3 Issues/Problems in S Korean Foreign Policy unrelated to the usual ‘shrimp among whales’ narrative

1. Sharp Partisan Polarization, particularly regarding NK

The result is abrupt right/left swings in foreign policy across partisan changes in the presidency, plus NK

fantasies on both sides: the right’s strangelovian paranoia about NK infiltration and NK manipulation of the SK left; the left’s adamant refusal to admit that NK is '1984' and similarly adamant insistence that NK is a normal country & brother Korean state whose inherent

cooperativeness is undercut by the Americans and sanctions.

2. Not Enough Grand Strategy

The Lee and Park governments produced rudimentary national security strategies; the Moon gov’t hasn’t even bothered. And MOFA white papers are more boosterish about Korean pop culture

and prestige-seeking than statements of purpose about ROK national power and values. The result is an inordinate media focus on exports & the trade surplus, plus a nationalistic focus on competition with Japan, while big regional questions like the Uighurs or China’s naval

challenge to SK oil sea lanes are under-addressed

3. Controversial Procurement Choices

SK is primarily a land-power, bc the NK army is huge. SK has conscription in response. But at the conferences, no one seems to like to admit this land-power-first point, and core infantry

issues - such as conscriptee pay (a long-standing issue), kit, or COIN training (to hedge the possibility of a post-unification NK dead-ender insurgency) – don't get the attention that glossy, high-tech platforms like US fighter purchases do. And next in this vein, the gov't

is considering a nuclear-powered submarine and an aircraft carrier (in part because Japan has one.) That's big money.

There is actually a power-projection argument for these platforms if SK is serious serious about its SLOCs and hedging China - per point 2 above. In fact,

here's an article today by a friend of mine on this very point:…). But the Moon government is dancing around China, so I don't see the procurement rationale...


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More from @Robert_E_Kelly

23 Mar
What otherwise terrible movie is an unacknowledged classic in your mind?

I’d have to say Starship Troopers
‘Starship Troopers’ really came into its own when Fox News turned into the movie’s jingoistic news network after 9/11
Hudson Hawk? Jaws 4?? Good grief.

Don't choose the worst dreck ever, but dreck that has some unrecognized awesomeness.

"Commando," e.g. Idiotic beyond belief, but with the best one-liners of Schwarzenegger's career and non-CGI action sequences which still hold up pretty well
Read 4 tweets
11 Mar
Since it's the 4 year anniversary of the BBC Dad video, here are some answers to typical questions and a few new pics:

A. You staged the whole thing to get famous!

Good grief. Please stop sending me your 'BBC Dad Truther' emails. I can't imagine how one could stage something

like this. It is genuinely the comedy of errors you see in the vid.

B. You didn't stand up to usher out your kids, bc you weren't wearing pants.

I have no dignity left🤦‍♂️. I remained seated, bc the show must go on. I'd done enough TV by then to know that.


Pic: James at Xmas
You just have to push through. I also thought the interviewer, @BBCJamesM, or the producers, might end it. (We are very grateful to James for handling it all with such aplomb.) And also, it all happened so fast, I didn't really know what to do. But yes, I do wear


Pic: Marion
Read 6 tweets
26 Feb
The GOP is now naturally a party of opposition, not of government.

1. Many (@gtconway3d; @AdamSerwer) have commented on the GOP's gradual embrace of ideological rigidity over competence, and know-nothingism in response to inconvenient facts. Good administration requires a

basic ability to admit reality and solicit expertise in response to its problems: . This is increasingly beyond the national GOP, where ideological policing by Fox News is a severe constraint on adaptation: .

2. But I am also

thinking rhetorically, of the ease, like putting on an old glove, with which the GOP and Fox have slid back into hysterical opposition to a Democratic president: .

It's been SO easy; all the old tropes & tricks can just be rolled out once again without

Read 8 tweets
26 Feb
The "Korean Journal of Defense Analysis" just posted an article @AriusDerr and I wrote: "North Korea’s Missed Opportunity: The Unique, Dovish Moment of the Overlapping Trump and Moon Presidencies."

Available without paywall here:…

It is fairly amusing

how much effort we when through to say in proper social science language that Trump was colossally unprepared to negotiate personally with Kim Jong Un and therefore massively screwed up. The paper is literally an extra 1000 words long, because we couldn't just say Trump is an


Here is a nice example:

"Trump also apparently expected no less than a Nobel Prize just for showing up, regardless of what he actually delivered. By contrast, the Nobel Prize-winning Camp David Accords did, in fact, durably reset
the Israel–Egypt relationship. The

Read 4 tweets
18 Feb
Watching Fox fawn all over Rush and bypass his gleeful harshness, while other outlets briefly touch on his passing and then move on is both disappointing and revealing.

Revealing in that it shows just how cramped and closed the right-wing media space really is. In the real

world, Rush is a figure of minor interest, a sort of a media pre-cursor to Trump with his mix of politics and shock entertainment, but no deep thinker or national voice. You probably vaguely knew who he was but didn't care that much, bc you haven't listened to AM in decades.

Hence the normal news notes his passing, calls him 'provocative' (an understatement), and moves on. Bc it's just not that important given covid, the impeachment, the big storm, and so on.

In MAGA-world though, Rush is some kind of patron saint, the guy who saved AM radio,and

Read 6 tweets
26 Jan
'Ray Donovan' should go down as the iconic show of the Trump era, like '24' was for W:

A violent, rage-filled, gangster-ish sociopath, unable to connect even with his family, reduces his opponents through clever stratagems or alpha-male displays of force and humiliation.

He is, of course, surrounded by beautiful, wealthy, and/or important women, and, naturally, they swoon before his macho ferocity and throw themselves at him (instead of, you know, fleeing in terror). He cheats on his wife to sleep with them, and then treats all of them, wife

included, like s*, bc when you're a star, you can do anything

And in a perfect Trumpian touch, Donovan does it all in style - buff, top-shelf liquor, designer clothes, luxury car - bc remember, Trump's problem with the Capitol sack wasn't the violence but that the putschists

Read 4 tweets

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