Who is “begging for war”?


“Cho Tae-yul, the South Korean ambassador, and Ambassador Nikki Haley of the United States during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday to discuss North Korea’s nuclear tests. “The time has come for us to exhaust all of our diplomatic means before it’s too late,” Ms. Haley said” (source). But who is actually begging for war?


According to the US, North-Korea is “begging for war“. It is however a matter of perspective: The US – it can be argued – is begging for much more war, and not only in North Korea.

The anarchistic system – our international order – creates its own war logic.

In an anarchistic system consisting of sovereign states, states are responsible for their own security.

Problematic in an anarchistic system is – especially when issues and tensions between states increase – that one state’s security – its military capabilities and alliances – are another state’s insecurity.

Efforts of one state to increase its security, results in counter measures from another state, that confirm the (first) state’s suspicions, and is then used as justification for a next round of accusations and (counter) measures. The results is more insecurity and destabilisation.

This effect is referred to as the security dilemma and works as a self-reinforcing mechanism; the effect is intrinsic to anarchistic systems.

In anarchistic systems, self-fulfilling prophecies reinforce each other. Anarchistic systems in fact, do not disappoint: You will get your enemy; an enemy that is to a high degree an enemy of your own making.

Presently – as I explained in this blog – the international order – the United Nations – is (increasingly) obsolete: The power structure embedded in the Security Council, does not represent the actual power structures in the System. The UN is no longer (if it ever was) representative, and increasingly ineffective.

Sec council

The Security Council of the United Nations is not representative anymore for the international system, and is consequently not effective. It would be an unicum, if we could achieve a peaceful transformation of the international order. 


At this stage of development of the international order, issues and tensions can no longer be resolved, and instead accumulate in the System.

Presently the security dilemma is working ‘at full speed’, especially – but not only – concerning North Korea.

This is not a new dynamic. During the period 1495-1945, the System experienced four war cycles, when at a certain stage these dysfunctional dynamics were ‘at play’ and increasingly dominated the System’s dynamics, and relations between states.

In all four cases the dynamic caused the System to become critical, and eventually caused a system-wide release of tensions. The tensions that were released were then used to implement an upgraded international order, that (again) allowed for a period of relative stability.

If we do not solve – stop – the self-reinforcing dynamic that acquires increasing momentum, a next systemic crisis (war) is unavoidable.

Instead of issuing more threats in response to (for example) North Korea’s provocations, the United States should focus on the actual problem: the obsolescence of the United Nations – the Pax Americana – and commit to more – not less – peaceful coordination and reorganisation.

America first: Who is begging for war?