When I think of international affairs, I try to view the subject in terms of rational thinking. It would be wiser to say that I think of the areas of soft power, hard power, and diplomacy as areas where there is room for a lot of negotiation. This unfortunately leads to me thinking that every state actor is looking to achieve something that to them is logical and will increase their trade, security, etc. The problem with this thinking is when certain state actors seem to be insane. Take Russia for instance, whenever they are playing hardball about something its because their desires aren’t being realized enough to compromise on something with the US and usually when something decent is offered they are willing to work with it (the new Start treaty, though now its congress that is irrational).
This little monologue was designed to bring the topic to the state actor known globally as North Korea. For every day that goes by, it seems like the leaders of that country are more and more determined to blow themselves up and take the world with them. There has been a lot of talk about there being a new leader in the works and all, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t still be acting rationally. The whole idea behind having the nuclear option is so that you don’t have to use it. Essentially: the threat of the best possible offense is really a defense. So why are they suddenly shelling South Korea? Why did they sink that ship a few months ago? What are they hoping to achieve?
Is it possible that they live in an imaginative world where they can shell the South, take pictures of the smoke, and show it all to their citizens, suggesting that they are winning the fifty-year old conflict (date check please!)? Whatever it is that they are up to, it doesn’t look very positive for anyone involved.
Now, try translating this international view of rationality to the people involved with terrorism. Sure they have made their pleas pretty clear (every time we get a video from a cave somewhere), but there is no way that those demands are going to be met. This suggests that they are no longer operating under the guise of logic. In fact I am going to go ahead and say that they aren’t. They are operating under the guise of a religious dogma. I am not going to sit here and condemn religion, I am not a fan, but I don’t have a problem with people who chose to believe what they want to about the universe. What I do have a problem with however is when that belief threatens the lives of others. Perhaps what is most comical about the century we live in, is that a bunch of bearded men in a cave, somewhere in a desert, have the power to affect how we go to work some mornings-and all because they seem to think their god gave them a right to interfere. It’s a wild world.
Speaking of wild: when I moved back to Europe from the United States, Ireland was hailed as the prime example of how the free market could change a country and put it on a course to greatness. Well the bubble has popped, and to be honest I can see how it can be fun to watch a meltdown like this up close.
Jonathan Chait really enjoys the way that the right wing economists had written about Ireland then and now. I am a fan as well, especially since the joke is now on them.