You have a higher opinion of Trump’s sanity than I do.
        Or are you relying on the sanity of the senior military who would actually have to put a war into action, and presumably would either resign or shoot him as a dangerous Russian infiltrator.

        • GBJames
          Posted November 30, 2017 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

          There are plenty of people who are seriously concerned about tRump’s sanity. Among them, professionals.

    • Posted November 29, 2017 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      Nuclear Decision Making. Death is a one time thing. Threats, on the other hand, can be made to last a very long time.

      Good read here:

  2. Craw
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Lots of wars have been started by men who weren’t suicidal but were deluded.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Yes, but we’ve yet to have a hot war between two nuclear powers.

  3. JohnE
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    “But for many a bit of U.S. propaganda can’t offset a lifetime of brainwashing . . . .”

    It seems to me that the lack of success we have had here in the U.S. in “deprogramming” the millions of Americans who still support our own incompetent and unhinged Dear Leader doesn’t bode well for any similar efforts we might direct toward the North Korean people.

    • Eric Grobler
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      What about the foreign policies from your other dear leaders?
      I can list serious failures from every administration since WW2 notably Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Reagen, Bush2, Obama etc.

      • JohnE
        Posted November 29, 2017 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t mention any specific failures. I just pointed out that he was incompetent and unhinged. I probably should have been more specific an pointed out that never in my lifetime (I’m 64) have we had a president who is this narcissistic, xenophobic, jingoistic, misogynistic, juvenile, callous and vindictive, who has never done anything for another human being that didn’t put money in his own pocket, who literally steals from his own charitable foundation (to purchase paintings of himself and to pay governmental fines imposed on his businesses), who has no governmental experience, no idea how the government actually operates, no idea what the constitution says, no understanding of trade policy, no understanding of foreign policy, never thinks before he speaks, and who is roundly condemned by legions of conservatives (Conservatives!) including Mitt Romney, who called Trump “a phony and a fraud” and castigated him for “the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third-grade theatrics”, Colin Powell who called Trump a “national disgrace,” 50 former conservative national security advisors who published an open letter in the New York Times calling Trump “ignorant and dangerous” and saying he would be “the most reckless president in American history,” and 75 former career Foreign Service officers who served under Republican and Democratic presidents who published a letter declaring that Trump was “entirely unqualified to serve as President and Commander-in-Chief.” I could go on, but I’m hopeful this is enough to help clarify my position.

        • Eric Grobler
          Posted November 29, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

          I agree with your disgust with Trump.
          However, I just want to point out that if Clinton was elected it would not automatically follow than the US would have had a rational/non dangerous foreign policiy.
          I was for example not impressed with her tenure as Secretary of State and I got the impression that Obama had to moderate her policies.

          I think we all can agree that Trump is a narcissistic dysfunctional child, but there is a danger that the left projects all the ill’s of society on him personally and loses sight of systemic problems economically/politically/culturally that existed before Trump entered the scene which made it possible for him to be President.

      • Posted November 29, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        Every single leader everywhere for all time who’s ever engaged in foreign policies of any kind has had serious failures.

        What’s the point again?

        • JohnE
          Posted November 29, 2017 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

          Please read my last post again. “Every single leader everywhere” has not had the list of character flaws that I just described — character flaws that are just as evident to responsible members of his own political party as they are to those on the other side of the aisle. I welcome your efforts to point out anything in my last post that isn’t true.

          • Posted November 29, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

            Sorry John, I think I’m being unclear. I was responding to Eric’s whataboutery.

            • JohnE
              Posted November 29, 2017 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

              Thanks, mikeyc.

        • Historian
          Posted November 29, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

          Exactly. It’s hard to think of a leader of a world power that hasn’t made serious foreign policy mistakes. The differences between them are the degrees of the mistake.

          What word would describe a mythical leader who has never made a mistake? The word “God” comes to mind.

        • Eric Grobler
          Posted November 29, 2017 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

          “Every single leader everywhere for all time who’s ever engaged in foreign policies of any kind has had serious failures”

          Well obviously some had less failures and more successes than others.

