Tag Archives: Kim Jong Un

POTUS needs to be calming influence, not the inflamer

Donald John Trump Sr. has been all the rage since taking office as president of the United States.

That’s by his own design, no doubt. Today, for instance, the TV talk show pundit class was talking about Trump and his bellowing bellicosity regarding the North Koreans and their nuclear ambitions.

I heard many of the pundits say essentially the same thing: The president should be the voice of calm, reason and wisdom. It’s the president who should settle a nation’s nerves. He should be the comforter in chief.

Not this guy. Not the current president.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to tell North Korean officials they need not worry about “regime change.” We aren’t interested in tossing out Kim Jong Un, Tillerson said.  National security adviser H.R. McMaster said he doesn’t believe we are closer to war today than we were a month ago, apparently seeking to calm a jittery nation that might believe we’re on the verge of launching a nuclear strike against the reclusive communist state.

But what does the president do? How does he handle all this? He talks about “fire and fury,” about how our military is “locked and loaded.” He warns Kim not to issue any “overt threats” or else he’s going to pay bigly and he’ll feel the pain of our response “very soon.”

President Truman removed General of the Army Douglas MacArthur from his command in Korea to reassert civilian control over the military; President Eisenhower resisted sending combat troops to Vietnam out of concern of getting involved in a quagmire; President Kennedy resisted invading Cuba during the missile crisis.

Part of the president’s unwritten job description is to be the voice of calm assurance. Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama all filled that role at various times during their time at the helm.

Donald Trump should take heed of the lessons offered by all his recent predecessors.

It’s sad to admit, though, that he likely won’t.

What does Kim Jong Un want? Part 5

This concludes my brief examination of the five demands that Kim Jong Un  has made on a world seeking to lessen tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

USA Today has listed five of them. Kim wants the United Nations to lift the sanctions it has imposed on North Korea. Good luck with that one, Mr. Dictator/Goofball.

The only way the sanctions could go away would be if Kim agrees with U.N. and U.S. demands that he cease making nuclear weapons and cease testing the missiles he hopes would deliver them.

Kim has brought a lot of misery to his people by spending so much of his nation’s Gross Domestic Product on militarization. North Korea is bristling with artillery pieces, tanks, fighter jets — but its people are starving. The sanctions imposed by the U.N. ban the export of coal, iron ore, lead and lead ore, depriving the nation of about $1 billion annually.

There needs to be concessions by North Korea for the sanctions to be lightened, or eliminated.

All of this circles back, in my view, to the issue of “containment and deterrence.” If the United States and the rest of the world would accept the notion that Kim is going to keep his nukes and then rely on the threat of immense destruction that would be delivered to his country if he launches any kind of strike, then this crisis might be allowed to settle down.

I have little faith that anyone — whether inside the North Korean government hierarchy or anywhere else — will be able to talk sense to Kim.

Now, if we could just get the president of the United States to keep his trap shut and let the diplomats do their work.

What does Kim Jong Un want? Part 4

The United States of America has followed a nuclear policy that, so far, has worked pretty well.

Call it a policy of “containment and deterrence.”

Thus, is it possible for the United States to get North Korea to toss its budding nuclear stockpile into the crapper? Hardly.

Which brings me to one of Kim Jong Un’s demands: He wants to keep his nuclear arsenal. USA Today’s list of five demands contains this one, which might be central to the current tensions that have escalated between the United States and North Korea.

Check it out here.

You’ve heard of “mutually assured destruction,” aka MAD. It kept the United States and the Soviet Union from nuking each other during the Cold War. The world is full of trouble spots occupied by nuclear-powered nations: India and Pakistan; Israel has them, too; South Africa has been thought to possess nuclear weapons.

Yes, we negotiated an agreement designed to rid Iran of its nuclear weapon capability and the jury is still out on whether that will work ultimately.

North Korea presents a tremendously different situation for us. Donald Trump is blustering, bellowing and bloviating about what he intends to do if Kim’s regime keeps making “overt threats” against the United States and our allies. A “threat” doesn’t constitute military action, so the president is treading on some highly dangerous ground if he intends to hit the North Korean’s first.

My advice to the president — which he won’t ever see, let alone heed — would be to dial back the fiery and furious rhetoric and possibly accept the notion that North Koreans are going to do what they intend to do, no matter how many threats we level against them.

However, the commander in chief can make it known — through back channels — what Kim knows already: Don’t even think about using those nukes.

What does Kim Jong Un want? Part 3

Kim Jong Un has a list of demands he is laying at the feet of the U.S. president.

Most of them seem to present intractable circumstances for Donald J. Trump to ponder.

Such as this one: Removal of all U.S. troops from South Korea.

