Tag Archives: Kim Jong Un

‘Only one thing will work’? Really?

Donald J. Trump sounds like a man intent on leading the United States of America to war.

At any cost.

The tweeter in chief blasted out yet another warning to North Korea today, suggesting that 25 years of negotiation with the communist dictatorship has been so futile, so fraught with frustration that there’s no other diplomatic channel left to explore.

He tweeted this: Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid…… …hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, makings fools of U.S. negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!

There you have it. The president of the United States, the commander in chief of the world’s most powerful military machine has all but said that there’s no more talking to be done.

“Only one thing will work!” he said. One thing. What do you suppose that might be?

Let’s presume he means the “military option.” What happens when we strike North Korea’s missile launchers, but don’t get all of them? What happens when we hit their thousands of artillery pieces lined up and aimed straight at Seoul, South Korea — but don’t get them all? Does North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un make good on his threat to strike? Gosh, I would think he would do precisely that.

Then comes the consequence. Many thousands of deaths. Perhaps millions. Many of them will be civilians. And yes, we’ve got those 28,000 American troops sitting right in the middle of it all, along with tens of thousands more American civilians.

We are witnessing first hand the dangers of conducting foreign policy by Twitter. The president of the United States needs to weigh his words carefully, no matter how he delivers his message.

Then again, a president cast from the same mold of others would understand that. Not this guy, Donald Trump. He “tells it like it is.”

I believe Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s widely reported description of the president as a “moron” is looking more accurate with each passing day.

Declaration of war? Not even close, Mr. Foreign Minister

A statement by North Korea’s foreign minister might have gotten muddled in the translation, but I feel the need to set the record straight for this fellow.

Ri Yong Ho has accused Donald J. Trump of “declaring war” on North Korea with his threats of using military force if the North Koreans continue to threaten the United States and our allies.

According to Reuters: “The whole world should clearly remember it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country,” Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters in New York.

Let’s step back here.

I believe Ri needs a quickie lesson on U.S. government civics.

The president of the United States cannot “declare war” on anyone. A declaration of war in this country is a multi-step process, Mr. Foreign Minister — which is something that is alien to you and your dictator/despot Kim Jong Un.

The president prepares a declaration document, which he then presents to our Congress. He then requests the legislative branch of government to issue a declaration. The last time we did that was on Dec. 8, 1941, the day after Japan attacked our naval and Army air forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Congress voted virtually unanimously to declare war; by the way, U.S. Rep. Jeannette Rankin of Montana voted “no,” just as she had done when Congress declared war against Germany during World War I. Foreign Minister Ri also should know that Rep. Rankin wasn’t jailed — either time — for her principled votes.

Do I agree with Donald Trump’s bluster and bellicosity with regard to North Korea? No. He’s risking — with his taunts and childish name-calling — the potential for provoking Kim into doing something stupid in the extreme.

But he didn’t “declare war.” That’s not how we do it in this country. Our founders established a system that limited the president’s power to issue such a declaration. He’s got to ask for it from the legislative branch of government.

There. Lesson over.

Imagine JFK calling Khruschev ‘Rocket Man’

It’s The Donald vs. Rocket Man.

Two heads of state — Donald John Trump and Kim Jong Un — are locked now in a standoff. The president of the United States and the dictator of North Korea are trying to out-insult each other.

What continues to amaze me, though, is that Trump decided to elevate his Rocket Man poke at Kim in a highly unusual venue. He took his insult to the floor of the United (bleeping) Nations, man!

He said if Rocket Man continues to threaten the United States, this country would “totally destroy” North Korea. That’s the way you promote peace, Mr. President … by threatening to annihilate another nation.

I’m trying to imagine an earlier president, John F. Kennedy, using that kind of language during the height of the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962. I actually have a memory of that time, when the Soviet Union began building launch pads from which it could launch missiles at the United States or our Western Hemisphere allies. It scared the bejabbers out of me — and millions of other Americans, too!

Kennedy didn’t resort to name-calling, or attaching silly school-kid epithets to his references to Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader. He actually left much of the bluster to our U.N. ambassador at the time, Adlai Stevenson.

The president’s use of a Rocket Man insult won’t get Kim to do what we want, which is to stand down in his attempt to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting us and our allies.

An earlier president, faced with an even graver threat, arguably, than the one confronting the current president, stared it down with steely resolve, which — according to commentary at the time — forced the other guy to blink.

President Kennedy didn’t need to insult his adversary.

Trump goes to the U.N. and all but declares war

Donald J. Trump did it.

He went to the United Nations, an international body with a mission that aims to seek peaceful resolutions to world problems, and declared this:

“Now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life … The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself.”

It was the U.S. president’s premiere visit to the U.N. He stood at the podium in front of the world’s leaders and diplomats and all but declared war on North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Trump turns up the volume on Kim.

