As Trump Rattles His Sword, Again…

As tensions rise in East Asia, they highlight the dangers of Trump’s unpredictability.

As Trump continues his saber-rattling the world becomes just a bit more unsure. Something that should surprise no one. Trump has expressed his belief the United States should in fact be more unpredictable.

Not long after the United States Navy dispatched a carrier strike group in the direction of the Korean peninsula following a North Korean missile test last week, Pyongyang vowed to counter “the reckless act of aggression” and hinted at “catastrophic consequences.” The remarks came amid rising tension in the region as satellite images seem to indicate that North Korea is preparing for a possible sixth nuclear test, and as U.S. President Donald Trump warns that North Korean President Kim Jong Un is “doing the wrong thing” and that “we have the best military people on earth.”

There’s nothing particularly unusual about this sort of creative, bellicose rhetoric from the North Korean regime, which routinely threatens to do things like turn Seoul into a “sea of fire” or fire “nuclear-armed missiles at the White House and the Pentagon—the sources of all evil.” North Korea needs to be taken seriously as a hostile regime in artillery range of a close U.S. ally, and potentially in missile range of another. But its leadership lobs threats so promiscuously and outlandishly that one can build in a discount factor—there’s a long track record of unrealized North Korean threats to judge by. In that context, the probability that any given one will be realized is quite small.

The regime has never much liked the annual joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises, and has made its feelings known; the exercises have tended to carry on every year without direct consequences to the personnel involved. Nor has the regime ever welcomed American aircraft carriers in its nearby waters or been shy about saying so; those, too, have come and gone unmolested.

What’s different now is Donald Trump. Whereas many of his predecessors steered sedulously clear of escalatory rhetoric, preferring to treat various North Korean leaders as recalcitrant children at worst or distasteful but nevertheless semi-rational negotiating partners at best, Trump has threatened North Korea via Twitter, declaring that the regime is “looking for trouble.” As my colleague Uri Friedman pointed out Thursday, three successive presidents prior to Trump, since the Clinton administration considered military action against the North’s then-nascent nuclear program, have opted for trying negotiations rather than risk a strike. It’s apparent that none succeeded in halting the nuclear program’s progress. But it’s equally apparent that the kind of massive conflagration on the Korean peninsula that world leaders are now warning against has been avoided since 1953.

We hope 1953 – present realities continue to hold during the unpredictable Trumpian years.

More beneath the fold.

GOP Congressman Mike Coffman Says Spicer Needs To Go…

Republican Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado has openly called for Sean Spicer to go following his comments about Adolph Hitler. It is good to see that apparently still exists some republicans with principles. We realize this is only one isolated incident, but, nevertheless credit need be given when credit is due.

Aurora, Colorado (CNN) – White House press secretary Sean Spicer “needs to go” in the fallout of his comments about Adolf Hitler, Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado said Wednesday night. In doing so, Coffman appeared to become the first Republican member of Congress to publicly call for Spicer’s ouster.

Coffman, a moderate representing a swing district in and around Aurora, was asked at a town hall about Spicer’s remarks this week that even Hitler didn’t “sink to using chemical weapons” during the Holocaust. He made the remarks while discussing Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and a recent chemical attack that killed dozens in the country.

The pointed question to Coffman came from a woman who said her great-grandparents died in Auschwitz.
“What is your thoughts at this time of a president who has anti-Semetic people in his Cabinet?” she asked. She wanted Coffman’s reaction to the fact that Spicer made reference to a “Holocaust center” and suggested that “Hitler didn’t use gas on his own people.”
“I need to hear from my congressman that these things are unacceptable,” the woman said.
“Spicer made a terrible mistake yesterday. If you’re not familiar with what he did is that he…” Coffman began to say, but the audience made clear that it didn’t want to hear excuses.
Throwing up his hands, Coffman said: “He needs to go.”
Spicer has repeatedly apologized for his comments, calling them “inexcusable and reprehensible.”

Spicer should go. Hopefully Trump is paying attention and speeding up his learning curve. That’s assuming of course Trump actually thinks he can and needs to learn.

Spicer Goes Contrite…

Trump’s White House Press Secretary is feeling sorry for himself in the aftermath of  his inaccurate and politically motivated comparison of Hitler and Assad. A comment meant to make Hitler out to be less horrific and inhuman than Assad. Spicer made the statement as one justification for Trump’s decision to strike the Syrian military base .  A blundering idiotic statement that has resulted in a call for Spicer’s resignation or firing by Trump.

Video here.