It’s not going to happen, Mr. North Korean Dictator. It won’t happen at least until North and South Korea sign a peace treaty that comes with ironclad assurances that North Korea won’t ever — ever! — attack South Korea. The agreement also needs to include a denuclearization component, meaning that Kim needs to dismantle and abandon his ambitions to become a nuclear power.

Our troops commitment to South Korea was purchased with lots of blood. The Korean War’s hostilities ended in 1953 after more than 50,000 American personnel were killed in action. We came to South Korea’s defense after North Korea invaded its neighbors three years earlier. Indeed, Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, sent the troops south. So, that means the current North Korean dictator bears a bit of personal responsibility for what transpired, given that he is kin to the man who launched the aggression in the first place.

The ceasefire that both sides signed in 1953 included a commitment from the United States to defend South Korea against the North, given that the two Koreas are technically still in a state of war; no peace treaty means they cannot put their guards down.

There are roughly 28,000 U.S. troops in South Korea. That’s just part of the defense network. We have heavily armed naval vessels throughout the region and immense air power assets in places such as Guam and Japan — not to mention in South Korea.

Should we give all that up without a serious commitment to peace from North Korea?

The boy with the bad haircut — that would be Kim — surely knows we cannot do anything of the sort.

Nuclear threat a boost to tourism? Who knew?

You’re the governor of a remote U.S. territory. The crackpot dictator of a highly militarized regime then threatens to strike your home. The president of the United States calls ostensibly to offer you support.

Then you hear the president say something about how a possible nuclear missile attack could “boost tourism” on your island.

Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo fielded a call from Donald Trump.

Here’s how the New York Times reported a portion of the call: Mr. Trump said: “I have to tell you, you have become extremely famous all over the world. They are talking about Guam; and they’re talking about you.” And when it comes to tourism, he added, “I can say this: “You’re going to go up, like, tenfold with the expenditure of no money.”

I can’t stop laughing. The president is just killin’ it, don’t you think?

The president did say “we are with you 1,000 percent.” I hope that gives the governor some comfort. To be fair, Gov. Calvo didn’t seem disturbed by the seemingly flippant tone of the president’s call.

But really, Mr. President? Tourism is on your mind as you and Kim Jong Un continue to rattle the world with your reckless threats against each other?

What does Kim Jong Un want? Part 2

Donald J. Trump has complicated what ought to be the simplest of Kim Jong Un’s reported demands of the United States of America.

He wants guarantees that he can keep his job as North Korea’s strongman. 

In other words, no “regime change.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sounded semi-conciliatory in that regard the other day when he said that United States has no interest in overthrowing Kim and seeks a “diplomatic solution” to the growing crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

Then the president chimed in with comments threatening “fire and fury” and saying that U.S. military is “locked and loaded” in case Kim decides to make any “overt threats” against the United States or its allies.

The term “locked and loaded” means, in military terms, that your weapon is loaded and that you’ve put the first round in the chamber. You’re set to fire said weapon. Is that what the commander in chief meant? Are we now set to launch a first strike against the North Koreans?

Kim is thought to be mindful of past U.S. military actions, providing him with cause to make the demand that he not be tossed out by an invading force.

I present you the March 2013 U.S. invasion of Iraq , which was launched for the expressed purpose of ridding Iraq of its own dictator, the late Saddam Hussein.

President George W. Bush and his national security team told us Saddam had “weapons of mass destruction,” which became the primary selling point for launching the invasion. Our military launched a full frontal assault. It got to Baghdad. We scoured the country from stem to stern looking for WMD. We found none. Nothin’, man.

Oh, we eventually pulled Saddam out of that spider hole. The Iraqis put him on trial, convicted him of crimes against humanity — and hanged him.

Kim doesn’t want that to happen to himself or his closest sycophants.

The secretary of state is trying to sound a reasoned, rational tone. The president, though, keeps pre-empting him with talk of an entirely different nature. What’s more, the secretary of state does serve at the pleasure of the president.

Tillerson gets tossed under the bus … but why?

Rex Tillerson deserves a good word for sounding like a serious adult.

The U.S. secretary of state has declared that Americans should “sleep well at night,” even in the wake of the bellicosity coming from the North Korean dictator and the president of the United States.

What does he get from a member of Donald Trump’s national security team? Sebastian Gorka, a key member of the National Security Council, said that Tillerson is a diplomat and has no authority to talk about military matters.

There you go. A key NSC adviser tosses Tillerson under the bus. For what reason? For suggesting that the North Koreans aren’t about to launch missiles at the United States or that the United States is about to go to war with the rogue regime.

I tend to think of Tillerson as one of the grownups with whom the president has surrounded himself.

Gorka, on the other hand, provides another bullying voice for the president, as if Donald Trump needs any assistance in rattling nerves around the world. The president has done plenty of that all by himself with his “fire and fury” and “locked and loaded” rhetoric.

