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VERBAL JIUJITSU AT THE UNITED NATIONS REQUIRES A MASTERY OF THE DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN A PUSH AND A SHOVE.|
In pushing open or shut a door, the amount of force exerted is calibrated to match the inertia and friction of the door, such that the acceleration imparted to the door is sufficient not only to overcome its inertia, but also the friction of its joints, such that the door moves with a constant velocity that spontaneously decreases to zero, due to the ever present friction, until the door is swung open without causing an explosion, or closed without causing a bang.
Trump has a very carefully crafted speech that overcomes the inertia of its past policies on North Korea, and cancels out the friction of fear and hostility among some in the audience, and thus achieved its purpose of opening a door to a different pathway for all the players in this game.
However, the calibration toward the end, the letting go of the force pushing the door open was not as well timed. The result was that the door not only opened up as intended, it kept swinging around its joints for quite some distance, possibly ending up hitting the other side of the wall outside the door. This triggers Newton's Second Law instead of merely applying the First Law to change the process of peace from its resting inertia to its active inertia. That second law is that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. And that reaction, in the chemistry of a diverse forum as the UN General Assembly, may take some time to come back in a coherent manner. But, we will have to watch for it, and hope it does not begin another vicious cycle of escalation.
Trump said, "The United States has great strength and patience. But if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime."
The first two sentences overcomes the inertia of the the present standoff, and pushes the whole table of options into motion and into public view.
The last sentence, however, was a missed opportunity for victory, if victory is defined as the permanent and comprehensive denuclearization of North Korea, in exchange for a guarantee by the Allies of a permanent and comprehensive peace for North Korea.
The temptation to belittle Kim is hard to resist, especially when a smart appellation seems so easy and harmless to apply - "Rocket man" - funny, trivial, and not necessarily pejorative.
What is missed is the correct rejoinder to the first two statements that lets go of the push, and allows friction to do its job of setting both countries on a new course of peace and denuclearization - a win-win scenario.
How much better it would have been if Trump's speech writer had understood the fundamental strategy of the Allies to achieving its goals, and let him say, "However, if the leadership of North Korea is willing to agree on a permanent and comprehensive denuclearization of North Korea in return for a permanent and comprehensive peace for North Korea, guaranteed by the US, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea, or even by the UN Security Council, then I see nothing but a bright, prosperous, and peaceful future for North Korea and for its neighbors, as well as for us, and the world. We hope that North Korea does the right thing for itself, and for everybody."
Just a slight twist in the speech, turns gloom into glory, and truly keeps the door open, without worrying about the so-called "equal and opposite reaction" that underlies North Korea's declaration of its intent to achieve "equilibrium" with a country as large and as powerful as the USA, not that it can achieve this goal, but that its attempt to do so would come at a huge cost of lives and property for all.
Words matter, especially in a Babel such as the U.N., where even just one word can have 120 shades of meaning. It is not too late for the diplomats to repair the breach. Best yet, for Trump to do it himself.