Two blogs about North Korea on Pearls and Irritations: taking a level-headed view of brinkmanship

Update 11 July 2017: another former Ambassador to Korea, Mack Williams, weighs in, suggesting that Australian alliance links with the United States are the most likely cause of our being a target for North Korean missiles (Pearls and Irritations).

Dennis Argall is a former Australian Ambassador to China. He suggests we ignore President Trump’s ranting tweets about North Korea – he is playing to his base – and instead focus on the diplomacy, which is being handled by adults. He links to the text of last week’s joint statement between President Trump and South Korea’s President Moon as evidence that there is some calm in the midst of the storm, particularly in relation to the potential for dialogue between the South and the North.

Cavan Hogue has been Australian Ambassador in Bangkok and Moscow. ‘Huffing and puffing by other countries is unlikely to blow down the North Korean house’, he says, ‘so there may be no alternative but negotiations involving a combination of carrot and stick set in a wider context than just the present crisis’.

Both articles were posted today on Pearls and Irritations, which is run by former Australian senior public servant and businessman, John Menadue. Menadue is one of Honest History’s distinguished supporters.

In the current context, readers who take a long view may recall the word brinkmanship, first used in 1956. The word means ‘the art or practice of pushing a dangerous situation or confrontation to the limit of safety, especially to force a desired outcome’. The year 1956 also saw the first use of the words antimissile, barf, dirty bomb, first strike, limp-wristed, meltdown, worry beads, and zilch.

6 July 2017 updated

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