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North Korea Does Not Pose an ‘Existential Threat’ to America

The Trump administration is terrible at assessing foreign threats:

If Dan Coats believes that North Korea’s arsenal is an “existential threat” [3] to the U.S., he has no idea what the phrase means and his judgment shouldn’t be trusted. Perhaps he doesn’t really believe this, but thinks this is a good way to frighten members of Congress and the public into going along with a bankrupt North Korea policy. In that case, he should also be ignored. There are maybe two other states that could cause the destruction of the United States with their nuclear arsenals, and they would be destroyed in the process by ours. Otherwise, there are no foreign existential threats to the U.S. Referring to North Korea’s nuclear weapons as an existential threat is completely wrong, and it is deeply irresponsible fear-mongering on the part of the Trump administration to make this claim. The only reason I can think of to make such an unfounded and false claim is to build support for an attack.

Threat inflation is one of the most pervasive and harmful parts of our foreign policy discourse. Manageable threats are blown out of proportion, deterrable adversaries are transformed into irrational, unstoppable menaces, and limited dangers are exaggerated beyond recognition. That not only encourages ever-higher levels of unnecessary military spending, but it also generates unwarranted fear about the security of the country. That allows our political leaders to maintain aggressive policies that have nothing to do with the defense of the United States, and it leads them to embrace reckless and outrageous policy ideas, including preventive war, to “solve” problems that don’t exist.

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7 Comments To "North Korea Does Not Pose an ‘Existential Threat’ to America"

#1 Comment By Rossbach On February 13, 2018 @ 11:35 am

For a nation that defines its “vital interests” as world domination, any opposition is an existential threat. That is why US foreign policy will involve our nation in endless overseas conflict and never achieve any of its long-term goals.

#2 Comment By Clyde Schechter On February 13, 2018 @ 1:06 pm

And if there aren’t any serious existential threats in reality, how do you mobilize support for borrowing a trillion dollars to pay for an excessively large military-industrial complex, unless you fabricate one? How do you mobilize support for ripping up the fourth amendment, unless you fabricate an existential threat?

#3 Comment By b. On February 13, 2018 @ 1:07 pm

China lost 15 to 20 million people in WW2, the Soviet Union lost 20 to 27 million, Japan lost about 3 million, Germany about twice as much.

The US, 419,500 dead.

This country has no real conception of existential threats. It has no memory of, and no interest in, the suffering that makes the history of past and recent wars.

Despite “favorable exchange rates” in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, it acknowledges only the cost to those minorities in the US that were volunteered for duty one way or the other, as a letter of indulgence for all those that profiteered from the wars, or just found themselves “taxed” by them.

There can be no meaningful negotiation with North Korea as long as US elites know that they can set aside and dismiss the history of the Korean peninsula with impunity.

Lincoln knew that the worst existential threat to the US originated within its borders. He knew that, if secession succeeded, the endless greed of both sides, and the inability to accept a peer, would have written US history in letters even more bloody than those of Europe.

Maybe, if he had failed in his campaign to preserve the Union at all cost, an understanding of what war actually means would be more common on this continent.

#4 Comment By Grumpy Old Man On February 13, 2018 @ 1:58 pm

The term “existential threat” always invokes the image of [4].

I always think of talky French dudes smoking cigarettes in Left Bank cafés. They don’t threaten much.

My bad. This is serious and potentially lethal stupidity.

#5 Comment By Uncle Billy On February 13, 2018 @ 5:48 pm

Every nation on earth is an “existential” threat to the US and every tin pot dictator is the next Hitler. It’s getting tiresome. By the way, how did those regime changes in Iraq, Libya, etc. go? Not so good? How surprising.

#6 Comment By Andrew On February 19, 2018 @ 1:01 am

Problems? The Pentagon is in needing of auditing, the Pentagon is in need of being led by a businessman to gut the corrupt as well as any waste and fraud, nixing globalist advisers to the president and cutting off the cancerous limbs of the Military Industrial Complex.

#7 Comment By Andrew On February 19, 2018 @ 1:06 am

With failure after failure of test launches, fake guns within military parades, paranoia within their government of allowing any dissenting opinion, the ever ending policy of thinking one can control the internet and the outside world? NK may be a blip on our radar, but they are not a large-scale evacuation.