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News Link • Military

Nuclear Orientalism

• Tarak Barkawi via Aljazeera

Once again, the Crazy Emperor of the Hermit Kingdom - North Korea - is threatening nuclear war. Or so the media would have us believe. 

The BBC and other news outlets have taken to publishing maps with concentric rings donating the speculative ranges of North Korea's creaky missile systems. One never tested missile might possibly reach Alaska and do for Sarah Palin and the polar bears. 

The basic idea purveyed by the media and by US spokespersons is that Oriental despotisms -as Iran and North Korea are regularly portrayed - cannot possibly be trusted with nuclear weapons. 

Accordingly, US policy, to which the UN and much of the world have subscribed, is that it will "never accept" an Iranian or North Korean bomb. While rational people would never use a nuclear weapon except in circumstances in which it was rational to do so, unbalanced, crazy types might decide to unleash their nuclear arsenals, or turn them over to terrorists, or what not. 

It would seem that only rational Western nations like the US can be trusted with nukes. 

Images of Mad Mullahs and Asiatic Despots aside, there are obvious reasons why Iran and North Korea would want nuclear weapons. Most significantly, a nuclear weapon is a guarantee that they will not suffer the same fate as Iraq in 2003. One of the only times it is rational and credible to make nuclear threats is in a situation of existential crisis - when regime survival is at stake.

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