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Bloody Noses and Bad Ideas

Bloody Noses and Bad Ideas

Your Friday author has been fielding questions lately about a proposal reportedly under discussion within the Trump national security team for a “bloody nose” strategy on North Korea. I haven’t taken this idea as seriously as I should. Let’s fix that now:


What is the bloody nose strategy? It’s a proposal to respond to a future North Korean missile test or other provocative act with a carefully targeted attack on a North Korean military facility.

What’s the purpose? To signal North Koreans that the US is willing to punish them militarily for taking actions that threaten US national security, but without starting a full-scale war. Sanctions and threats haven’t made a difference. Kim still wants a missile, fitted with a miniaturized nuclear warhead, that can reach the US mainland. A bloody nose attack is meant to make clear that North Korea will pay a price for every threatening action it takes in the future.

Is this a good idea? I think it’s a terrible idea.

Here’s why:

1- If US officials think Kim Jong-un is irrational, shouldn’t they be concerned that he’ll respond to a limited attack irrationally — by starting a war that kills hundreds of thousands of North and South Korean civilians and large numbers of US troops in a matter of hours?

2- What if he’s perfectly rational and decides to launch a proportional response to persuade the Trump administration that the US can’t attack his country without consequences? What does “proportional” mean to Kim? A counter-attack designed to kill no more than a dozen US soldiers? If President Trump launches a bloody nose strike, and North Korea kills ten South Korean and American soldiers in response, what does President Trump do next? Call it even?

3- Why are US officials confident that Kim will recognize the US attack is limited? He may think this is the big one and decide he doesn’t want to go out like Saddam Hussein.

4- If US officials believe Kim Jong-un wants to use nuclear weapons to deter the US while he invades and conquers South Korea, why would a bloody nose strike change his mind? Might it not persuade him he’s been right all along to want a nuclearized ICBM that he’s sure will prevent a future US attack?

The bottom line: Attacks don’t persuade governments to give up their defenses. They encourage them to strengthen them. Neither Washington nor the millions of Koreans living in harm’s way know how Kim would respond to a limited US attack. Let’s hope we never find out.

The role of the public library has evolved over time. As we move online at an even faster rate, knowledge, entertainment and opportunities for education and employment are found on the internet. Those living in well-connected, affluent places may have come to take internet access for granted. But there is a digital divide in the U.S. that has left people at a disadvantage – particularly since the arrival of COVID-19.

Finding ways to overcome that divide in a sustainable, community-led way could help bring the benefits of the internet to those who need it most. One solution is to use technologies such as TV white space to facilitate wireless broadband – as Microsoft's Airband Initiative is doing. To read more about Microsoft's work with public libraries, visit Microsoft On The Issues.

Who does Vladimir Putin want to win the US election? Given the Kremlin's well-documented efforts to sway the 2016 vote in Donald Trump's favor, it's certainly a fair question. And while there's no solid evidence that Russian interference had any decisive effect on the outcome four years ago, the Trump administration itself says the Kremlin — and others — are now trying to mess with the election again.

So let's put you in Vladimir Putin's size 9 shoes as you weigh up Donald Trump vs Joe Biden while refreshing your own personal PyatTridsatVosem (FiveThirtyEight) up there in the Kremlin.

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Less than a week out from Election Day, 66 million Americans have already cast their ballots, and many of those are people who are voting "early" for the first time because of the pandemic. In fact, the early vote total alone this year is already equal to nearly half of all ballots cast in the 2016 general election, suggesting that 2020 turnout could reach historic levels. Most important, however, is how things are playing out in key battleground states where the outcome of the US election will be determined. In Texas, for instance, a huge surge in early voting by Democrats this year has raised the possibility that a state which has been won by Republican candidates since 1976 could now be up for grabs. Here we take a look at early voting in battleground states in 2020 as compared to 2016.

In a national referendum on Sunday, Chileans overwhelmingly voted in favor of a new constitution. But, why are people in this oasis of political stability and steady economic growth in South America willing to undo the bedrock of the system that has allowed Chile to prosper for so long?

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Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

One week before the US election. What do other world leaders want to happen?

Well, I mean, let's face it. Outside the United States, most of the world's leaders would prefer to see the back of Trump. An America first policy was not exactly made for non-Americans. That was not the intended demographic audience. Trump doesn't really care. In fact, to a degree, it's kind of a selling point that a lot of foreign leaders don't want Trump. It's showing that Trump is strong in negotiations and indeed is doing better for the American people.

That's largely BS, but occasionally it's true. I mean, his willingness to use American power to force the Mexican government to actually tighten up on Mexico's Southern border and stop immigration from coming through. AMLO would have much rather that not have happened, but the fact that it did was an America first policy, that rebounded to the benefits of the United States. And there are other examples of that. But generally speaking, it would be better for the US long-term, and for the world, if we had more harmonious, smoother relations with other countries around the world, certainly pretty much all the Europeans would much rather see Trump lose. The United Kingdom is the significant exception given the nature of Brexit, and the fact that Trump has been in favor of that, like being called Mr. Brexit by five or six Brits or however many did.

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