Most importantly, they’ve forgotten - we’ve forgotten, as a nation - that war is extraordinary. Attacking another nation is not a casual instrument of policy. It is a grave matter. You can see this memory lapse even in James Joyner’s entry: he doesn’t really think that North Korea will just up and fire a missile at some US city. He worries about “blackmail [which] would hover over our relations with the Koreas and the region generally.”Seriously - read the whole thing. There's more right in there than I've put in whole months' worth of blogging.
But there’s blackmail and there’s blackmail. Real blackmail would be North Korea trying to push us around - demanding we give them food or they nuke us, demanding we subscribe to the Juche Ideal (which would preclude giving them food) or they nuke us, demanding that the Japanese Prime Minister abdicate in favor of one of Kim Jong-Il’s hookers. There’s another kind of “blackmail” that comes up repeatedly in discussions of Iran, North Korea and Iraq, though, which is the “threat” that these nations will be less willing to meet American demands if we’re afraid they can bomb us. That’s not “blackmail” but self-defense. It’s not a threat if you don’t believe the United States must be able to compel any nation on Earth to do its bidding.
Real blackmail is an affirmative action. Real blackmail even tends to justify truly preemptive self-defense. The other kind, “penumbras and emanations blackmail,” doesn’t. It is not normal to attack other nations to prevent marginal erosions of supremacy. It’s also not normal to attack a new nation every couple of years. That we as a nation don’t notice this any more is one of the great dangers we face.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Jim Henley puts it better than I have: