4 March 2017

The New York Times has run an unusually long and detailed article about the North Korean nuclear weapons program.  We have been worried about the North Korean program for many years, but the appearance of such an article by the Times suggests that the editors of the newspaper are aware of discussions within the Trump Administration that indicate a possible change of policy.  Business Insider also ran a long article entitled “The US is considering a direct strike against North Korea — here’s how it would go down”.  That article details the choreography of a pre-emptive attack on North Korea and how the US would attempt to disarm North Korea and address the possible North Korean counter-attacks.  We should keep a close eye on North Korea and China over the next few weeks.

North Korea artillery

 

We still do not have a clear outline of President Trump’s foreign policy.  He has made some comments suggesting that the traditional alliances of the US, such as NATO, need to be revamped, but we do not know what objectives a revamped NATO might serve.  We also have heard some sharp language on traditional US enemies, such as North Korea and Iran, but, again, no clear statement about what that language might support.  Most tellingly, Mr. Trump has supported a rather dramatic increase in US military spending although we do not as of yet have a list of what programs that new spending might support beyond some vague outlines of a much larger navy or a larger nuclear weapons force.  These types of ambiguities are not unusual at the beginning of a new administration and we will have to wait for more detail.  But Max Fisher has written a piece for the New York Times which suggests that the strong support for a more powerful military might be an end to itself.  The logic of a larger military is the logic of deterrence, a position that hearkens back to a very old Roman Empire strategy: si vis pacem, para bellum (“if you wish for peace, prepare for war”).  The success of that strategy is mixed–World War I was the consequence of over preparation for war. The strategy also relies very heavily on very quiet, but sustained and effective, diplomacy.

As evidence continues to mount that the process of climate change is occurring, we are also learning how little we know about the process manifests itself.  One such example is the melting of permafrost, soil that has been permanently frozen since the last ice age.  We know little about the melting of permafrost because so few people live in those regions and we have not been able to study the systematic changes in those areas.  But scientists estimate that the amount of carbon dioxide in permafrost is twice the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.  Recent studies in both Canada and Russia indicate that the rate of permafrost melting is significantly higher than models had predicted, suggesting that the rate of climate change may be significantly faster than anticipated.

Melting in the Permafrost

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Posted March 4, 2017 by vferraro1971

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