Entry 41: Weak Powers of Concentration

February 8, 2018

Editor’s Note: This is the 41st installment in Van Jackson’s daily writing journal, “Nuke Your Darlings,” which tracks his six-month battle to write a new book on North Korea. Will he meet his deadline?


Oh man, feeling so exhausted as I write this. I woke up feeling under the weather this morning, which occasionally happens when I run myself ragged for consecutive days.

I forced myself to do some light yoga upon waking up anyway, and went to the gym too. I wasn’t feeling it, but felt a little better after it was done. Sometimes I force myself to work out when I’m on the verge of getting sick and I end up feeling better; other times it makes me precipitously worse. Fingers crossed.

Even though my head felt spacy, I had the sense I could’ve written 2,000 words today. I didn’t — more like 800 words — but they were coming more easily than expected given my weak powers of concentration today.

I stayed off Twitter pretty much all day. The Korea and nuke commentariat is obsessing about North Korea’s scheduled military parade today. Lots of good hot takes to be had on social media, but why does anybody really care? The strategic situation is what it is, and parading around military capabilities — even new missile types — won’t change that.

We need insights into conditions under which North Korea will use violence and/or nukes, which are manifestations of its resolve. We also need insights into how they would intend fight and use nukes. But parades reveal nothing but capability, and we now know enough about their capabilities to make our own strategic decisions.


Van Jackson is a senior editor at War on the Rocks and an associate editor of the Texas National Security Review.