Do you feel safer now? Do you feel as though Kim is going to back off his threats? Is he going to dismantle his budding nuclear arsenal based on what he heard the president of the United States say to — and about — him?

Let me think about that. Uh, no, no and … no.

Rocket Man? Are you serious? That’s what the president called Kim at the U.N. It’s a nickname that was born in a Trump tweet just the other day. The president took that juvenile name-calling to the world’s greatest international deliberative body. Well done, Mr. President … not!

I know the U.N. has its critics. Much of the criticism is deserved. It has many times over the years scolded the wrong nations and embraced others. As the president noted correctly this morning, the U.N. has placed nations with abysmal human rights records on its human rights councils.

The international body’s primary mission, though, is to promote peaceful resolutions to international crises. To hear the president of the United States threaten a member U.N. nation with “total destruction” is chilling in the extreme.

Military options? They’re quite limited, Mme. Ambassador

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley thinks our country’s options regarding North Korea’s continual belligerence include using our immense military power.

I, uh, beg to differ with the distinguished diplomat.

The North Koreans keep launching missiles to demonstrate their own military capability. They fire them over Japan, which has caused the Japanese to rethink their own military posture, which has been limited since the end of World War II.

If Haley is suggesting that the United States launch a first strike against North Korea, then I believe she is talking about an eminently dangerous and frightening outcome.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster insists the United States is still seeking a diplomatic solution. Do you think that would be far preferable a solution than to hit the North Koreans with some kind of tactical strike aimed at destroying its missile launchers or its nuclear weapons production plants? Uhh, yeah. I do!

‘Fire and fury.’

Let’s try to get into North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s skull for just a moment. Does the boy with the bad haircut really and truly believe he can survive any kind of frontal military assault from the world’s most powerful nation? Is he suicidal? I cannot pretend to know what is driving this clown’s nuclear ambition. However, I just cannot believe he intends to use his weapons against South Korea, or Japan or certainly against the United States of America.

The economic sanctions we have applied against North Korea are working. They’re strangling the reclusive country.

As for Ambassador Haley continuing to talk the talk about keeping the military option alive, I believe Kim has received the message, which is that we can blow him and his country to Kingdome Come.

Trump’s now going after South Koreans? What … ?

I must have missed something.

South Korea has been arguably our staunchest ally in East Asia since, oh, the Korean War of 1950-53. We fought side by side with the South Koreans against North Korea and later, the People’s Republic of China.

Now the North has nuclear bombs. It is threatening to use them against South Korea. The United States is supposed to stand ready to defend the South against the North.

So, why is Donald J. Trump browbeating South Korea into doing more to deter North Korea from threatening to toss the rest of the world into a nuclear war?

South Korean leaders say they want to “talk” with their neighbors in the North. The U.S. president is having none of it. He has taken to Twitter to suggest that South Korea is run by a government of “appeasers.”

Appeasers? Are you kidding me?

No country on Earth is feeling more nervous about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s crazy threats than South Korea. That’s not good enough for Trump, who’s also now threatening to terminate a U.S.-South Korea trade agreement.

Uh, Mr. President, these guys are on our side. They’ve got more to lose in a military confrontation with North Korea than anyone.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in got elected this year promising to “talk” to North Korea. He fired back at Trump, saying that South Korea “cannot tolerate another catastrophic war on this peninsula.”

Do you think?

Why in the world cannot the president of the United States treat the South Koreans like the valuable ally they’ve been — and need to continue to be as we try to work our way through this crisis with the North?

Talk of “appeasers” and threats to cut off trade won’t do the job.

‘Threat’ would bring a huge U.S. response?

Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis needs to define “threat” in the context of North Korea.

The defense boss is sounding a bit more bellicose lately, saying that any North Korea “threat” against the United States or our allies could result in a “massive military response” that would annihilate the communist nation.

Is the defense secretary talking now about a first strike? Are we considering hitting the North Koreans before they strike the first blow?

I am uncertain why “threats” by themselves would constitute a reason to launch a bloody war against a nation with more than 1 million men in arms, a massive amount of artillery and armor — and, yes, a small but growing cache of nuclear bombs.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un issues threat almost daily. He keeps saying he’s going to do this and/or that to South Korea. He reportedly has threatened to attack Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific Ocean.

According to The Hill “Any threat to the United States or its territories including Guam or our allies will be met with a massive military response,” Mattis said in a statement outside of the White House after meeting with President Trump. 

“Kim Jong Un should take heed the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice. All members unanimously agreed on the threat North Korea poses. And they remain unanimous in their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Because we are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely, North Korea,” he continued. 

OK. We all get it. The United States is the most lethal military power on the planet. We know it. Kim knows it. The Russians and Chinese know it.

I keep wondering if this constant goading of Kim by itself is deterring him from committing a profoundly foolish act. We’ve established to the world that we mean business.

Now, let’s get back to seeking some sort of diplomatic solution.

Shall we? Hmmm?

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.