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Asia-Pacific

Aug 11, 2017

There was a moment a fortnight ago when the real world of global politics and the parallel world of political satire joined perfectly. President Donald Trump took the stage at the US Boy Scouts Jamboree to deliver a presidential address. By tradition, this is usually centred on a virtue: courage, service. Trump devoted it to a celebration of his own 2016 victory, and then proceeded to regale the Scouts with tales of parties in New York in the 1970s: “I have to tell you the hottest women were there. The hottest.” We have long since passed the point where reality resembles a Saturday Night Live sketch. The US presidency was now a Harold Ramis movie — Caddyshack Three: Eighteen A**holes at the White House. Only Bill Murray, as President Bozonger, the Hollywood pool cleaner elevated to the highest office by a clerical error, could have done justice to that Boy Scouts speech. There’s nowhere to go after that. SNL when it comes back from summer break, will find that, to be actually satirical, it will have to be more serious than the presidency it is mocking.

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28 thoughts on “Rundle: US and North Korea are more dangerous than fiction

  1. zut alors

    A sobering piece, Guy.

    Prior to the invasion of Iraq I was one of the two million Australians who marched in protest – a fat lot of good that did, Howard was so far up Dubya’s rear end he became nigh invisible. We were doomed to participate. What’s the difference this time, merely two different players, two businessmen, Trump & Turnbull.

    It’s nothing short of remarkable that Turnbull lacks the courage to grant his own government a conscience vote on marriage equality but has now made us a viable nuclear target by pledging allegiance all the way with Trump, arguably the world’s most dangerous man. Why no plebiscite on going to war? That would be well worth $122M.

    1. Barbara Haan

      I marched also Zut Alors. A nun was marching next to me. As you say, our dear pollies take no notice. I too would like a plebiscite on going to war.

      1. Marion Wilson

        I marched also and a motorcycle cop rode into the peaceful protesters across the road from the Lodge.
        When a Prime Minister wants to make his mark he has no morality. I want a referendum on going to war.

    2. Draco Houston

      Worse still, we ain’t even in this hypothetical war yet and turdball has already pledged our support. Thanks turdball! I wonder if he’ll bring back conscription too just to get his nose right up into Daddy’s intestines.

  2. John Newton

    I heard an academic from a South Korean University (sorry forgrt his name) pseaking on the ABC yesterday. Ellen Fanning asked him how the news of the Trump Un thing was being treated in South Korea.

    “It’s on page 5” he said. “Every couple of years the North tells us they’lll turn Seoul into a fiery hell. We don’t take any notice any more”

    The one thing he worries about is the irrational and infantile president. But on the other hand, I think so do the generals. Doubt he’d get away with pushing the button.

    1. craig

      ^ This.

      The South Korean public seem to have been the most reliable gauge for what stokes the madness in the North for decades. The only time they were genuinely worried was in the early 90s and even then, nothing eventuated.

      Having said that, people seem to be taking for granted that the North would guarantee their own destruction were they to be the ones to kick things off, but – and I risk showcasing naivety, here – they also forget that Seoul lies less than 50km from the border to the North, with only 180km separating it from Pyongyang. That being the case, is the North not in some way geographically insulated? ie, wouldn’t anybody considering retaliation also have to contend with the possibility of wiping out over 50 million people to the South, not mention all those in the North?

      1. Guy Rundle

        well, yes, but the point im making is that this flashpoint is simply one example of a general condition that hasn’t gone away – powerful individuals have ‘legitimate’ authority to cause devastation and death. Making a simple calculus about the degree of risk this time round wont resolve the moral-political question

  3. Graeski

    If we manage to survive this, then I think it’s about time we all sat down and had a good talk about the hiring practices of Western democracies. How is it possible that in both Australia and the US we have such useless, non-representative drongos running the show? People who I honestly wouldn’t trust or employ to clean my loo?

    I have no idea what the options are, but our survival rests on getting better people into these key jobs.