As for Tillerson, I’m going to presume he’s opened all the back channels he can find between Washington and Pyongyang. Perhaps he’s able to pass along to some North Korean functionary about the grave danger that can result from a foolish act of aggression.

‘Locked and loaded’ to release ‘fire and fury’

The alliteration might sound good as it rolls off the tongue or typed into a tweet.

“Fire and fury” has given way to “locked and loaded.” Is it realistic? Or logical? Does it further the cause of peace?

I want to consider for a brief moment something about this confrontation between the United States and North Korea. It is the rhetoric that flies out of the pie hole of Kim Jong Un, the boy with the bad haircut who runs North Korea.

Kim sounds like the two previous Kims who ruled the nation before he inherited the regime. His father and grandfather both said much the same thing about how they would destroy South Korea, Japan, the United States or any nation that “interfered” with the “internal” politics of the Korean Peninsula.

One key difference, though, is that the current Kim reportedly can deliver a nuclear weapon aboard a missile to faraway targets.

But has he acted on his threats? Daddy Kim blustered and bellowed until his death. Grandpa Kim did invade South Korea in 1950, precipitating the Korean War; the shooting lasted until 1953 with the signing of a ceasefire, but there has not yet been a peace treaty signed that officially ends the state of war between South and North Korea.

The more serious change in the rhetorical barrage, of course, comes from our side. The U.S. president has decided to fire back with tweets and assorted public pronouncements about how he intends to release “fire and fury” on Pyongyang if that government keeps threatening the United States. Donald Trump now has said that the U.S. military is “locked and loaded” in the event the commies do anything foolish.

The president’s bellicosity does not make me feel safer. It gives me little comfort. It doesn’t provide any assurance that the current Kim is going to work overtime to find restraint in his own bizarre impulses.

Diplomatic decorum would dictate that the president — the commander in chief of the world’s mightiest military — remain calm, reasoned and rational. Kim knows the United States can obliterate his country. Is he going to doom his people — and himself — to certain death now that he allegedly has the capability to launch a nuclear weapon at the United States of America?

I don’t know. I do know that he hasn’t delivered on any of the threats he has made already. As for the man he is staring in the face, Donald Trump, he doesn’t need to boast in front of the whole world about being “locked and loaded.”

We get the point, Mr. President. We’re the biggest, baddest dudes on the block. I’m quite sure Kim Jong Un knows it, too.

Doubling down on ‘fire and fury’? What the … ?

Donald J. Trump says his “fire and fury” riff the other day didn’t go far enough.

If he had to do it over, the president said he would have spoken even more aggressively against the North Korean regime.

What? Eh? Are you serious, Mr. President?

Trump is vacationing in New Jersey. This past week, he held a “media opportunity” in which he declared that if North Korean dictator/goofball Kim Jong Un kept up with the “threats” against the United States, he would be met with “fire and fury the likes of which the world has never known.”

Trump improvised that comment. It’s been seen throughout the political world in this country and abroad as an unnecessary provocation. The North Koreans responded by offering a specific threat to launch a nuclear-armed missile at Guam, the U.S. island territory within range of a missile launched by North Korea.

Why Guam? It’s home to a significant military presence. The North Koreans surely understand what would occur if they were to launch a missile. In case they don’t, I’ll explain right here: They would be wiped off the face of the planet.

Do they want that? The obvious answer would be a resounding no.

I believe the obvious answer would be a resounding no.

Why, then, does the president of the United States insist on ratcheting up the rhetoric against North Korea?

The world is a jittery place right now. We can “thank” the president of the United States for adding to our worldwide fear.

‘Power like the world has never seen’?

Donald J. Trump has issued the sternest of statements to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. It’s full of bluster and a bit of bravado.

It’s also frightening in the extreme — to our side as well as to the North Koreans!

The communist regime reportedly now is able to place a nuclear weapon aboard an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the United States. That’s a line that the president cannot tolerate.

So, while vacationing in New Jersey, Trump issued a direct threat to North Korea, saying that the United States is prepared to unleash “fire and fury” and a “power like the world has never seen.”

Let’s hold on. The United States once did unleash “fire and fury” on an enemy combatant state. It occurred on Aug. 6 and again on Aug. 9, 1945. We dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. World War II was drawing to a conclusion and President Truman decided he needed to deploy those weapons to persuade the Japanese that continued fighting would be futile.

Truman learned of the Hiroshima bombing while returning from the Potsdam Conference.

The strategy worked. Japan surrendered just days after Nagasaki was incinerated.

If Donald J. Trump is proposing measures that would eclipse those twin events in August 1945, then we are truly embarking down the most dangerous path anyone ever imagined.