Monday, October 22th 2018 11PM °C nicosia

Avoiding disaster

Stephen  Day

Stephen Day

Avoiding disaster

  • 11.10.2017

AT THE risk of events overtaking this article, here goes. In its time the world has seen some real madmen in power around the globe. Up to now, mankind has survived their madness. Thankfully, the advent of nuclear weapons has seen them only in the possession of the sane; that is until a literally murderous megalomaniac called Kim Jong-un, who sports the daftest haircut in the world, acquired intercontinental missile systems capable of carrying nuclear warheads and started chucking them about in all directions (thankfully, so far minus the "big bang" bit on the end). 
Anyone who fires a missile directly across a neighbouring country is almost inviting retaliation. Anyone who grins and applauds as one of those missiles splashes into the sea near one of his other threatened future targets, as he also brags he can hit American territories and parts of the US mainland, is literally stark staring bonkers. 
Some might consider that Kim's main protagonist, Donald Trump, possesses the second daftest haircut in the world and, worse still, is unpredictable and over-reactive (by the way, that doesn't make him mad). There is no comparison between the two. Trump is elected, Kim is not. Trump can be voted out or impeached, Kim cannot. Trump is subject to an elected Congress, Kim is not. So far, I haven't noticed Trump killing his own brother or uncle, or torturing and imprisoning thousands of his countrymen, nor does he go around threatening to nuke folk with total abandon. North Korea is an impoverished, justifiably isolated, downtrodden dictatorship. History has proved that any country calling itself a "Democratic People's Republic" (as North Korea does) is neither owned by the people nor remotely democratic. America is.
Trump is criticised for hinting at massive nuclear retaliation if Kim fires nuclear weapons at any American target. What is he supposed to do? Not bother? Not care? Shrug his shoulders and carry on golfing? Of course he has to verbally react and sound as though he means it. No responsible US president could do anything else.
North Korea is simply Kim Jong-un's playground and his toys are lethal. This crazed dictator is not only a threat to his own people, he threatens the world with, at best, a devastating regional nuclear exchange and, at worst, a nuclear Third World War. So, what the hell do we do with him? How do we control his madness?
Diplomacy? Well, that's been tried for decades and its only achievement has been to give Kim breathing space to develop his nuclear arsenal. Sanctions? They've been imposed and also haven't stopped him. Even China and Russia, long-time friends of North Korea, have supported further sanctions at the UN. That might make a difference, but so far it hasn't. Limited military strikes? Assassination? A pre-emptive nuclear strike? All risk potential nuclear mayhem.
The general consensus appears to be that the key to resolving this dangerous situation is China. About 90 per cent of North Korea's economy is reliant on access to the Chinese market. If China were to cut off all cooperation and economic links with Kim, they could potentially topple him. China quietly feels Kim is currently beyond even their control. The problem is their fear of the massive number of refugees who would head for China if Kim's regime collapsed and chaos ensued.
China might secretly want to see the back of Kim, but they also fear any American or Western attempt to topple him, especially by military means. The reason is simple. If such a military strike led to Kim's downfall, they don't want US troops or a Western-allied and reunited Korea right on their border.
So what should the US and its allies do? They should privately let China know that if China was prepared to intervene directly to oust him, either economically or militarily (or even jointly with the Western powers), the West would neither seek nor demand the reunification of Korea, nor would it interfere in the nature of whatever kind of successor regime China wished to impose, in order for them to secure a sane pro-Chinese neighbour in the north of Korea. 
China's concerns about Kim might be muted, but in reality they are as serious as the West's. Building on mutual interest and allaying China's fears about Western intentions surely are the only sensible ways forward. The threat of Kim's madness giving birth to nuclear world war is a far greater danger to all concerned than any nation's narrow individual interest. Trump and the UN both need to think outside the box. The price of not doing so is unthinkable. You can't teeter on the brink forever. 


Carry on Theresa
BRITISH Prime Minister May has announced she intends to lead the Conservative government until the next general election. She is right to say so. Britain is at a historic crossroads. The last thing the UK needs right now is the uncertainty and chaos of a Tory leadership challenge or another early election. The Brexit talks are at a crucial stage. Her announcement brings stability and certainty at exactly the right time.
There are those Tory MPs who called for her to go just after the last general election. Most have since wisely shut up. The Tory party is the great survivor of British politics. Their grasp of the realities and their understanding of the nature of power should ensure, for at least the next 18 months, that Theresa stays in place. Suicide is not in the Tories' nature. Keeping Corbyn out of Downing Street is more important to them than getting rid of Theresa. 
They also know the present government has to see Brexit through and also what a state the present so-called "negotiations" are in. Despite reams of British government papers setting out what they want, the EU simply rejects the lot as "unsatisfactory". They refuse to talk about future trade arrangements, vital to companies on both sides of the Channel, until Britain pays the EU's outrageous £90 billion "Brexit bill". We won't. This isn't negotiating, it's pure EU blackmail. They block everything, then talk of "time running out" -- and whose fault is that? The damned EU. 
German, French and Italian companies are screaming for the EU to allow trade talks to begin. Theresa is the one leader who can persuade their national governments to bring the EU bureaucrats to their senses. Carry on Theresa, there's no-one else.


Cheaper TRNC electric?
I SEE that a TRNC minister has announced that cheaper electricity is on the way in two years, thanks to plans for an undersea electric cable from Turkey. Wonderful! Just one little niggle: the scheme is bound to be costly, so who's paying for it? If the consumer escapes this one, I'm an electric light bulb.

Which donkeys?
I NOTICED Cyprus Today recently reported that the "donkeys are to be relocated". For a minute I thought I'd missed a ministerial reshuffle, but no, they were referring to our Dipkarpaz four-legged friends. Now there's a relief!

The traitorous kiss
JUST when you thought it was safe to go out, who turns up in the building where the Brexit talks were taking place? None other than Tony Blair, the Great Remainer extraordinaire, eagerly exchanging kisses and hugs with none other than Jean-Claude Juncker (yuck!), chief architect of the EU's efforts to frustrate Brexit. If you judge people by the company they keep, this one will take the biscuit. In centuries past, Traitor's Gate would have been Blair's resulting destination. It still should be.

What, no guard?
I RECENTLY boarded a train in Yorkshire. I usually buy my ticket from the guard. There wasn't one. Apparently, they were on strike because they object to trains running without guards. Now, let me get this right. To reinforce the idea that the presence of guards is vital for passenger safety, the guards removed themselves? Indeed they did. Which brainless RMT union wonder thought that one up?

Wayne's goal
I SEE Wayne Rooney may have stepped down from international football, but he might still be scoring. He is charged with drink-driving, after an alleged extramarital "night out". Perhaps we should list this one in the "own goal" column.

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