Tag Archives: Korean War

Again, it’s worth asking: Why suck up to this brute?

Donald John Trump continues to confound reasonable human beings with his ridiculous — yes, worthy of ridicule — notion that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is worthy of any praise at all.

The president went over the top, around the bend and through the wall with his suggestion that Kim Jong Un is a “strong leader.”

Mr. President, your newest BFF is far more than that. He is a brute. He is a killer. He is a murderous tyrant with whom the United States is seeking to do business.

The president’s quicky summit in Singapore this past week with Kim produced a few vague promises. I was initially hopeful that it might lead to a productive conclusion — a Korean War peace treaty and the eventual de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. You can now put me in the camp of the doubters.

We demanded next to nothing of Kim Jong Un, who in return got a promise from Trump that U.S.-South Korean “war games” would end. Why? Because they are “provocative.” Good grief, dude! What’s more, he issued the order without consulting with South Korean military leaders — or even his own Joint Chiefs of Staff!

Instead, we are hearing some weird commentary from the president of the United States about how Kim Jong Un commands the “love” of his people and how he “loves” them in return.

There is no love being shown officially north of the 38th Parallel, Mr. President. Instead, we are seeing fear, terror and abject brutality that many observers say is the worst of any experienced anywhere on Earth.

Kim Jong Un has merely continued the regimen of horror began by his grandfather and continued by his father, from whom he inherited his role of Dear Leader upon Kim Jong Il’s death.

Kim Jong Un has ordered the deaths of members of his own family!

This is the guy upon whom the president is heaping praise.

Sickening.

Trump tosses truth into the crapper

Donald John “Liar in Chief” Trump’s disdain for the truth has taken an amazing new turn — if that is possible.

He came out of his summit with North Korean dictator/despot Kim Jong Un and declared how “thousands” of parents of missing Korean War veterans begged him to get their remains returned to the United States for proper burial.

The president then said it again today in an extraordinary — and bizarre — media “availability” at the White House.

Let’s back it up a bit, shall we?

The Korean War ceasefire took effect in 1953. That was 65 years ago. A warrior who was lost at the very end of the Korean War might be, oh, 83 to 85 years of age today, if not older. His parents? Let’s see, they would be at minimum 100 years of age, presuming Mom gave birth to her son when she was around 18 years old.

The likelihood is that these parents of missing Korean War vets who begged Donald Trump to do something about their sons’  remains would be much older. Maybe about 120 years of age.

Thus, for the president to say that “thousands” of these parents came to the presidential candidate — who then became president — to seek the return of their remains is an … outright, bald-faced lie.

He is lying in a manner few of us have ever seen in a public official, let alone in the president of the United States.

I gave up a while ago griping about Donald Trump’s penchant for tweeting policy statements. I cannot let pass this individual’s continuing to lie directly to the people he was elected to serve.

Tough to overstate significance of these talks

It is damn near impossible to overstate the significance of what the world witnessed a little while ago this evening.

Two men strode toward each other, extended their hands, with one of them grabbing the other man’s arm with his “off hand.”

The men are Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States, and Kim Jong Un, the dictator of North Korea.

What they said to each other in that private meeting — with no staff members present — remains a secret at this moment. We’ll find out likely as the president wings his way back home aboard Air Force One.

But … the meeting, the shaking of hands, the cautious smiles and courtesy between these men is a very big deal in and of themselves.

The United States and North Korea remain in a state of war. The Korean War didn’t “end” when the shooting stopped in 1953; the ceasefire merely ended the killing. There is no peace treaty. There’s no document that declares peace between South and North Korea.

Today’s monumental first step marks the first-ever meeting between the heads of state between the United States and North Korea.

Critics of the U.S.-North Korea summit say it gives legitimacy to a brutal dictator. Those who praise it say it might open the door to that long-awaited peace treaty — and it well might result eventually in a pact that persuades Kim Jong Un to “denuclearize” his arsenal.

His countrymen and women are starving. North Korea remains a desperately poor nation. Yet the dictator has continued to tons of money into a weapons system the country cannot afford.

Have we seen the beginning of a new era? Is there a possibility that the handshakes, the smiles and the apparent good tidings can produce something — anything! — of substance?

Well, a handshake is a start.

Trump-Kim summit back on … for now?

Just when you thought Donald J. Trump had tossed aside a chance to make peace with a decades-long enemy, well, he announced that he now plans to take that chance after all.

The president today announced that his meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is back on. It’s set for June 12 in Singapore.

The president made quite a show of his decision to cancel the meeting after Kim said some angry things about the United States. I thought the summit was a goner. It bummed me out.

It’s back on. Trump had a meeting today at the White House with the No. 2 man in North Korea, Kim Jong Un’s right-hand guy. He delivered a note from Kim. Trump, curiously, then admitted he didn’t read Kim’s letter before agreeing to meet with him later this month.

