February 12, 2013

“BREAKING: NORTH KOREA TESTS NUCLEAR WEAPON”

Jim Geraghty, the Morning Jolt:

And you thought the Pope stepped on Obama’s State of the Union address.

BOOM:

The seismic magnitude of an “explosion-like event” in North Korea on Tuesday was roughly twice as large as that of a 2009 nuclear test in the country, an international nuclear test monitoring agency said.

“We can assume this is roughly twice as big in magnitude,” Lassina Zerbo, director of the international data center division of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) told a news conference.

North Korea said earlier it had carried out a third nuclear test on Tuesday.

The CTBTO’s assessment was based on its measurement of a seismic event measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale, versus 4.5 in 2009, and 4.1 in 2006. The U.S. Geological Survey said earlier that a seismic event measuring 5.1 had occurred.

Reaction from our president:

This is a highly provocative act that . . . undermines regional stability, violates North Korea’s obligations under numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions, contravenes its commitments under the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and increases the risk of proliferation.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs constitute a threat to U.S. national security and to international peace and security. The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and steadfast in our defense commitments to allies in the region.

The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community. The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies.

More “post-modern” presidential rhetoric:  all that is necessary is that we speak of what is warranted — in this case, “further swift and credible action by the international community” — and that comes to stand in as the rhetorical pseudo performative that replaces any actual performative, in this case, swift and credible action, either by the US or some collection of countries.

Much like the President talks about the need for a balanced approach without ever having to commit to anything balanced; or speaks of the need for compromise without ever accepting any compromises.

It’s a trick of language, and it is how the left manipulates public perception.  But there’s a way to address that, and that is thusly:  “if as you say, Mr President, North Korea’s nuclear testing warrants swift and credible action, can you please elaborate on how swiftly the US and its allies plan to act, and what, in your mind, constitutes ‘credible action’?”

Of course, this kind of rejoinder requires an independent and adversarial press interested in speaking Truth to Power, as the kids used to say.  But instead, all we have is a propaganda arm of the Democrat / New Left party who stands guard for Obama — and in precisely the way I’ve described: they allow to pass as answers those non-answers posing as plans of action, faux performative statements which carry no actual performative weight save to delay and defer and deflect, to give the appearance of doing something without ever doing something, to state the obvious while pretending you’ve stated the profound or earnest or provocative or solicitous.

In layman’s terms, Obama tells us what he believes we want to hear, ticking off the proper phrases without ever committing to the actions they portend — always keeping them as a future imperative, a point of latent galvanization.  Thus, “North Korea’s threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community” is a declarative that includes and implied promise, with no specifics about the promise, and so nothing we can hold the President to.  Similarly, the declaration that “the United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies” is a rather empty and obvious statement, with no answer given for just what steps, and no details offered for what comes to count as “necessary.”

This is the language of the academia, filled with hedges and pretend plans of action that we’re to believe are actual plans of action simply because they’ve been vaguely verbalized and coupled to assurances of future action.

Obama and his New Left allies are first, foremost, and solely political creatures. This way of speaking allows them to commit themselves only after events have played out, then to go back, point to their open-ended rhetoric, and either deflect blame or accept accolades — depending on how things shake out.

The progressives call this “leading from behind” and cheer it on, emblematic to them as it is of a change in American posture from one of hyperpower and colonialist / imperialist state to one in which they play Yoda to the world’s many scrappy Lukes.  It is just another iteration of their condescending paternalism.  Which, frankly — and dangerously — is really all they have.

And don’t think the world’s most savage and authoritarian leaders haven’t already seen the cowardice and opportunism that drives such a posture.

update:

George Lakoff, “Obama’s speeches are not just words — they are political action“.

To the extent that Lakoff would concede that “political action” is not the same as substantive action, or performance of any kind of active leadership, he has a point:  Obama’s speeches aren’t just words, they are meant as a way to create political conditions that provides his Adminstration with cover and keeps them from having to act in the way they wish us to perceive them acting.

But I’m quite certain that’s not what Lakoff means.  Which makes him full of shit — and his column an objective correlative for the arguments made in my post.

(h/t sdferr)

 

Posted by Jeff G. @ 10:13am
17 comments | Trackback

Comments (17)

  1. Thing is, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if this turned out not to be a NK nuke, but some independent testing/verification of a, ahem, “third-party” design.

  2. The whole progg milieu by now constitutes a front-running preemption for Obama’s self-victimization via all the things he and the proggs constructed themselves, from collapsing international security to Obama’s drone-war State and urgent need to reconstruct a new international paradigm of some collective sort; from a nation paralyzed in the medical crisis of excess federal manipulation and catastrophic crony capitalism to the need to thoroughly collectivize medicine and use it to force individual compliance; from a Ponzi monetary system and smashed economy to the emerging Orwellian, one-payer State and it’s global currency. Even from the abject failure of the Welfare State to the insatiable need to resurrect it from its own social and cultural dismay and moral bankruptcy.

    Of course, they’re laughing at us too by now, out here chasing our tails just to keep up with a tenth of all this propped-up madness. I’m sure I missed 90% of just the high points.

    And constitutional ethics? Barely a blip on the national screen. Until we grasp what raw unmitigated abuse of power really looks like, we won’t be having much of a discussion. In that regard I have come to look down on the bulk of the GOP and its own brigades of teat-sucking “press” as much as I have the activist malignants on the left doing all the lying and damage. For example, when’s the last time the established “conservative” press reported on the roughly one hundred billion worthless dollars flowing daily to the big banks, that being the sum and substance of the stock market, and from it, the American economy?

