by Peter Zeihan on January 19, 2023
Apologies for appearing in your inbox twice today, but an error was brought to my attention. At second :13 of today’s video I say “North Korean” when I should have said “SOUTH SOUTH SOUTH KOREAN!” – note to self – always have that second cup of coffee.
Picture one of those old westerns where the outlaw and sheriff are about to have a standoff outside the saloon. The bad guy (who has never lost a duel) sweeps back his coat and reveals his shiny-six-shooter. The sheriff (who isn’t a great shot) then sweeps back his coat and brandishes a nuke…perhaps not the most realistic scenario, but it helps me get my point across. If your country can’t win a traditional fight, throw a couple nukes into the mix and hopefully no one is dumb enough to poke that bear.
With the *South Koreans* “keeping nukes on the table,” the conversation has now turned into what other countries should build out nuclear options. There are two boxes a country should be able to check before going nuclear: do they have the technical capacity to do so and is there a strong enough strategic reason to have them?
Just as the sheriff in our scenario knew he couldn’t win in a traditional gunfight, there is a long list of countries that would fall very quickly in a conventional war. Throw nukes into the mix and everything changes. Unfortunately, that list of countries is longer than any of us should be comfortable with.