          My point is that America’s foreign policies/adventures since the 1950’s have been largely a mess, and I just get irritated by the suggestion that things were good before and now it will turn to armageddon.
          Trump is so useless and has so little respect from eveyone including the millitary that it is entirely possible that nothing is done.
          Bush managed to get support from countries like the UK for his Iraq invasion, I doubt any western country will support Trump in any aggressive foreign adventures.

        • Eric Grobler
          Posted November 29, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

          The point is that the US did a lot of “bad shit” since the 1950’s and whether a democrat or republican was in office did not seem to make a difference.
          So it would be appreciated by the rest of the world if Americans would try to rectify that and scrutinize the role of the Pentagon, CIA, defence contractors and other actors so that as the leader of the free world your foreign policies could be more construcive.

          • GBJames
            Posted November 29, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

            “leader of the free world”

            I believe we’ve resigned from that position. Or at least we’re doing our best to run from it.

            • Eric Grobler
              Posted November 29, 2017 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

              I think you can take a short haitus until Trump is impeached!

          • Posted November 29, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

            Yes the U.S. has done some “bad shit” since the 1950s, although there is a good deal of debate about the “bad”. Every decade before that too. So has every other country. So what? How does the fact that the U.S. has acted poorly on many occasions in the past change the underlying issues with respect to Trump and PDNK?

            • JohnE
              Posted November 29, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

              Agreed. In my experience, most of the people commenting at this site seem to be smart people. But smart people should be able to recognize and call false equivalencies. The fact that Barack Obama may once have farted in church does nothing to excuse the tsunami of egregious character flaws and moral failings of Mr. Trump.

              • JohnE
                Posted November 29, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

                OOPS: “. . . recognize and call OUT false equivalencies.”

              • Eric Grobler
                Posted November 29, 2017 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

                Hi JohnE
                “tsunami of egregious character flaws and moral failings of Mr. Trump.”
                Are you referring to me? Did I deny or minimize Trump’s odious character or draw any equivalence with any other President?

                If you read my posts I made the point that people ignore structural issues in the American political system and the role that many actors such as the CIA and defence contractors play irrespective of the President.

            • Eric Grobler
              Posted November 29, 2017 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

              “underlying issues with respect to Trump”
              Because I believe the acting President’s role in American foreign policy is more limited than what people think.
              Many people get completely hysterical about Trump (understandably), but I think Trump is a symptom of an underlying disease.

              I am just getting tired of intelligent people jumping up and down and say “look how Trump is X and Y” while not trying to indentify and rectify the reasons why he came to power and asking how an intelligent superpower often act so stupidly on the world stage.

              Many democrats love to pretend that only the republicans are the evil, stupid ones.
              I was disgusted when Clinton refused to sign the treaty to ban the use of land mines. Only the US, Russa and China voted against the treaty.
              Now if Trump would do a similar thing, people would say, see there goes Trump again, acting as only he would do such a thing.
              I hate Trump and he is an embarrassment to humanity but he does not have a monopoly on making bad and self serving decisions.

              • klf
                Posted November 29, 2017 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

                We get it, you can see both sides. Woo effing hoo.

              • Eric Grobler
                Posted November 30, 2017 at 4:44 am | Permalink

                “We get it, you can see both sides. Woo effing hoo.”

                To all the TRIBALISTS out there, please read this article:

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted November 30, 2017 at 5:05 am | Permalink

                Please don’t write “we”, instead of “I”, in comments without identifying the there are indeed others you are representing – I’m NOT part of the “we” you’ve unilaterally deployed! It’s simpler to use “I”. The “we” is an old, smug, A+ dog-piling script for displaying superiority/dominance – it’s really annoying!

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted November 30, 2017 at 7:14 am | Permalink

                Ok, we get that, too, Michael. 🙂

  4. GBJames
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Kim Jong-un may not be suicidal but I worry that he may come to believe his own propaganda, if he doesn’t already.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      The problem with dictators like Un is that they exist in a bubble created by the fear they have instilled in their underlings. I suspect it would take a reckless disregard for one’s own safety to give him a frank assessment of the potential outcomes of war.