    Somebody remind the “right” that sitting around with your thumb in your ass watching and weakly trying to cajole the freaks throwing brick through all the shop windows is generally considered more cowardly than actually throwing brick. Being willfully ignorant of the crimes doubly so.

  3. But there’s a way to address that, and that is thusly: “if as you say, Mr President, North Korea’s nuclear testing warrants swift and credible action, can you please elaborate on how swiftly the US and its allies plan to act, and what, in your mind, constitutes ‘credible action’?”

    “I assure you that we have top men working on the problem. Top. Men.”

  4. What eCurmudgeon, plus Iran. Wonder if we’ll hear about them tonight.

  5. Similar comments about the weakness of our president’s approach from WRM, who notes that the FT takes Obama to task. ” He’s been content to make certain rhetorical promises while pursuing contradictory lines of policy.” Indeed.

    http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/02/11/obama-hits-sour-spot-on-syria/

  6. i never thought to connect the pope and the president’s speech

  7. but Carol the morning news crone on the cnn suggested that the big boom was a ploy by North Korea to get a shout-out in food stamp’s speech – so don’t expect food stamp to capitulate

    or something

    she was kinda vague

  8. a retiring hegemon vs. an aspiring one.

  9. Somebody remind the “right” that sitting around with your thumb in your ass watching and weakly trying to cajole the freaks throwing bricks through all the shop windows is generally considered more cowardly than actually throwing bricks. Being willfully ignorant of the crimes doubly so.

    What’s worse is that everybody involved — on “both” sides, if one cares to grant the distinction — is just begging for the backlash. As with all their other grand plans, they seem to be of the belief that when the bottom drops out, it’s going to be they who set up the new order. If history is any indicator, it’s equally or more likely that a strong nationalist rises to unite the country, jettison the sick, sad international community, ram through a bunch of his own “reforms,” and lead us into a glorious age of isolationism (if we’re lucky) or conquest (if we’re not).

    The revolution very seldom ends well for the revolutionaries. More often, they are used and then discarded by those who have the real killer instinct. Next thing you know, you’ve got a Bonaparte or a Pol Pot or a Kim standing on a balcony while the new armies march past.

    These idiots never seem to get it through their heads that they’re playing the role of Trotsky or Robespierre, and it’s unlikely to end well for them.

  10. What bothers me most of all is that I’ve actually heard “North Korea isn’t a threat to the US because they have no missiles that can reach that far (except for maybe Alaska and Hawaii)”…

    Not to give Fate any ideas, but why does everyone think “missile” when it comes to nuclear weapons? What’s wrong with luxury yacht/tramp steamer with flag-of-convenience pulling into (say) Seattle, passing close to Bremerton, and poof! No more sub base.

    Honolulu?
    Los Angeles?
    San Diego?
    Up the Potomac?
    New York City?
    Norfolk, Charleston, Jacksonville, Miami, New Orleans, you name it…

    When we are only searching a tiny fraction of expected and tracked cargo ships, how difficult would it be to set off a Hiroshima-sized bang on a suicide mission?

    If they can smuggle in tons of drugs, a crude nuclear device or two wouldn’t be at all difficult to anyone who knows where the weaknesses are. Get the longshoremen to go on strike for a day or two and it wouldn’t even be a suicide mission, set on a 48-hour timer while the crew catches a commercial flight to anywhere…

    Happy dreams, kids.

  11. Personally, I blame this on a YouTube video. Or Bush. Whatever.

  12. Why shouldn’t third world nations become nuclear powers? Why are we so all snowflakey special?

  13. Obama and his New Left allies are first, foremost, and solely political creatures. This way of speaking allows them to commit themselves only after events have played out, then to go back, point to their open-ended rhetoric, and either deflect blame or accept accolades — depending on how things shake out.

    An important insight Jeff. Obama seems to have an exceptional ability to baffle with his buffoonery and clog our collective bullshit detectors. How does he pull that off?

  14. Lakoff: Obama’s speeches are not just words — they are political action.

    When wrestling is dropped, we ought as well drop the ancient distinction between words and deeds as the markers of politics. And while we’re at it, celebrate the “may be” erasure of our self-evident central claims. Tee-hee. This tickles George Lakoff. For this is what makes for success, no doubt, since only thus would one reform the best for the worst.

  15. What’s worse is that everybody involved — on “both” sides, if one cares to grant the distinction — is just begging for the backlash. As with all their other grand plans, they seem to be of the belief that when the bottom drops out, it’s going to be they who set up the new order.

    I’m guessing it’s more likely the smart ones have their golden parachutes in order. I certainly can imagine the stupid ones, Biden for instance, thinking they can hang around a take part in year zero, he being beloved and all.

    I will say the image of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz getting left on the roof of the Capitol Building while one of Pelosi’s flunkies shouts that they’ll send the chopper back kind of tickles me.

  16. Happy dreams, kids.

    Drumwaster, if they promise to take the “up the Potomac” alternative you listed, I’d be willing to look the other way.

  17. How about Tokyo? Or Osaka? Or Seoul? Think that might not have a deleterious effect on world trade? If they set one off in the middle of the Sahara or the Gobi the effect on the world’s politics and economies would be roughly the same.

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