Even a long, tedious, insincere speech can hide the unspeakable

Victor Cha, one of America’s most respected North Korea experts, was pegged as our next ambassador to South Korea, a position that after twelve months of his presidency, Trump has left unfilled.

Then Cha’s name was withdrawn., and the reason is disturbing: Cha had opposed the administration’s proposal for a limited military strike in a private meeting. That’s not rumor. The following day Cha published an op-ed piece claiming the same thing.

Now this could all be a bluff—something to keep Kim Jong-un guessing and fearful that Trump is not alone in his bellicose pronouncement. If it’s bluff, it’s a beauty—right down to asking Cha how best to protect American lives in South Korea after the preemptive attack. I’m not sure if South Korean civilians were up for discussion. Collateral damage? That’s about 51 million victims.

There were a great many disturbing elements to last night’s State of the Union address, but most of them were typical Trump: Look at me. Look at what I did. Praise me loudly. So when he lies about rescuing the economy, or decontextualizes black employment, or touts deregulation, or lauds the rebirth of coal, we can chalk it up politics, to stupidity, to insanity, whatever makes us feel better.

But when he mentions preemptive strikes against a nuclear power, one whose only chance of defending itself is through nuclear warfare, then we need to be more fearful than amused.

Victor Cha is one of those people who, in a tense situation, might have known how to deal with someone like Kim in a manner that did not center on name-calling. He’d have been valuable, but it seems that the president would prefer someone in the mold of Dr. Strangelove.

It’s probably a better match.




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