A repentant Sean Spicer admitted Wednesday he “let the president down” when he claimed that Adolf Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons — ignoring the use of gas chambers to try and exterminate the Jewish people in a badly drawn comparison toSyrian President Bashar Assad.

“It’s painful to myself to know I did something like that,” an unusually subdued Spicer said during a live interview onstage at the Newseum in Washington with MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren.

A repentant Sean Spicer admitted Wednesday he “let the president down” when he claimed that Adolf Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons — ignoring the use of gas chambers to try and exterminate the Jewish people in a badly drawn comparison toSyrian President Bashar Assad.

“It’s painful to myself to know I did something like that,” an unusually subdued Spicer said during a live interview onstage at the Newseum in Washington with MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren.

Spicer is actively working damage control, both for himself and his president. An activity that regrettably will likely deliver the results he desires. It shouldn’t.

Full story BENEATH THE FOLD.

Trump As CIC…

Donald Trump, greatly in need of shoring up his badly sagging poll numbers, has decided to pursue the oft traveled path of irrational nationalism, aggressive show of strength. He just bombed a Syrian air base (doing marginal damage as it was back operating in less than 24 hours), and now he is sending an American strike force to the Korean Peninsula.  His next move? Perhaps bombing targeted sites in North Korea.

It is becoming increasingly evident that Trump is an impulsive and dangerous man. He either is dangerously naïve or he simply thinks like a person born during the early to mid 20th century. Rather than respecting the sovereignty of nations Trump, like many of his predecessors, desires to judge solely based on western values and then dictate his expectations for their compliance. Failure to acquiesce presumably brings crushing military action that results in the USA left in the position of being able to dictate its desires, without further resistance. In other words force the interests of this nation upon another.

Our founders understood the dangers of becoming involved in foreign conflicts. Former United States Congressman Ron Paul sums it up quite aptly:

The Founding Fathers saw it otherwise. Jefferson summed up the noninterventionist foreign policy position perfectly in his 1801 inaugural address: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations – entangling alliances with none.” How many times have we all heard these wise words without taking them to heart? How many champion Jefferson and the Constitution, but conveniently ignore both when it comes to American foreign policy? Washington similarly urged that the US must “Act for ourselves and not for others,” by forming an “American character wholly free of foreign attachments.” Since so many on Capitol Hill apparently now believe Washington was wrong, they should at least have the intellectual honesty to admit it next time his name is being celebrated.

The point here is, isn’t it time we start to allow other sovereign nations to determine there own interests and the form of governance they wish or willing to accept? Putting it as straight forward as possible the governing principle for the United States ought to be, the only justification for the use of force is in response to an act of aggression against our nation and its people. Clearly the military action taken against Syria falls far short of this principle.

Perhaps what is most confusing is the 180 degree reversal that Trump made last week regarding Syria and military action. Note also his views on Iraq and the removal of Saddam in 2003, interesting.

 

What we have is a POTUS with few if any core values. Given Trump’s impulsive and emotionally driven response to events he is a very dangerous man. One with the ability and power to be the spark to ignite WW III.

On a slightly different but somewhat related situation:

A U.S. Navy strike group will be moving toward the western Pacific Ocean near the Korean peninsula as a show of force, a U.S. official told Reuters on Saturday, as concerns grow about North Korea’s advancing weapons program.

Earlier this month North Korea tested a liquid-fueled Scud missile which only traveled a fraction of its range.

The strike group, called Carl Vinson, includes an aircraft carrier and will make its way from Singapore toward the Korean peninsula, according to the official, who was not authorized to speak to the media and requested anonymity.

“We feel the increased presence is necessary,” the official said, citing North Korea’s worrisome behavior.

The news was first reported by Reuters.

In a statement late Saturday, the U.S. Navy’s Third Fleet said the strike group had been directed to sail north, but it did not specify the destination. The military vessels will operate in the Western Pacific rather than making previously planned port visits to Australia, it added.

This year North Korean officials, including leader Kim Jong Un, have repeatedly indicated an intercontinental ballistic missile test or something similar could be coming, possibly as soon as April 15, the 105th birthday of North Korea’s founding president and celebrated annually as “the Day of the Sun.”

Earlier this week U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Florida, where Trump pressed his counterpart to do more to curb North Korea’s nuclear program.

Trump’s national security aides have completed a review of U.S. options to try to curb North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. These include economic and military measures but lean more toward sanctions and increased pressure on Beijing to rein in its reclusive neighbor.

Although the option of pre-emptive military strikes on North Korea is not off the table, the review prioritizes less-risky steps and de-emphasizes direct military action.  (Full story BELOW THE FOLD)