I will point out that Korean Airlines Flight 007 originated in the US(Anchorage and New York) so while it was not a US airline there was an obvious American interest in what happened. Not saying that excuses the US from not speaking out more forcefully over Russia's destruction of the dam but just pointing out the different context.

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Biden is worse than trump as a speaker

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And that's saying something.

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I’ve been reading a very interesting book by Adam Tooze called “The Deluge,” all about how America’s failure to lead the world and set up a stable international order after World War One, led to world war 2, and the upshot for me partly is that Woodrow Wilson reminds me a horrible lot of Joe Biden. Biden is really all and only about making the world “safe for democracy.” He endorses a foreign policy of defense only when one is attacked, at the last instant, when one can’t possibly do otherwise. He allows himself to be led like his predecessor by the fickleness of public opinion, and he’s content just to reflect the cowardice and ignorance of noninterventionist American sentiment. Similar to Wilson, for Biden American democracy is a fragile thing that needs to be nourished, not a superpower. He thinks America’s unique innocence is to be preserved, like its economy needs to be protected, the precious manufacturing sector--as an isolated little glass castle, beaming either his bromides or Trump’s non sequitirs from its geographic isolation more natural to it than enforcing world order. Look at Biden’s Iran policy too, failing to keep sanctions in the vain hopes of resurrecting the dead-as-Dillinger Iran deal . Complete and utter disgraceful cowardice. The blood of countless Ukraineans, Afghans, Iranians is on his hands. And who knows perhaps he’ll let Israel go down too or Iraq. He’ll probably get reelected and just in the last 3 years the world is unquestionably a much much more dangerous place.

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A terrific podcast. Mr. Davidzon gives a great interview. His Cannes Diary published in Tablet Magazine is a fun read. He writes as well as he speaks. See,


During this podcast he mentioned something in an off-hand way that I think is very important. He said that if Ukraine still had the nuclear weapons that it agreed to give up in the Budapest Memorandum Russia would never have invaded.

He’s absolutely right. If Ukraine had kept just a small number of the 5,000 nuclear weapons it relinquished Putin never would have dared to attempt to conquer Ukraine or even invade Crimea.

This provides just one more example of American complicity in instigating Putin’s invasion. While the Budapest negotiations were conducted by Ukraine, Russia and the United States, Bill Clinton was as insistent and committed to Ukraine’s denuclearization as Boris Yeltsin was.

Supposedly the United States was to be a guarantor of Ukraine’s independence. While hind sight is always 20/20, it should have been obvious to anyone even modestly intelligent, that the United States would never send troops to protect Ukraine, a country most Americans had never heard of. The security guarantees were a fraud; that should have been obvious.

But Ukraine isn’t the only nation that relied on fraudulent American security guarantees. Supposedly we provide the same guarantees to South Korea. You would have to be out of your mind to believe that a nuclear attack on South Korea by the North would be met with a nuclear attack by the United States on North Korea. Not as long as North Korea has ICBMs that can obliterate the American West Coast. If the North bombed the South with nukes, Biden wouldn’t respond in kind and neither would Trump. The American response would most likely be empty rhetoric and idle threats. Recently South Koreans have been debating the value of creating their own nuclear deterrent. The Biden Administration has been working over time to talk them out of it.

It would certainly give China second thoughts about invading Taiwan if the island nation had its own nukes. Sadly it doesn’t. As the United States gets weaker and as our weapon stocks are denuded by our assistance to Ukraine, a successful Chinese invasion becomes more likely to occur and more likely to succeed. Taiwan made the mistake of outsourcing its security to the United States. It could well turn out to be a disastrous decision.

Japan and Australia also shelter under an increasingly decrepit American nuclear umbrella. Like an umbrella that turns inside out in a fierce wind, as China becomes more powerful, the winds are shifting in a bad direction. Ukraine, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Australia would all be responsible stewards of these powerful weapons. Yet for decades the United States insisted that they shouldn’t arm themselves because the United States would always protect them.

Ironically, the only non-nuclear state now working overtime to develop a nuclear arsenal is Iran. The Obama Administration negotiated a deal that would have made an Iranian nuclear weapon inevitable. It’s as if they hoped Iran would get nukes, just not on their watch. At best, Biden has proved that he’s indifferent to an Iranian nuclear weapons program. He desperately doesn’t want Israel to attack Iran’s program. It’s obvious why; Biden has bigger fish to fry with the Israelis such as dictating to them how they should pick their Supreme Court judges.

To be honest most of this is water under the bridge, so why bring it up? The answer is that our post-World War chickens are coming home to roost. The idea of sheltering allied nations under the American nuclear umbrella was always a fraud but it made Americans feel good because we could brag that the United States led the free world.

It’s time to get over that dangerous delusion. The reality is that the obsession with American leadership makes Americans poorer and our allies more vulnerable.

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Jun 11, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

No way to prove/disprove it, but I am certain that Japan and S. Korea are no more than 48 hours away from being nuclear powers at any given time.