Eh? Huh? What?

Well, he’s going to fly to Singapore for what he now hints might be the first of a series of meetings with North Korea. The goal is to get Kim to “denuclearize,” meaning to get rid of the nukes in his arsenal. Plus, there might be an actual peace treaty on the table, given that the Korean War shooting ended in 1953 only because of a ceasefire that both sides signed; there is no peace treaty, meaning that North and South Korea — and the United States — are technically in a state of war.

Can we trust Kim Jong Un? No. We cannot. However, can we trust our own president to carry these noble goals across the finish line? Sadly, no on that one, too.

However, let us hope for the best once these two mercurial leaders shake hands and start talking to each other.

It’s ‘Secretary,’ not ‘General’ Mattis, Mr. President

I’ve made this point already, but I feel the need to restate it.

Donald J. Trump once again referred to the secretary of defense as “Gen. Mattis.” Yes, James “Mad Dog” Mattis — one of my favorite Trump Cabinet appointees — is a retired Marine Corps general. He’s got four stars on his epaulets.

But that was then. Today, the here and now, Mad Dog Mattis is a civilian, just like the president is a civilian.

Trump’s reference to “Gen. Mattis” came as he was announcing his decision to sh**can the planned June 12 summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. The president, naturally, followed that reference with a statement that the U.S. military is the strongest in the world and that it is ready to act if the need arises.

Oh, brother, man!

Mr. President, we assign these Cabinet posts to civilians. It’s a time-honored tradition that civilians control the military. President Truman had to remind Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur of that fact when he relieved him of his Korean War command in the early 1950s.

I know it’s a semantics issue. It just bothers the daylights out of me that the commander in chief cannot honor the long-standing tradition of the office with a simple reference to the defense boss as “Secretary” James Mattis.

Get with the program, Mr. President.

What happened to those sweet nothings?

All that sweet talk Donald J. Trump has been heaping on Kim Jong Un of late seems to have gone into one ear and out the other.

The North Korean dictator seems to be putting the planned Trump-Kim summit in some jeopardy because he’s angry over the planned joint military exercises that will take place with South Korean and American troops.

Kim thinks the military maneuvers are meant to prepare for an invasion of North Korea, or so he says. Thus, the summit might not happen if Kim decides to pull the plug on it.

What is happening here?

U.S. and South Korean troops have been practicing for years since the ceasefire ended shooting during the Korean War. We haven’t invaded the North yet. The exercises are meant to prepare the South for a possible invasion from the North; I mean, the North did invade the South in 1950, which caused the Korean War. Kim Jong Un’s grandfather started the fight.

The president of the United States was yammering about “little Rocket Man,” and bragging about the size of his “nuclear button.” He was taunting Kim to try anything at all to provoke a response that would deliver “fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen.”

Donald Trump changed secretaries of state. The new guy at State, Mike Pompeo, went to North Korea in secret and then the nations announced the summit between Trump and Kim.

Suddenly, Kim has become a paragon of virtue in Trump’s mind. He released those three Americans he held captive. Trump hailed Kim Jong Un as a fine man, a wonderful fellow.

Now we have Kim threatening to upset everything all over again.

Don’t tell me the North Korean despot responses positively only to epithets. That cannot possibly be true, can it?

My hope is that Trump holds his fire. If he’s able.

Wishing for success creates emotional conflict

I have made no secret of my loathing, disgust and anger at Donald J. Trump’s election to the presidency of the United States.

I won’t back down from any of those feelings.

That all said, I am torn at this moment. The president is on the verge of scoring a major success that if it comes through will benefit the entire planet, not just the country he leads.

North and South Korea might be on the verge of forging a peace agreement that ends officially the Korean War. Moreover, they might be willing to “de-nuclearize” the Korean Peninsula, which of course means that North Korea could abandon its plans to build a nuclear arsenal.

The Korean War ended in 1953 with a ceasefire. They never signed a peace treaty, which means the Koreas remain in a state of war.

The president is likely to take credit bigly for whatever good comes from a peace treaty and a possible disarming of North Korea.

He’ll deserve credit. All of it? I’ll wait for that one.

I fear that Trump will boast and brag his way past any good feelings that would result. Believe me, his critics — such as yours truly — will be hard-pressed to speak kindly of the president, which means it will take little for us to walk back the good thoughts and public pronouncements that will come his way.

However, when the president succeeds, the nation succeeds. We all should be bigger than our personal dislike, distaste and disgust that Donald Trump is at the center of it.

I’ll hope for the best on the Korean Peninsula.

Why cast aspersions on predecessors?

