Beware of Mad Dog

It's a safe bet that someone in the military intelligentsia of North Korea is charged with taking good measure of Kim Jong-un's enemies.  In the oft rerun movie Patton, a similar role for the German Wehrmacht was assigned to cerebral Captain Oskar Steiger, who recounts a list of General Patton's accomplishments and idiosyncrasies and concludes Patton to be "the pure warrior ... a magnificent anachronism."  In strategic terms, beware of Patton.

Foremost on Kim's mind these days is President Donald Trump as the two leaders exchange rattles of tongues, sabers, and nukes.  How is a North Korean version of Captain Steiger advising his leader today?  He would be forced to say President Trump may be considered dangerous but is highly unpredictable, famous for keeping not only his foes, but his allies, staff, and party members constantly off balance.

If Kim moved the conversation on to the secretary of defense, he would get a contrasting earful.  General James Mattis, sometimes called the "warrior-monk," is a dedicated student of world and military history.  Unlike his boss, President Trump, James Mattis is predictable – very predictable.  The list of Mattis's quotable phrases is lengthy and legendary, and all revolve around a blunt theme, as illustrated in his view of warrior diplomacy: "be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet."

The media may be stuck on the notion that the president plays good cop-bad cop only with suave and crafty secretary of state Rex Tillerson, but the president and the secretary of defense have devised their own version, perhaps better cast as bad cop-killer cop.  President Trump is obliged to ply a version of diplomacy, as erratic as it may appear, but Secretary Mattis, also known to loyal legions of soldiers as "Mad Dog," labors under no such constraints.  North Korea's "Captain Steiger," and, no doubt, Kim Jong-un, must weigh the military resolve of the U.S as personified in "Mad Dog" Mattis.

Kim Jong-un may be inclined to risk sparring with President Trump, but Secretary Mattis is waiting ringside, and he doesn't spar.  He annihilates.  Kim Jong-un may be rethinking his options.

Beware of "Mad Dog."

Dean Kedenburg is an anthropologist in the hamlet of Leucadia, California.

It's a safe bet that someone in the military intelligentsia of North Korea is charged with taking good measure of Kim Jong-un's enemies.  In the oft rerun movie Patton, a similar role for the German Wehrmacht was assigned to cerebral Captain Oskar Steiger, who recounts a list of General Patton's accomplishments and idiosyncrasies and concludes Patton to be "the pure warrior ... a magnificent anachronism."  In strategic terms, beware of Patton.

Foremost on Kim's mind these days is President Donald Trump as the two leaders exchange rattles of tongues, sabers, and nukes.  How is a North Korean version of Captain Steiger advising his leader today?  He would be forced to say President Trump may be considered dangerous but is highly unpredictable, famous for keeping not only his foes, but his allies, staff, and party members constantly off balance.

If Kim moved the conversation on to the secretary of defense, he would get a contrasting earful.  General James Mattis, sometimes called the "warrior-monk," is a dedicated student of world and military history.  Unlike his boss, President Trump, James Mattis is predictable – very predictable.  The list of Mattis's quotable phrases is lengthy and legendary, and all revolve around a blunt theme, as illustrated in his view of warrior diplomacy: "be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet."

The media may be stuck on the notion that the president plays good cop-bad cop only with suave and crafty secretary of state Rex Tillerson, but the president and the secretary of defense have devised their own version, perhaps better cast as bad cop-killer cop.  President Trump is obliged to ply a version of diplomacy, as erratic as it may appear, but Secretary Mattis, also known to loyal legions of soldiers as "Mad Dog," labors under no such constraints.  North Korea's "Captain Steiger," and, no doubt, Kim Jong-un, must weigh the military resolve of the U.S as personified in "Mad Dog" Mattis.

Kim Jong-un may be inclined to risk sparring with President Trump, but Secretary Mattis is waiting ringside, and he doesn't spar.  He annihilates.  Kim Jong-un may be rethinking his options.

Beware of "Mad Dog."

Dean Kedenburg is an anthropologist in the hamlet of Leucadia, California.