Tag Archives: United Nations

Gen. Kelly needs a poker face

I continue to be a fan of White House chief of staff John Kelly.

He’s seeking to bring some discipline and order to the White House while trying to instruct the Oval Office occupant, Donald J. Trump, on how to act in a manner befitting his exalted title: president of the United States of America.

The former Marine four-star general, though, needs to develop a poker face when he’s forced to watch the president make an ass of himself on the world stage.

There he was at the United Nations this week, listening to the president talk about the “total destruction” of North Korea. Yes, Trump said that while speaking in the forum established in 1945 for the expressed purpose of finding peaceful solutions to international crises.

Gen. Kelly put his hand over his face. The question becomes: Was he mortified at what he was hearing? We don’t know, of course. He won’t say. The White House press operation said Kelly wasn’t reacting to anything in particular.

His reaction was somewhat similar to the body language he “spoke” while listening to the president refer to “both sides” being responsible for the Charlottesville, Va., riot that left a young counter protester dead after she was run over by a man with alleged ties to the white supremacists who provoked the riot in the first place.

Then again, we don’t know what Kelly was thinking at that time, either.

My point is that Kelly would do better for himself if he just sat there stoically without prompting observers all around the world to interpret body language messages.

Absent that kind of self-discipline, we are left to wonder out loud if he’s as disgusted at the boss as many of the rest of us.

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 demonstrates his ‘gift’ at U.N.

Donald John Trump has an extraordinary “gift,” which is all I can think of to call it at this moment.

The president of the United States’ gift enables him to stand before audiences and say the most inappropriate things at the most inopportune times in the most unlikely venues.

For example:

* The day after his inauguration as president, Trump went to the CIA, stood before a wall honoring the agents who’ve fallen in the line of duty and then proclaimed his joy at winning such a “historic” presidential election.

* Earlier this summer, he went to the annual Boy Scout Jamboree and proceeded to excoriate his predecessor, Barack Obama, for this and that and said — incorrectly, I should add — that the former president had never addressed the Jamboree. Trump’s speech prompted the Boy Scouts of America to issue an official statement of apology.

* Then this week, the president stood in the hall at the United Nations — a place founded on the principle of peaceful resolution to international crises — and threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if the communist nation threatens the United States or our allies. Oh, there’s more: He scolded the U.N. member nations for not paying their fair share and opened his speech by boasting about the state of the U.S. economy — during the eight months of his presidency.

The essence of the president’s gift lies in his ability to get away with this nonsense. His “base” of supporters loves hearing the president “tell it like it is.” They cheer him on. They chide those of us who oppose this kind of behavior as being “losers” who are bitter at having lost an election they should have won.

He, of course, knows how the base is going to act and react. That’s why he continues to demonstrate this strange behavior.

Will it ever catch up with him? I am never, ever going to say out loud that it will. Only that it should. This guy has been defying the laws of political gravity since the day he rode down the escalator at Trump Tower and declared his candidacy for the first political office he’s ever sought.

Go … figure.

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.

What does Kim Jong Un want?

USA Today has peeled away five key demands that North Korean dictator/goofball Kim Jong Un is making on the United States and the rest of the world.

I want to examine them briefly over the course of the next couple of days. I’ll do so one at a time in this blog.

Here is one demand: A peace treaty that ends the Korean War.

The carnage ended in 1953 after three bloody years on the Korean Peninsula. Kim Il Sung, the current dictator’s grandfather, decided to “unify” the peninsula by invading South Korea in 1950. The United Nations responded with a substantial military force dominated by — who else? — American troops.

The U.N. force pushed the North Koreans back across the 38th Parallel and got to China’s doorstep in the north. That’s when the People’s Republic of China intervened. The PRC deployed hundreds of thousands of troops against the U.N.

All told, nearly  50,000 Americans died in that struggle.

They signed a ceasefire. But no peace treaty. As a result, South and North Korea remain to this very day technically “at war.”

What does a peace treaty mean? Does it mean a unified Korea? Or might it put in place a permanent divide between the sovereign nations?

The PRC won’t tolerate a unified Korea under the guidance of a democratic Republic of (South) Korea. The Chinese will insist on having a fellow communist state along its border. And you can bet that there’s no way in the world that the United Nations, let alone the United States, is going to agree to a communist dictatorship governing the entire peninsula.

Remember, the North Koreans started the fight in 1950. Does anyone believe the U.N. is going to allow them to be rewarded by giving them the entire land mass?

I suppose the only solution is to keep the two Koreas separate, with the commies running the northern portion and the democrats running the southern area.

But who in the world can trust the North Koreans to remain faithful to a peace treaty after we take down the massive armaments on both sides of the so-called “demilitarized zone”?

A peace treaty, thus, remains a major impediment to resolving this serious crisis.

‘Everybody knows’ Russia meddled in election

Has the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations gone rogue? Is Nikki Haley speaking out of turn when she seems to dispute the president’s view of who hacked into our nation’s election in 2016?

Haley has said that “everybody knows that Russia meddled in our election.” She made the remarks in TV interviews to be broadcast Sunday.

Actually, Mme. Ambassador, while everybody may know that to be true, not quite everybody is willing to say so out loud, on the record, in public.

