“Now for a few tense and terrible days the prospect was faced. People looked directly into the pit. There can be no doubt as to the result: thousands and perhaps millions began to wonder if there was not some slightly less heroic but substantially more pleasant alternative”.
One fact our free and fearless press appears to have forgotten in its enthusiasm to talk up the prospect of nuclear war, probably over North Korea’s bellicose parading of its military might, is that for those of us of A Certain Age, we have been here before. The recollection of economist and commentator J K Galbraith at the realisation that the Cuban Missile Crisis could result in such a scenario is as true today as it was decades ago.
The increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, though, wants its readers to know that it’s OK to strike North Korea, because there are “Fears Kim has missile that could hit America”. But the Sunday Tel is also spraying its declining credibility up the wall by pretending that Boris Johnson is a credible proposition as a diplomat.
The yet more downmarket Sunday Express also considers Bozza credible, as it shrieks “North Korea taunts Trump with new missiles … Boris: ‘World is watching’ … DEADLIEST STAND-OFF”, and goes on to tell “NORTH Korea taunted the United States yesterday with a fearsome display of military might through the streets of the capital city”. “The capital city”? Couldn’t they find Pyongyang on the map?
But it is the Mail on Sunday that takes the biscuit in no style at all by thundering “KIM’S THREAT TO ANNIHILATE TRUMP ARMADA … North Korea tyrant parades his new nuclear missiles and rants: We’ll meet reckless provocation with all-out war”. And there were suitably scary supporting articles, just to make sure.
Like, er, “REVEALED: Kim's plan to kidnap Western tourists from South Korea to hold as hostages if the US attacks the Hermit Kingdom... as American carrier strike group closes in on the North Korean coastline”. And how would they do that? “If the United States attacks the so-called Hermit Kingdom, snatch squads armed with deadly nerve agents are poised to slip past South Korean border checkpoints to grab diplomats, tourists and foreign businessmen”. Yeah, right. Fortunately, reality has since intervened.
Yes, as the BBC has reported, “A North Korean missile has detonated soon after launch, South Korean and US military officials say, a day after Pyongyang warned the US amid rising tension in the region … The US said a ballistic missile exploded within seconds of the launch … One unnamed US official said it was unlikely to have been an intercontinental missile”. So it was all for show - like those headlines.
As the Beeb’s man in Seoul Stephen Evans has concluded, “This failure underlines that Saturday's huge parade in Pyongyang of rows and rows of missiles of different types does not mean the country yet has an effective nuclear arsenal”. He also points out that the South Korean capital is within range of North Korean artillery. Which is rather more likely to work. All those headlines are bombastic, scaremongering nonsense.
So that’ll be more of that power without responsibility, then. No change there.