      • kevinj
        Posted November 29, 2017 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        The NK leadership have always seem to be fairly good at dancing around the line and so I doubt he is that deluded.
        Main issue though is if he gets into an ego competition where everyone loses.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    In the U.S. we are talking about a president who has gutted the department of state, the very government agency that has the expertise and ability to negotiate and conduct dialogue with China, N. Korea and essentially all countries of the world. Our leadership in this area is now nearly gone, along with respect for our country. We have an X CEO of Exxon oil who frankly, does not have a clue and is only slightly better than the guy he works for. Our only hope for a better conclusion in world affairs will be the departure of this joke we have now. I really do not see that Kristof teaches us anything that we do not already know.

  6. J. Quinton
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    I watched an interesting documentary about N. Korea ( One thing I thought was interesting was that there are S. Korean agitators who do things like perform radio broadcasts from the south that are accessible to N. Koreans. Undercover video in the documentary shows some N. Korean teenagers huddling in the dark listening to the broadcasts in secret and hurrying to turn it off once their parents (I presume) arrive.

    If the view presented in the docu is to be believed, there are lots of N. Koreans hungry for freedom and/or at least capitalism; black markets exist where people trade goods or Chinese/Korean movies for scraps of money.

    I recommend watching it if you have free time. It’s only an hour long.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    A while back, Trump said he was “locked & loaded” and ready to rain down “fire & fury” on NoKo should it make another “threat” against the US or its allies. Since Trump drew that line in the sand, Kim Jong-un has repeatedly threatened the US and its allies in word and deed. And the Donald has done … nothing. Last night, after the DPRK launched its most potent ballistic missile to date, Trump was asked what he plans to do and had nothing left in his quiver but the lame promise that “we will take care of it” — what someone says when they don’t know what to say.

    Trump’s greatest fear in the world is to look like a sad, weak loser. He’s run out of options to avoid this in NoKo, save some foolhardy military action on the Korean peninsula. The great existential threat to the world today is his itchy finger on the trigger.

    • W.Benson
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      Madman for madman, I think Kim Jong-Un is a lesser danger than Trump, who — and I agree with Susan Sarandon on this — is a lesser danger than Hillary would have been as president. JohnE above and Mark in comment 11 also make sense.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted November 29, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        Yes. Kim Jong-un is queer in the head, despicable to his own people, and willing risk treacherous brinkmanship. But there’s nothing to suggest he’s suicidal. And he knows launching an offensive first strike of his own would be suicide — for himself, his regime, his country.

        Trump, on the other hand, could easily back himself into a corner, whence he orders an offensive military strike against North Korea merely to maintain his macho cred. The wildcard here is Russia, and just how compromised Trump is to Vladimir Putin and his oligarchs.

  8. Posted November 29, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    I wish I knew how much of this is acting crazy as a strategy versus how much is the fact that Jong-un and Trump are truly crazy.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      How truly crazy Trump is may still be determined. The current problem, however, is how dangerous he is. The experts in mental illness say that a clinical definition is not necessary as we know enough from his behavior and actions to be sure that he is dangerous.

  9. Posted November 29, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I think Un will always act to preserve his power but what if there’s a successful coup and Un is about to be arrested and executed? He might launch his nukes out of spite. Is there a possibility of some NK commander at the front lobbing some artillery shells at Seoul because he thinks the ensuing war will be the only thing that could free NK?
    These people have an irrational visceral hatred for us and now they have nukes. Each scenario for war may be individually improbable, but they add up.

    • Posted November 29, 2017 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

      It’s Kim, or Jong-Un. He’s Korean. Kim is thhe family name.

  10. simonchicago
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    One should not underestimate the power of information/propaganda. People listened to BBC radio in Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union. The Romanian dictator Ceasescu confiscated typewriters to stop dissent. Solidarity in Poland triumphed in part because workers had access to printing presses and printed underground newspapers and pamphlets.
    We should bombard NK with USB drives.