    1. 124C4U

      I guess you buy a couple of “newspapers”and TV stations. You then use these to condition (brainwash) the voting public ( or Plebs – as in plebiscite) into thinking the way that you want them to. Follow this up with a media campaign to discredit the current mob of elected representatives, and promote and sanctify your selected future reps. Throw a few dollars and sweeteners around and it’s that simple.
      Ask Whitlam.

  4. JQ

    Is anyone aware of the current agricultural situation in the DPRK? It’s my understanding that the North ramps up the rhetoric and missile testing in order to negotiate food aid in return for subsequent ramping down. Are they in the midst of another famine?

    1. Charlie Chaplin

      One’s on its way apparently. I found quite a few online articles on it and have posted a link to one below. Thanks for your comment, JQ. I was unaware the DPRK does this.

      http://metro.co.uk/2017/07/25/north-korea-on-the-brink-of-a-catastrophic-famine-says-the-un-6804562/

    2. Venise Alstergren

      Certainly this used to be the pattern: one practised by his father Kim il Jong and his father before him, Kim il Sung. This leaves me with a somewhat queasy feeling. Is the present situation thanks to Donald Trump’s nuttiest, or has the MSM really gone over the top by provoking the winsome twinsome or is Kim jong Un as deranged as the press make him out to be? It is hard to believe that both protagonists are mental dervishes, perhaps Kim jong Un is saner of the two. What a calamity…the Anzac treaty to be invoked at a time when America has a nutcase president running the show. Not to mention our own Malcolm Turnbull who, as with all our previous Liberal Party leaders, snaps to attention when the Americans tell him to.

  5. maxcelcat

    Please pop this on Facebook so I can share the fuck out of it.

  6. Jack Robertson

    Bravo, and I bet this thread struggles to muster a quarter of the discussion of the last. Irony, satire, parody…the Holocaust ought to have equipped us forever with self-protective contempt for it any time it’s deployed anywhere near material politics. Even when it’s hilarious – John Clarke, Thick of It, Utopia (yes, that is ironic) – political satire isn’t funny. It’s craven, lazy and civically freeloading. Pretty pointless without any straight men now, too: ironic remove is the default operational mode of the entire political class, and the indulgent middle class malaise voluntarily disenfranchising the rest of us. The worst are full of #pantopassionateintensity, the rest, #Yeatsmemes#share#becozlikes.

    Oh for the days when comedians told jokes with punchlines in funny voices, then did a bit with a dog.

  7. Roger Clifton

    No thank you, I don’t want to be worried about N-named horrors. But if a N-bomb does go off in my city, by all means ring me up and tell me, so I can go out and look for the famous fireball. Yes, there it is on the edge of town, with lots of smoke from grass fires and inflammable stuff left lying around buildings.

    No, I don’t want my neighbours frightened either. Lord knows, the streets would soon be dangerous enough with ageing hippies racing around, shrieking “we’re all gonna die, we’re all gunna die!”

    No, I don’t want the authorities to get excited either. A self-important young man in a white costume would insist we get on the bus, just a precaution, quite temporarily, by order or else. Or else what? You’re all gonna die. Bugger off! You guys just want to become famous for having turned this city into a deserted wasteland, creating a welfare-dependent class of dispossessed evacuees, wasting the rest of their lives blaming The Bomb for their ailments.

    No, I don’t want the media landing in town to pump up the horrors, voicing ugly preconceptions into their mics while they find someone pathetic to interview. They’re all gonna die you know, they’re all gonna die. Like hell we are.

    No, I want them all to shake off their ugly fantasies and worry about the greenhouse, the only real and present danger for us all. Leave the ordinary folks to worry about keeping the shop going, the livestock fed and the kids off to school, to learn about other kids, here, there and in North Korea too. Bugger off!

  8. The hood

    If Trump starts tweeting about his precious bodily fluids and the dangers of fluoridation it will be time to take cover!

  9. klewso

    I wonder what Trump would be doing if he wasn’t so deep in the shit at home, needing a distraction….

  10. Keith1

    “But this will draw energy away from the postal plebiscite,”
    14 comments here, 111 under the two plebiscite articles (BK and GR) and growing. Hmmmm. I guess it’s a matter of what people feel they can do something about. “Peace rallies – what are they good for?” perhaps.