'Barking Dogs Don't Bite:' Cognitive Dissonance and the North Korean Crisis
North Korean rhetoric is legendary and likely to heat up this week as North Korea prepares for its next provocations on or about October 10th.
On Monday, North Korea threatened to bring “nuclear clouds” to Japan and mocked Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, for acting like a “headless chicken.” North Korea's UN Ambassador has accused the US of imposing “an economic blockade” on his country and “clinging to unprecedented nuclear threats and blackmail, economic sanctions and blockade to deny our rights to existence and development, but they only result in our sharper vigilance and greater courage.” A week ago, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told reporters that the US had “declared the war on our country.” Then there are Foreign Minister, Ri’s comments where he attacked US President, Donald Trump, likening his threat at the UN General Assembly to destroy the regime in the event North Korea attacked the US and its regional allies to the “sound of a dog barking.” Ri was citing a Korean proverb that essentially says that ‘barking dogs don’t bite.’
Rhetoric comes with its dangers in diplomacy as it tends to lock-up or block ‘off ramps’ for both sides of the debate. The “Barking Dog” Trump has been no better than “Rocket Man” Kim in their response to one another. US President, Donald Trump, has now undercut his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and told him not to bother with back channel talks with the North labelling them a “waste of time.” The rhetoric today is not entirely new, nor is it any better or any worse than during the Cold War, where bellicose statements were common place. The fear is that rhetoric becomes the foundation for cognitive dissonance that leads to warnings signals and ‘off ramps’ disappearing all together. Take for instance the Chinese and Korean proverb that ‘barking dogs don’t bite.’ It is one heck of an assumption given President Trump. It is the kind of cognitive dissonance that allows people to sleep walk into war. Trump has made it clear talk time is over and he stepped on his Secretary of State to say it.
I don’t hear a dog barking, I am hearing it grow increasingly silent.