    • W.Benson
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think there is a person in North Korea who didn’t lose grandparents to American military action during the Korean War. Japan, the previous occupier, was a US ally. According to Wikipedia, during the war N. Korea suffered about 1.5 million military and civilian deaths and a similar number of injured, which comes out to 30% of the population (of 10 million) at the time.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted November 29, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        I do not believe the younger generation in N. Korea knows anything truthful about the Korean War. All they have is the junk pumped into them by their government. Hell, they think we started the war and they won. You cannot get more wrong than that. Even in South Korea the people younger than 40 or so have no memory of the War. It is simply history and many of the younger ones would like us to leave.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      @simonchicago I agree with you. Also mini-sat TV/radios with access to world news [block only the Fox channels & RT]

      Most N. Korean citizens, it is claimed, have access to devices with a USB port. There is already an organisation smuggling USBs packed with documents into N. Korea: Flashdrives for Freedom

      It surprises me that their devices have such ports, but then just about every ‘secure’ organisation everywhere makes the error of not disabling unnecessary ports, file sharing & etc.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted November 30, 2017 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      We should bombard NK with USB drives.

      But you can’t write very much on the side of a USB stick. Paper is probably a better material for transmitting information.
      Just how many people do you think there are per computer in DPRK? When we were dealing with them we were having to digitise paper documents because that is all there was. Their military might be better, but industry – no.

  11. Posted November 29, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    There are no perfect solutions here, but here is one that may be the least terrible solution.
    1. Sign a truce officially ending the Korean war. No victor is declared.
    2. Coordinate withdrawel of forward land and sea forces from both sides of the NK borders. Monitors can stay, mutually watching each other.
    3. NK can continue its nuclear weopons program. This program is mainly a deterrent against being attacked anyway, and all the unsuccesful efforts to stop it has been politically useful to the NK leadership. Lets’ just end that distraction.
    4. NK must agree to stop launcing missiles toward South Korea and Japan. If they want to test missiles, do it the same way other responsible powers do. NK must not sell their missile or nuclear technology to other interested parties.
    5. Establish diplomatic relations, and later work to expand trade and new manufacturing jobs in NK. Open up the country economically. South Korea and NK can work on having their citizens visit each other. See long lost relatives, etc.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      I do not see very much of this idea ever happening. We are not going to agree to N. Korea, in it’s current form going ahead with their nuclear weapons and still do business with them. The leaders of the north need enemies, (that is us) in order to survive and stay in power. They are not going to open up and allow any freedoms that let the outside world in. You see there is no internet in N. Korea and there will not be one as long as the current people are in power.

      The north wants reunification with the south but on their terms and that will never happen either so forget that peace treaty. There is one country that can make N. Korea do anything and that is even questionable. China likes it they way it is.

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted November 29, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        This is an important point. The successive Kims have said for decades that they want a post-Korean War peace treaty with the US – and this would entail, in the end, the removal of US troops from the South, and a lowering of the credibility of the US commitment to SK’s defence.

        This would make possible the reunification of the peninsula under NK terms (Seoul being vulnerable to no-notice attack, and therefore to any credible NK threat). And China would be intensely relaxed about such an outcome.

        Paranoid? Maybe. The thing about paranoia is that sometimes they really are out to get you.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted November 29, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I recall a reunification in Germany and no sane person would have considered East Germany being the dominate player in that union. Poor country takes over rich country and everything is good… Korea is the same thing only much worse. South Korea is now a modern democratic country of more than 50 million people. N. Korea is a backward, almost stone age country of half that many people. South Korea has nothing to gain really in a reunion with the north and it would be terribly costly to the south. The North taking over the South would be like the Quakers taking over Silicon Valley.