One of the more prominent officials who remains publicly unconvinced happens to be Donald J. Trump. Intelligence agencies have concluded the Russians meddled; politicians from both political parties have said the same thing.

The president? He keeps giving the Russians political cover by saying that “other countries” might have interfered, too. He met Russian President Vladimir Putin this week in Hamburg, Germany, and supposed “pressed” Putin on what the Russians did. Putin denied doing anything, as if he expects the rest of us to believe the word of a former communist KGB spy.

Haley has broken with Trump already on Russia. She has been harsh in her critique of Putin’s government, while the president continues to pull his punches.

Now she has said what just about the entire civilized world has come to accept: that the Russians sought to undermine our electoral process, that they in effect declared war on our system of government.

If only the president would concur.

Saudis on UN women’s panel? Huh?

Critics of the United Nations — and I am not one of them — gripe often about the absurd decisions the world body makes.

I have to concede that the U.N. has made a bonehead call by placing Saudi Arabia on its Commission on the Status of Women.

Huh? What the … ?

Does anyone need reminding here that women are not allowed to, um, drive motor vehicles in Saudi Arabia? How about pay equity? Women earn a fraction of what Saudi men earn. Saudi women aren’t even allowed to make critical decisions without a man’s approval, for crying out loud!

Sheesh!

The Miami Herald reports that the Saudis formed a “girls council,” but didn’t appoint any females to it.

Good ever-lovin’ grief, man.

The United Nations needs to think about this. I doubt the U.N. would rescind the appointment. Bureaucrats tend to cover their backsides even as they undergo push back from goofy decisions.

The anti-U.N. crowd in this country has been handed plenty of grist with which to beat the world body bloody. I won’t join them in calling for the end of the United Nations.

Decisions such as this one involving the Saudis and the women’s commission, though, does give me pause.

UN envoy says what Trump should say … about Russia

Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad gassed citizens, killing dozens of them.

The president of the United States condemns Assad, as he should do; then he lays the blame for the attack on the inaction of former President Barack Obama.

Then in wades the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, to say what should be said: Russia is complicit in this heinous action and must be punished.

My question: Why, oh why, cannot Donald John Trump muster the guts to speak ill of Russia in this regard?

The president continues to remain mum on Russian misbehavior. He cannot admit in public that the Russians hacked into our election system; he cannot agree that Vladimir Putin is a “killer”; he keeps wishing for a more cooperative relationship with Russia.

But, wait, Mr. President. The Russian are bankrolling Assad’s murderous regime in Syria. They are funding the dictator’s ability to obtain the murderous weapons he uses on his citizens.

Ambassador Haley speaks out

The U.N. Security Council is considering a resolution to condemn the Russians over this attack. Russia is one of the five permanent council members and has the authority to veto any such resolution. Where is the president on this one? Will he condemn the Russians if they veto a resolution that seeks to slap additional sanctions on them?

Ambassador Haley said this, according to The Hill: “Russia has shielded Assad from U.N. sanctions. If Russia has the influence in Syria that it claims it has, we need to see them use it,” Haley said at an emergency meeting of the council. “We need to see them put an end to these horrific acts. How many more children have to die before Russia cares.”

Mr. President, it’s your turn now. It’s time for you to “tell it like it is” concerning Russia.

One-China Policy is OK, right, Mr. President?

Donald J. Trump now is ready to adhere to one of the more complicated elements of U.S. foreign relationships.

It’s called the One-China Policy, which recognizes only one China … and it’s not Taiwan.

Not long after being elected president, Trump took a phone call from Taiwan’s president and then declared the United States ought to rethink its decades-old policy that recognizes the People’s Republic of China.

Bad idea, you know? The conversation between a U.S. president-elect and the leader of Taiwan was the first that had occurred since the United States recognized the PRC as the “real” China.

Taiwan, China maintain complicated relationship

Taiwan is, in fact, a prosperous independent nation that broke away from the Chinese mainland at the end of a bloody civil war that erupted after World War II. Taiwan’s Nationalist government set up shop on Taiwan in 1949 and for three decades it was the recognized government of China.

That all changed dramatically in 1979 when the United States recognized the PRC, kicked out the Taiwanese ambassador. The United Nations booted Taiwan out, too, and welcomed the PRC.

Thus, the One-China Policy was born amid an interesting mix of economic and defense-related agreements that the United States still maintains with Taiwan. We trade with the Taiwanese, we pledge to protect them if the PRC decides to retake the island nation — but we do not recognize them diplomatically.

Trump spoke this week to Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, and reaffirmed out commitment to the policy that recognizes the PRC exclusively as the sole China.

As for Taiwan’s relationship with the PRC, that too, is a matter of delicate maneuvering. Taipei and Beijing allow travel between the countries; family members are allowed to communicate with each other.

Taiwan also believes in a “One China Policy,” but insists that the island nation — not the mainland — is the “real China.” Here’s the deal: Most of Taiwan’s inhabitants were born on the island and consider themselves to be “Taiwanese.”

The president, though, needs to settle down and stick with a policy that recognizes only one China. To do anything different is to insert the United States directly into the middle of a simmering dispute between China and Taiwan.