Everything you say can and will be used against you.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Some Reflections on Trump and his North Korean Condominiums

For the last seven years, my family and I have lived in Ireland. So for the most part, my children have grown up abroad. That has had some lasting effects. The history they study at school is Irish history, European history, and Western history—it is not focused on American history, except insofar as American history impinges on the greater world. The French & Indian War (as I learned it) is taught as the Seven Years War, or the Pomeranian War, or the Third Silesian War, and occasionally as the First “World” War. Likewise, when I was their age, my family vacations—along the East Coast (of the U.S.)—was peppered with visits to Revolutionary War and Civil War battlefields, cemeteries, museums, and re-enactments. Not so for my children—America is too far away. We take our modest vacations in nearby Great Britain and Europe. But still we do what we can. This year we visited Bayeux. We saw the tapestry—not quite American history. We also visited Normandy—its museums, cemeteries, and, of course, its beaches.

On Omaha Beach, the French have put up two monuments—one traditional and one more modern. The beach itself is open and used. People traverse the beach and dip their feet in its cold water. Small children play in the sand. There is ample parking for tourists. There are places to buy souvenirs. And not so distant from the epicentre of the beach and its monuments—people have private homes. Maybe some of those homes are condominiums—I don’t know. What this means is that at some point, temporally and geographically, the mourning and the monuments must run out. Yes, the dead are buried. But the earth belongs in usufruct to the living.

At the outbreak of the Korean conflict, MacArthur believed the U.S. should engage in total war and defeat North Korea and its communist allies. For better or worse, his advice was rejected by the political authorities. Since then, more than half a century of containment has failedmiserably. The only path that remains open to us to wean the North Korean state off totalitarianism is peace. That could mean (among other possibilities) that North Koreans will need attractive homes (like the French at Normandy) and tourists (like the French at Normandy)—and that they should exploit that bit of the earth that is (North) Korea’s. For all the sacrifice of the Americans and others who fell at Normandy, I would not sneer at the French for living in attractive homes in their own country and doing business with tourists. For the very same reasons, we should not sneer at North Koreans should they choose to abandon barb wire and making instruments of war in order to build condominiums. Not only should we not sneer, we should applaud their doing so.

People sneered at Trump for telling Kim Jung-un to build condominiums on North Korea’s beaches. They were wrong; Trump was right.


Seth Barrett Tillman, Some Reflections on Trump and his North Korean Condominiums, New Reform Club (Sept. 4, 2018, 4:15 AM), https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2018/09/some-reflections-on-trump-and-his-north.html.


Tim Kowal said...

In the new age we forget the past, but we will never forgive it. And so, as T.H. White has King Arthur realize, we will only succeed in repeating the war and rapine of the past without its periodic glories:

"How did the fact of war begin in general? For any one war seemed so rooted in its antecedents. Mordred went back to Morgause, Morgause to Uther Pendragon, Uther to his ancestors. It seemed as if Cain had slain Abel, seizing his country, after which the men of Abel had sought to win their patrimony again for ever. Man had gone on, through age after age, avenging wrong with wrong, slaughter with slaughter. Nobody was the better for it, since both sides always suffered, yet everybody was inextricable. The present war might be attributed to Mordred, or to himself. But also it was due to a million Thrashers, to Lancelot, Guenever, Gawaine, everybody. Those who lived by the sword were forced to die by it. It was as if everything would lead to sorrow, so long as man refused to forget the past. The wrongs of Uther and of Cain were wrongs which could have been righted only by the blessing of forgetting them.
Sisters, mothers, grandmothers: everything was rooted in the past! Actions of any sort in one generation might have incalculable consequences in another, so that merely to sneeze was a pebble thrown into a pond, whose circles might lap the furthest shores. It seemed as if the only hope was not to act at all, to draw no swords for anything, to hold oneself still, like a pebble not thrown. But that would be hateful.
What was Right, what was Wrong? What distinguished Doing from Not Doing? If I were to have my time again, the old King thought, I would bury myself in a monastery, for fear of a Doing which might lead to woe.
The blessing of forgetfulness: that was the first essential. If everything one did, or which one's fathers had done, was an endless sequence of Doings doomed to break forth bloodily, then the past must be obliterated and a new start made. Man must be ready to say: Yes, since Cain there has been injustice, but we can only set the misery right if we accept a status quo. Lands have been robbed, men slain, nations humiliated. Let us now start fresh without remembrance, rather than live forward and backward at the same time. We cannot build the future by avenging the past. Let us sit down as brothers, and accept the Peace of God.
Unfortunately men did say this, in each successive war. They were always saying that the present one was to be the last, and afterwards there was to be a heaven. They were always to rebuild such a new world as never was seen. When the time came, however, they were too stupid. They were like children crying out that they would build a house—but, when it came to building, they had not the practical ability. They did not know the way to choose the right materials."

Michael K said...

Imagine a world where the Palestinians build a beach resort on the beautiful beaches of Gaza.

Could it happen ? Not in this world. Maybe the next.

Sam L. said...

They could, but it would likely start falling apart quickly, and the service would be poor. What else have they built so far?