    • W.Benson
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      Item 4 would be a little hard for N. Korea to abide by. There is no way Kim can shoot an intermediate- or long-rang missile so that it doesn’t pass over some other country or a zone of economic activity. Even a shot south toward the Yellow Sea would go over Okinawa and the Philippines.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted November 30, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        You’ll note that the most recent launch had a very high trajectory, landing somewhere close to the median point line between Japanese, Russian and DPRK coastlines. That’s about the longest flight that they could achieve from DPRK territory WITHOUT overflying someone else’s territory. By the standards of sabre-rattling, it’s an intensely polite piece of sabre-rattling, studiously not being rude to the near neighbours.
        If the missile took a more normal trajectory, it’s range could have been something like 13 times further, putting most of the Unites States within range. As well as Moscow, London, all of China, Jerusalem and Mecca, if you want potential for stirring up trouble to keep you awake at night. Of course, no-one would be mad enough to try nuking Glasgow – the retaliation would be inconceivable.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted November 30, 2017 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      Item 5 has been carefully disembowelled by the governments of the west. Colleagues of mine have been trying for nearly 20 years, with me pencilled in for most of the last decade to be the “point man” actually going into the country to lead operations. The politicians have been turning the pressure up and down on that one and frankly, people have got sick of being bowdlerised about by the politicians.

  12. David Jorling
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think there will be a war, at least not one started intentionally. The chances of an accidental start are high, especially with three carrier groups in the area. I believe that Trump has been totally compromised by the Russians and is a Russian puppet regime, and Putin has told Trump not to start a war. It is in Putin’s interest to have N Korea as a ongoing threat to the US, to help free his hand in the Ukraine, the Baltic States and Eastern Europe generally.

    • Posted November 29, 2017 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      I disagree on one point. Trump is a puppet of Putin’s but he’s one who isn’t aware that he is. His own venality and stupidity are the strings which Putin pulls. So Putin can’t just tell him not to fight North Korea, but he can make him not do it. Just has to pull on those strings the right way.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted November 29, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

        Oh, I think Trump is well aware he’s been compromised by Putin (which explains his fealty to Russian interests since even before he took office). I suspect we’ll discover by the time Mr. Mueller’s investigation is over that, after his five bankruptcies and resulting inability to borrow through normal financial channels, Trump’s businesses were kept afloat on a sea of dirty Russian money, and that he’s been acting as an industrial-sized washing machine for filthy Russian lucre ever since.

        • gluonspring
          Posted November 29, 2017 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

          Agreed. It does seem likely they have something on him. I don’t think it’s just something embarrassing like a “pee tape”, either, but something seriously illegal that he can’t just shrug off. Money laundering is the obvious bet, but because I can imagine him shrugging that off (maybe foolishly), I also have a small side wager on an underaged sex tape. I think that’s one of the few things that even Trump’s lizard brain knows he wouldn’t be able to weasel out of. Also, it just seems plausible that Mr. Teen USA dressing room would go for some teen offering in Russia. The fealty to Putin is so airtight, that is, that it seems that whatever they have on him must be airtight too.

  13. stuartcoyle
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    After Bush’s axis of evil comment and the invasion of Iraq because of “weapons of mass destruction”, there was only one rational path that the North Korean regimen could take to deal with the perceived threat. They have taken it. I don’t think they ever had the option that Iran had to make a deal.

    • gluonspring
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      Also Gaddafi.

      The message to dictators everywhere: get your nukes while you can, or you too may end up being sodomized with a rifle in a ditch somewhere.

  14. Diana MacPherson
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    North Korea won’t stop with their nuclear program on the basis of a promise by the US. They are too afraid that they will end up like Iran where a US president backs out of the deal or like Saddam Hussein who never had weapons of mass destruction but got invaded & executed anyway or Gaddafi who gave up his nuclear program & then his head.

    • kevinj
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      For NK I think the cost of deposing him would be too high even without nukes so he would probably be safe anyway.
      However I agree he would be nuts to give up the weapons. Its a good safeguard and means he will have attention paid to him.

