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Solving a Problem Like Kim

To adapt lyrics written by the late, and in this quarter unlamented, Oscar Hammerstein, “How do you solve a problem like Kim Jong-un?”

Those nuns in Oscar’s musical treacle pudding knew how to deal with Maria – a girl they called a flibbertigibbet, a will-o-the-wisp, a clown.  They threw her out of the convent.  But then she cocked a snook at all of them and went and married (and presumably had sex with) a rich Austrian count, an ardent anti-Nazi (fat chance!) and lived happily ever after with him and his seven ghastly, incessantly warbling children.

Kim Jon-un has all of Maria’s faults – and a few more of the kind that would not have encouraged Oscar’s nuns to put them to music.  But Kim is unlikely to go as quietly as Maria did, least of all with a fairy-tale ending attending his departure. 

What has he done now, the silly wayward boy?  He had lobbed yet another missile into the Pacific, that’s what he’s done.  But this time on a trajectory that took it into Japan’s air-space.  The news caused millions of Japanese citizens to take cover.  And who can blame them?  After all, they know more than the rest of us the kind of death and destruction that nuclear weapons can cause.  

Oh, well, Kim has been ‘at it again’, as Oscar’s nuns would have sighed, as they did whenever Maria showed up late for vespers, after spending the day communing with nature in sun-drenched Alpine meadows. 

Donald Trump is probably now feeling much as Maria’s Mother Superior did. 


“When I’m with him I’m confused,

Out of focus and bemused.

And I never know exactly where I am.

Unpredictable as weather,

Kim’s as flighty as a feather

He’s a darling!  He’s a demon!  He’s a lamb!”


Well, perhaps not the lamb bit.

I share Mr. Trump’s frustration.  We all do.  Or so I must assume, since no one yet has come up with a solution to the perplexing problem of Mr. Kim. 

Not the United Nations.  Not the US Secretary of State (whose name I seem to have forgotten).  Not even the Chinese government – although come to think of it, the Chinese government may be the last entity on earth to come up with a solution, since Kim is a kindred revolutionary spirit.

Far easier than telling Mr. Trump what he should be doing is telling him what he should not be doing.  He should not be tweeting remarks that someone possibly even more puerile and volatile than himself is likely to seize upon as a provocation.  That is not to say that that the White House should be appeasing Kim and his nutty regime, at least not in the way a nice man with an umbrella called Neville Chamberlain once tried to play footsie with a certain belligerent power-mad German chancellor. 

But calling Kim names and telling him he’s unhinged and dangerous – even if true – is probably the least helpful course of action.  Yes, Chamberlain’s successor called the Fuehrer rude names to good effect but at first only from the safety of the opposition benches, and later, when in office, only when the Fuehrer had already unleashed the dogs of war.         

Meanwhile, what the rest of us are secretly hoping, without much expectation, and in defiance of our better angels, is that US Navy Seals, abetted by the SAS, or the Mafia, or all three, can find a way to, as they say in the movies, ‘take the man out’.

Of course, the chances of that happening any time soon are slender, even less likely than it would have been finding an anti-Nazi Austrian nobleman in 1939. 

The White House should either do whatever it plans to do, and meanwhile, if they haven’t worked that out yet, keep shtum.

Little chance of either, I fear!


“Many a thing you know you’d like to tell him.

Many a thing he ought to understand.

But how do you make him stay,

And listen to all you say?

How do you keep a wave upon the sand?”



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