International statecraft is a nuanced endeavor, but it’s not an entirely complicated matter.

The best practitioners of it look forward and don’t bother looking back, let alone tossing stones at those who came before them in the high office they occupy.

Thus, Donald Trump’s statements today about the pending peace agreement between South and North Korea lacked a sense of nobility one might expect from the president of the United States.

Trump spoke to the media along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He spoke seriously about the handshake and the historic meeting that occurred overnight between North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in. The two men have agreed to strike a peace deal on the Korean Peninsula, ending the official state of war that has existed since the Korean War hostilities ended in 1953.

Then he did that thing that annoys the living daylights out of me. He kept referring to his presidential predecessors’ “mistakes” in dealing with the reclusive North Korean regime.

Holy crap, Mr. President! Enough, already!

I expect fully for Trump take full credit for the deal that awaits the two Koreas. That’s fine. He can take credit if he wishes. But the expected deal came together through a complicated network of international relationships.

I just want the president to look forward from here. Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in have taken a huge step toward a long-sought-after peace agreement. It was forged by the deaths of hundreds of thousands of men — roughly 50,000 of whom were Americans — who fought a war that ended in a stalemate.

There is no need — none at all — for the president to re-litigate how his predecessors sought in vain to achieve the noble goal of peace in Korea.

Peace treaty in Korea? Holy cow!

I awoke this morning to an absolute stunner of an announcement.

Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in — the presidents of North and South Korea, respectively — have agreed to actually end the Korean War.

End the war? Yes. The Korean War never officially ended with a peace treaty. They stopped the shooting in 1953 after an armistice was signed, ending three years of bloody conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

The Koreas has been functioning with a cease-fire in place. The Demilitarized Zone separating the countries is nothing of the kind: it is the most militarized piece of real estate on Earth.

So, where do we go from here?

Kim and Moon signed an agreement to end the war. The treaty signing will occur later this year, according to the document the men signed.

But there’s more. There now appears some serious movement toward discussions relating to the denuclearization of the peninsula. That’s right. Kim Jong Un has agreed, apparently, to enter serious talks to take down his country’s nuclear ambitions.

Now for a big question: Who gets the credit for this seemingly monumental event? I have a strong hunch that the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, is going to claim all the credit for himself. He is likely to tell us his tough talk regarding “Little Rocket Man” has brought Kim to his senses.

Well, the president deserves some credit. He needs to share it with the People’s Republic of China, which quite likely also has persuaded Kim to end this ongoing conflict. North Korea has precisely one dependable ally on Earth. It is the PRC. Does anyone believe that Kim would do anything so significant without China signing off?

I am stunned today to hear the news that came out of Korea.

Let us all say a prayer that Kim Jong Un — who is as mercurial and unpredictable as Donald Trump — remains faithful to the signature he has affixed on a document pledging to end the Korean War.

Sixty-five years after the end of the bloodshed, it’s about time!

Vets are bound together by common experience

I heard an interesting analysis on National Public Radio about the dysfunction that has troubled the U.S. Congress in recent years.

It is that so few members of Congress — House members and senators — are veterans. The analyst noted that today, about 20 percent of congressmen and women are veterans; that total used to be around 70 percent.

Do you see where this is going?

We’re about to celebrate Veterans Day and I thought that observation was worth noting as a way to suggest that military service has contributed to a better-functioning Congress than what we have today.

I think of the World War II veterans who came home from completing their mission to save the world from tyranny. They went about rebuilding their lives. Some of them chose careers in public service. The ran for the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. They won and were thrown together on Capitol Hill.

They forged partnerships and friendships. They had a common bond. Their friendship crossed the partisan divide. Democrats and Republicans all had been to battle. They all had fought a common enemy.

Congressional lore is full of legendary friendships that bridged that partisan divide: Republican Bob Dole and Democrat Daniel Inouye; Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat John F. Kennedy; Republican Barry Goldwater and Democrat George McGovern. These men were political opponents, but they each respected each other. They had earned their mutual respect because of their service in defense of the nation they all loved.

The Vietnam War produced a similar bond among brothers. Republican John McCain and Democrat John Kerry became good friends during their time in the U.S. Senate. They worked together to craft a normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam. Republican Chuck Hagel returned from ‘Nam to serve in the Senate, along with Democrat Bob Kerrey.

The Vietnam War generation, along with the World War II and the Korean War generation, contributed mightily to a government that actually worked.

That kind of camaraderie appears to be missing today. Yes, Congress is sprinkled with vets coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. They, too, belong to both major political parties. I don’t sense that they have yet made their mark on the larger governing body. Perhaps it will come in due course.

The veterans who have served first in the military and then in both chambers of Congress have done demonstrated the value of common experience. It translates into political comity and collegiality … a lot more of which we can use today.