“Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.” (George Santayana)
In this case the lesson that is being missed is that if you push a nation led by fanatics far enough into a corner, while at the same time deluding yourself that there is nothing that they can do about it because of your superior strength and their obvious weakness, then there will be nasty consequences.
In the late 1930’s Japan launched a military invasion of China, and the United States responded to this growing threat by temporarily halting negotiations with Japanese diplomats, instituting a full embargo on exports to Japan, including an embargo on oil designed to cripple the Japanese navy, freezing Japanese assets in U.S. banks, and sending “humanitarian” supplies into China.
“Faced with serious shortages as a result of the embargo, unable to retreat, and convinced that the U.S. officials opposed further negotiations, Japan’s leaders came to the conclusion that they had to act swiftly.
For their part, U.S. leaders had not given up on a negotiated settlement, and also doubted that Japan had the military strength to attack the U.S. territory.
Therefore, they were stunned when the unthinkable happened and Japanese planes bombed the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.”
Right now the US military and politicians also believe that the US has overwhelming strength, and the fact that the US has been able to destroy North Korean missiles in the boost phase with – what – microwave beams? software hacks? – is leading to the same kind of pre-Pearl Harbor thinking.
The North Koreans might bluster but they really don’t have the capability to deliver a nuclear strike.
However, as I’ve asked elsewhere in this blog, who says that North Korea has to deliver its nukes by missile?
“Stunned” might be an inadequate word to describe US feelings if North Korea was backed too far into a corner and Tokyo and Seoul were vaporized by nukes going off in the hold of a rusty NK freighter passing offshore. Ditto LA. And of course, those tens of millions of vanished souls would be WAY beyond stunned. And also of course, our military and politicians would react the same as they did in 1941. “Who coulda knowed?”
When I was a child I moved around the world with my military family, always traveling by ship in the days before aircraft could cross oceans. I would spend hours on deck writing messages, sealing them with candle wax in bottles I snagged from somewhere on board, and then consigning them to the sea knowing in my heart that they were on their way to someone, somewhere who would read them. Sometime replies arrived at my grandparents’ house years later, and they would forward them to me wherever I was living. From these contacts I developed pen-pals who I stayed in touch with for many years. I was fortunate to develop, very early in my life, a sense of the network that invisibly but seamlessly connects us all. Thank you for picking up this message in a bottle, dear reader. We are here together.