Yeah, I know. He's A Serious Foreign Correspondent.
He's also a shameless fear-monger.
You see, Mister Sheridan, I'm of A Certain Age – when I was young, your predecessors in fear-spreading would find an excuse about once a year to draw maps of “nuclear devastation”. You know the kind: Vaporised at X kilometres, killed by the blast at Y kilometres, dead in the firestorm at Z kilometres, everyone in the last circle to die horribly from radiation sickness, and so on.
I have no way to assess how many kids got how depressed at this constant You-Will-Die theme.
The prophets of doom have been utterly miserable since the end of the Cold War. Oh, they try to stir up a good head of steam about Islam's Ultimate Plans for A Worldwide Caliphate, but their heart isn't in it. What satisfaction is there in frightening people who are already nuts enough to believe that Al Qaeda can take over the world?
North Korea is a gift from Rupert: nuclear-armed, belligerent and insane, and the belligerent howlers want us to all return to the appropriate state of atavistic fear that we abandoned when the Berlin Wall fell.
Take it from an old hand: don't fall for it.
I have no idea what motivates the Greg Sheridans of the world. Whatever makes someone want to see other people fearful, miserable and blighted is a disorder too deep for me to even discuss. The same bleak, hellfire Calvanist heart beats underneath the chest of the cyber-war fear-monger, the “here comes the Great Depression of three months from now”, the End-is-Nigh sandwich-board wearers, and on and miserably on.
So I'm calling this out. Greg, people are not “right” to be afraid of North Korea, no more than they're “right” to fear that they're going to get MRSA tomorrow and lose limbs, die in a crashing Qantas airliner, or be hit by a meteor.
What if North Korea launches a nuclear strike against the USA?
That ends North Korea as a problem. Is China going to go to international thermonuclear war over Pyong Yang? One that involves bombing, say, Sydney – just because there are a few spare missiles hanging around?
Don't be ridiculous.
If it did happen, what on Earth can you or I do about it? Worry? Oh, well, there's the cure for Dear Leader's mental malady right there?
Teach my children to worry, like I did when the odious, unprincipled bastards of another era scored sales by spreading misery?
What's the point of worrying about whether Pyong Yang is insane?
Save your worries, your concerns, your sleepless nights – save them for things that matter. The people around you, since you can't guarantee that your lives and loves will last the next 24 hours, with or without North Korea or Cassandra Sheridan. Worry about the mortgage or the business, the boss or the kids' HSC, not missing the next episode of Game of Thrones, what to have for dinner – the small, the close, the personal, the things you can hold and trust and love.
Don't listen to Sheridan: if you do, it won't improve either your life or your epitaph.
And anyhow, North Korea isn't about to bomb Sydney.