The analogy of scorpions in a bottle is perhaps most politically famous for its utility in explaining the dynamics of a nuclear standoff. Physicist Robert Oppenheimer famously invoked it in his 1953 warning: The United States and the Soviet Union, he wrote, each with weapons of unprecedented destructive power, were capable of destroying the other but only at the risk of their own lives. Lately, it’s bubbled up again to characterize not just the situation with North Korea. It has also...

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