Not such a good year. Much appeared to happen in the United States, but the story is still emergent and so I might save that for next year. Furthermore, query what actually happened, as Tom Switzer pointed out recently. He also pointed out that Tump’s approval ratings were on par with Merkel’s, Turnbull’s, and Theresa May’s.
Nukes 2017 was a Korean kinda year, mostly because of the ‘BBC Dad’ interview of Associate Professor Robert E. Kelly, an expert on North Korea, a resident of South Korea, and a little bit because nuclear war kept threatening to erupt there (though the two Koreas are having their first public talk about peace in a long time). The memory of having children of the Professor’s children’s age is sufficiently fresh for me that the clip is one of the few things that makes me laugh out loud, over and over. It got better as it was revealed over time that the Professor was sporting jeans below his suit jacket and tie and would have looked even more ridiculous if he had got up, and it was enhanced by the wonderful mess generated by commenters mistakenly assuming the Professor’s wife was a maid.
Of course there was a serious undercurrent to this impeccable vaudeville which made it funnier. Or rather there was a serious undercurrent (possible nuclear annihilation) to the vaudeville of two leaders with bad hair to which the story was ancillary. Trump tweeted ‘I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.’ Little Rocket Man infuriatingly let off a new nuclear weapon each time Trump advised that he was prepared to ‘totally destroy North Korea’ (e.g. in an address to the United Nations), with ‘fire and fury and, frankly, power like the world has never seen’. Given that North Korea might very well kill and injure 9 million people in Tokyo and Seoul very promptly upon being attacked (compare Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s about 200,000), Trump’s talk was hopefully absurd, but I doubt the Japanese thought it was very funny. Seoul is just 55 km from the border and there are batteries and batteries of conventional weapons pointed at it just over the border such that Pyongyang has an unusually profound non-nuclear deterrent to nuclear attack.
The North Korean said ‘I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire.’ An evangelical adviser to Trump preached ‘In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un. ‘
Last year saw reports that Tillerson had called Trump a ‘fucking moron’ after a meeting in which Trump expressed his wish to increase the US’s nuclear arsenal from 4,000 to 32,000 nukes. Trump also railed against the agreement between Iran and the US, UK, Russia, France, China, and Germany by which sanctions were lifted in return for Iran committing not to build a nuclear bomb and to suffer intense monitoring. Fitting then that Melbourne’s International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a bunch of doctors and Melbourne Uni types, won the Nobel peace prize in Oslo after 120 nations (not including any state with nuclear weapons, any NATO state, or Norway) adopted the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty. Africa, Latin America and most of South-East Asia, nuclear-free zones, promised en bloc not to assist the development, threat of the use of, or transport of nuclear weapons and to work towards a nuclear weapon free world. Continue reading “2017: Not Such a Good Year”