Tunnel Vision

Moab was begotten by Lot’s daughter, through her incestuous relationship with her father. The acronym is also used for the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast deployed a couple of days ago in Nangarhar, eastern Afghanistan.

Because the thirty-foot behemoth produces shrapnel that can penetrate reinforced concrete, the US military deemed it appropriate to strike the network of tunnels and caves in the Tora Bora area. Now there’s a blast from the past, if you excuse the pun— wasn’t that the ‘Where’s Wally?’ hunting ground for Bin Laden over a decade ago?

This is the second strike within a week that involves bombs rather than soldiers, targeted at enemies who can’t fight back—the so-called Sunday punch.

The principal reason for these actions is to extract Trump from the mess he’s currently in, and provide him with ammunition (sorry) to make his first hundred days a success.

In the process, China is no longer a currency manipulator, NATO is no longer obsolete, and Assad in no longer just Allah’s problem—as suggested by Sarah Palin, another vacuous, populist fool, who when asked about Syria replied “Let Allah take care of it.”

The poppy fields around Jalalabad, in eastern Afghanistan, with the mountains rising on the horizon (photo from CNN, 2014). The Tora Bora tunnels live on.

North Korea is next on this shortlist of presidential successes, but it’s a rather more complex beast. Trump is relentlessly pushing Kim Jong Un, who’s mad as a basket of fish, and Kim has no choice but to respond, whereas the previous two targets were incapable of doing so.

North Korea is a tragedy, recently documented in The Accusation—although this short book is more an account of disasters than an accusation per se—and the elite can only survive by escalation. ‘Trigger’ Trump is now entering the last two weeks of his hundred days, and he’s pushing for a big one, something to silence his tormentors.

The DPRK has again begun transmitting bizarre numeric codes on  shortwave radio, describing them in Le Carré fashion.

review assignments in physics (under the curriculum of) the remote educational university for the geological expedition members across the country, or practice assignments in mathematic lessons (under the curriculum) of the remote educational university for expedition members of team No 27

These number sequences are supposed to activate deep-cover agents inside South Korea through the use of coded instructions. Thing is, different tricks are used these days, such as messages embedded in digital images, as I describe in Atmos Fear—we’ve come a long way since microdots and invisible ink.

Churchill once said that ‘war is too serious to be left to generals’, and that appears to be the thrust of Trump’s ‘policy’. When it comes to the Korean peninsula, three things we can be sure of.

1. If North Korea suffers a Tomahawk, MOAB, or other flavor du jour US strike, Kim’s boys will press a button. Possibly two.

2. If South Korea is hit and matters escalate, China will certainly not come in on the US side. Mao sacrificed 180,000 men in Korea between 1950 and 1953, in a proxy war where North Korea was armed by the Soviet Union and China—those are the official Chinese numbers, but they may be twice as high—Mao is on record as saying that North Korea would win, because for the US one death was a tragedy, whereas for China a million deaths were a statistic.

3. This is a very different set of circumstances to Syria or the tribal badlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The consequences for South Korea will be immense, and although as usual Trump won’t take responsibility, the US will be forced to act—destabilizing an area that China sees as its equivalent of Cuba. And I suspect China rather enjoys the proxy needling of Japan by the mad Kims—after all, the rape of Nanjing still burns with the rage of Sarin.

Meanwhile, in the European theater, things are hotting up, but in this case it’ll be the songs that bomb—mind you, they have for decades—it’s difficult to come up with as comprehensive a set of tacky tunes as the Eurovision song contest has feasted on us since what seems like the beginning of time.

Kids in Portugal used to watch because they couldn’t have long hair or wear miniskirts (yes, even the girls). But the country has long ago moved on—not so Eastern Europe, for whom this is an assertion of nationalism.

Georgia famously withdrew from a Russia-held contest when the organizers told them to change the title and lyrics of their song: We Don’t Wanna Put In. Now there is musical discord (sorry) between Russia and Ukraine, last year’s winner.

The Russians have produced a female vocalist called Samoilova, and the Ukes refuse to grant her a travel visa—they also reject the option of a satellite link.

I was delighted to learn that there is a twentieth-century history professor in the UK whose research specialty is… the Eurovision song contest. Here are some of her conclusions.

Every year Eurovision is telling stories about what it means to be European and that’s a form of political communication. One of the criticisms that Eurovision always gets is that it’s just kitsch and doesn’t mean anything. If you restrict that space further and take a harder line on what counts as political, you chip away more and more at the things that popular music can actually be about. It would end up damaging the contest and play into the criticism that it is just meaningless entertainment.

The mind boggles, and although I would certainly choose the word ‘meaningless’ over ‘entertainment’, at least the political scrambling is more along the traditions of Kim Il Song than Kim Il Sung.

When it comes to the descendants of North Korea’s original strongman, the world is at risk. Bigly!

Trump has changed his opinion (mind is too strong a word) on practically everything multiple times. In Portuguese, he would be called a troca tintas (paint or ink switcher)—someone who muddles everything up. In the end, it boils down to a well-known aphorism, which applies to the president of the United States in exactly the same way it applies to Russia, China, and Japan.

Where you sit is where you stand.

The India Road, Atmos Fear, and Clear Eyes. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

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