    • Craw
      Posted November 29, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      It is false to say Saddam never had weapons of mass destruction. Simply, undeniably, false. Look at the UN reports from the 90s. Or the gassings. Are you denying those happened?
      The question was whether he STILL had them in 2003.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted November 29, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        I do not see any question to that last question. He had gotten rid of the weapons. We spent months running around all over Iraq and there were no weapons. That was all Bush/Cheney propaganda. Until Trump came along these guys were the professional liars.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted November 29, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        did I say EVER had them? I thought the context of the invasion suggested clearly that I was talking about that time period not his entire career.

        • Steven in Tokyo
          Posted November 29, 2017 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

          Diana, I think you need to check how you phrased the comment: “who never had weapons of mass destruction” certainly reads the way Craw has interpreted it. Perhaps you _intended_ something different.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted November 29, 2017 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

            I interpret different. To say he never had weapons of mass destruction and then was invaded says exactly that. There is no ever to that reading. Besides, she knows the history of the guy so there you have it. We could also say he never had anything to do with 9/11 so what the hell were we doing?

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted November 29, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

            Because making he most uncharitable interpretation is always the way to “win” an argument. Context is important.

        • Craw
          Posted November 29, 2017 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

          Yes you did. Never means not ever.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted November 29, 2017 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

            Context is important as in “never when GW B accused him and ended in his execution”. But go ahead and keep watching everything I write so you can make the most uncharitable interpretation and reply in a great “ha ha caught you” if that makes you feel you have scored an intellectual point.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted November 29, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

            If you make a living reading half sentences you might want to look for another job. Get real man.

  15. Vaal
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Exactly the wrong President at exactly the wrong time!

  16. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    The way I see it, Trump is more dangerous.

    Kim Jong Un must know that if he launches a nuke, one way or another he will probably end up dead not very long after.

    Unfortunately this is probably not true of Trump, and he knows it.


  17. Posted November 29, 2017 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    North Korea know full well that they have enough nukes and conventional weapons that make them practically immune from attacks. What is not entirely clear, what else do they want? Will they start blackmailing the US once they have the next generation of nukes ready?

    The idiot fool is once again Donald Trump. He threatens and insults them (in bizarre and childish ways), despite that it is knowable that he has nothing he could do about the situation, except sending Agent Rodman, humankinds only hope.

    Each time N Korea can just ignores Trumps sabre-rattling, demonstrate defiance and throw eggs into Trumps face, again and again.

    From afar, its almost comical. Two cartoon leaders exchanging childish banter on Twitter, and as a possible mediator an ex NBA basketball player, who is bizarrely friends with both. Had someone proposed this as a screenplay in Hollywood, they’d be laughed out of the room for delivering something utterly implausible.

    As has been discussed on one of Sam Harris’ podcast, a way might be through China, and the upper elites in North Korea. They certainly have no desire to go up in smoke. I don’t believe they are suicidal. They will live quite well, and probably have their own kind of normality and routine. Unless not pushed too hard, things will trudge on. It’s an inverted Pascal Wager question. If I’m wrong, we have other things to worry about in this life.

  18. Jake Sevins
    Posted November 29, 2017 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    I’m worried about the little boy who couldn’t answer Kristof’s question. I worry he’ll be in severe trouble for not spouting the correct dogmas promptly and resolutely like many of the others did.

  19. Posted November 29, 2017 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    “The risk of war is greater than the public appreciates.”

    I am amazed that the NYT and nobody else seems to be addressing the strategic goal of the North Korean regime: invasion of South Korea without fear of retaliation by the US.

    With ICBM capability to deliver an H-bomb to Seattle, San Francisco or even LA, the regime believes it would be able to invade South Korea without retaliation by the US.

    Would the US trade a major West Coast city for South Korea?

    The North Koreans believe not.

    • Harrison
      Posted November 30, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      Would North Korean soldiers, malnourished and riddled with disease and parasites, be able to mount an invasion?

      Maybe they could turn the threat of nuclear annihilation on their southern neighbor, but I also think knowing what life is like under the Kim regime they might think that preferable to surrender.

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