They certainly have the fissionable material. They have the technology. They have the missiles to carry the warheads.

If there is an advantage, they and any number of other countries could go nuclear very quickly.

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The point of nuclear weapons is to deter your enemies from attacking with either conventional or nuclear forces. It’s unclear to me whether an ability to deploy nuclear weapons quickly but not immediately provides deterrence; maybe it does.

The South Koreans are in the process of making a similar mistake to the mistake made by Ukraine in the 1990s. Interest in developing its own nuclear deterrent has been growing in South Korea. The Biden Administration was horrified at the prospect.

If South Korea did develop its own arsenal it would provide just one more example that America wasn’t “back” after all and that American leadership of the free world was fraying. After a string of foreign policy failures a mile long, a declared South Korean nuclear program would be a black eye for American interventionists. There’s Afghanistan. There’s China’s diplomatic victories in the Middle East. There’s Biden’s failure to turn Saudi Arabia into the pariah nation that he promised. There’s the increasing vulnerability of the American dollar as the world’s reserve currency. There’s the increasing independence of the BRICs nations and their willingness to ignore American requests. There’s the failure of the Biden Administration to cripple the Russian economy in response to the Ukraine invasion. Earlier this week, as icing on a putrid cake, the leftist President of Mexico basically claimed that Trump was a more effective President than Biden.

After this litany of failures, the last thing Biden needed was South Korea to demonstrate to the world that the American nuclear umbrella was full of holes and was leaking badly.

Biden enticed the South Koreans with what is now known as the Washington Declaration. Basically, South Korea exchanges it’s ability to develop its own weapons program for periodic visits to its neighborhood by American nuclear armed submarines and consultations with the United States on nuclear policy.

This is a unforced error on South Korea’s part. The agreement is a fraud. The United States will never respond to a North Korean attack on the South with its own nuclear weapons and risk putting the American west coast at risk of total destruction. It’s not even a sure thing that the United States would respond to a North Korean conventional attack on South Korea with a non-nuclear military response.

Biden and the rest of the neoconservative and liberal internationalist cadres in the American Uniparty are clueless. Their desperation to pretend that “American leadership” is critical to a peaceful world in the 21st century may sound noble but in actuality, it’s little more than bravado.

Actually it’s worse than bravado. It makes our allies more vulnerable and Americans poorer.

In their desperation to maintain the fiction of American leadership, the nation that benefits most is China. In the words of David P. Goldman, China is Sinoforming the world while Biden thumps his chest. It’s like Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

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I'm sure you're right. There are huge disadvantages to being a declared nuclear power. It seems to me that game-theoretically, being a threshold power (at least, in a global power configuration like ours) is probably the sweet spot, which is why Iran endlessly threatens but never tests.

I haven't worked that out formally, but I bet someone has. And now I'm curious, so I'm going to look to see if I can find a paper that demonstrates it.

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What do you think the response would be in France to South Korea or Japan going for nuclear weapons? Do you think it would be a lot different that the response from the US.

**My personal opinion is it would be a huge deal in the US but would basically be met with a shrug in Paris. Don't know what that says about the US and France?

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I cannot imagine my fury and despair if a foreign invader destroyed everything that I spent my life building.

My home, my family, my friends, my community, my pets.

Perhaps worst of all is the loss of decency.

The loss is beyond comprehension.

The desire/need for vengeance would be dehumanizing.

Putin destroyed the possibility of a reasonable peace.

An American reaction, but when you give a man a gun, you destroy his respect for the Bill of Rights.

You also weaken his commitment to humanity and decency.

Putin laid the groundwork for an Old Testament vengeance.

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What will save them from despair is the knowledge of how valiantly and proudly they've fought.

My grandfather always described himself as lucky because--since he was in the Foreign Legion--he was one of the rare Jews who had the privilege to fight the Nazis with a machine gun in his hands.

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Only an imbecile could confuse me for a tankie, but I find it weird that the Western press is hanging so much on an “intercept” that could easily be produced by two Russian-speaking Ukrainians. It’s not the smoking gun folks are making it out to be. Besides, it’s just two guys gossiping about the dam collapse. We don’t know how much they’re actually in the position to know. Heck, the entire conversation could have been generated by AI, for that matter. The only thing we do know is the Ukrainians are going to say the Russians did it, which is very probable, the Russians are going to tell the World that the Ukrainians did it, which is well-nigh impossible, and the Russians are going to tell their people that they did it themselves because they’re so cunning and ruthless, which is what Putin wants the Russian people to hear. This is just a critique of the “intercept” narrative. After all, we’ve just been subjected to two weeks focusing on the impending destruction of truth and humanity via AI.

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I agree that a purported intercept in and of itself means little. In the context of everything else, though, I think it's probably the real deal.

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Jun 10, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

I do, too. I just don’t think the probative value is as high as some commentators I read have been giving it. Maybe that’s just the lawyer in me.

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