Tag Archives: South Korea

Don’t push ‘Mad Dog’ out the door

There’s been some reporting over the past 24 hours about Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis and whether the president is looking past the serious grownup he has among his closest Cabinet officials.

Donald Trump announced the ending of “war games” with South Korean armed forces; he declared the United States was nixing the Iran nuclear deal; the president also announced his desire to form a sixth military branch, which he has called a “space force.”

These initiatives all have something in common. The president announced all of them without consulting Secretary Mattis.

Is this the beginning of the end of Mad Dog’s tenure as head of the Pentagon? Oh, man, I hope it ain’t so.

Of all the individuals Trump has selected for the Cabinet, Mattis is the one who — in my mind — has acted like the grownup. He is a serious-minded retired four-star U.S. Marine Corps general. His combat experience makes him a level-headed deterrent to the chicken hawks — such as national security adviser John Bolton — who seem all too eager to send U.S. forces into harm’s way.

When the president tweeted his decision to ban transgender Americans from enlisting in the armed forces, Mattis held the line, saying that he wouldn’t do a thing to change military policy without it going through the proper administrative channels.

Salon.com reports: The president often leaves Mattis “out of the loop” and “doesn’t listen to him,” according to NBC News, undermining this vital role in national security. Trump allegedly believes that Mattis “looks down on him” and “slow walks his policy directives,” sources told the outlet.

Mattis might “look down” on Trump? Really? So what if he does?

I can understand why Mattis, who has served his country with honor and distinction, might take a dim view of Donald Trump’s world view and his utter lack of understanding of what public service is supposed to mean.

For someone who supposedly has a soft spot in his heart for the generals with whom he has surrounded himself, Trump well might be doing all he can to get his premier Cabinet appointment to hit the road.

If that happens, the nation will be the poorer for it.

Did POTUS give away the store to Kim?

Honest to goodness, I want to give Donald Trump props for meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and possibly start laying down the building blocks for a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

However, I gave some thought en route from Amarillo to Fairview about what transpired this week.

I am wondering plenty at this moment about what the president has given away.

  • Donald Trump has called this killer, despot and tyrant an “honorable” man. He has said his people “love” him. The president who once called Kim “Little Rocket Man” has now become his newest BFF.
  • Then he decided to end joint military exercises with South Korea. Did the president consult with, oh, South Korea? Or with his own defense secretary, James “Mad Dog” Mattis? Or the Joint Chiefs of Staff? Oh, no. Trump did it on his own. Hey, he’s commander in chief, so I guess he is entitled to do whatever the hell he wants. How do you suppose Kim Jong Un responded to that idea? He well might have jumped straight into the air, high-fiving his top aides; he got what he has demanded all along!
  • And did the president raise any issue about human rights, which do not exist in North Korea? Kim is starving his people. He is imprisoning them for no good reason. He orders the deaths of foes. Kim’s goons capture tourist and charge them with bogus allegations. Did the negotiator in chief bring any of this up with Little Rocket Man? I do not believe he did.

So, where do we stand?

Trump and Kim have signed a vague two-page letter committing to negotiate an end to nuclear weapons in North Korea. No promise that the North Koreans will actually get rid of them, just a vow to talk about it.

I’m still hoping to cheer the president. I still want him to succeed for the benefit of the country. I still await some sign that Donald Trump knows what he is doing.

I am afraid I must withhold the cheers.

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.

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.

Nobel for Trump? Not … just … yet!

They’re chanting “No-bel! No-bel! No-bel!” at a political rally in Michigan, where the president of the United States is staging a campaign rally.

Why the chant? Well, the crowd of Trumpkins thinks Donald Trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize because North and South Korea’s leaders shook hands at the DMZ and promised to pledged to sign a peace treaty that ends the Korean War, where the shooting stopped in 1953.

My response? Hold the phone! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

If North Korean President Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in sign that peace treaty, if Kim Jong Un disassembles nuclear weapons, and if there is a demonstrable lessening of tension on the Korean Peninsula, then let’s consider whether the president deserves the Peace Prize.

Nothing of substance has happened. There might be nothing that will happen. The planned Kim meeting with Donald Trump still hasn’t occurred. Trump has said if it is “not fruitful,” he would walk away from the meeting with Kim.

How would that look to the Nobel committee that awards these prizes? Not well, if you ask me.

If North and South Korea strike a peace deal, if the North de-nukes the peninsula and if Kim and Trump strike a long-term agreement that leads to normalization of relations between the U.S. and the reclusive Marxist regime …

By all means, consider the president as a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. But not before.

Oh, and one more thing. If by chance Donald Trump actually is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the entire world will never hear the end of it.

Never!

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!

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?

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.