Sunday, March 26, 2017

That's Not His Style

Americans were in danger of losing their health care last week. They dodged a bullet. But there is a bigger danger looming. Tony Burman writes:

During a visit to South Korea earlier this month, Rex Tillerson, [Donald] Trump’s secretary of state, announced what appeared to be a dramatic change in American policy toward the nuclear threat of North Korea.

Since the diplomacy of the past 20 years has “failed,” he warned, pre-emptive military action against North Korea is now “on the table.” Tillerson’s warning reflected the U.S. government’s worry that Kim’s renegade regime is accelerating its nuclear program.

Having lost big time in Congress, Trump will not take Korean threats -- which are not new -- lying down:

This nuclear challenge has confronted several American presidents since the 1990s. It has also frustrated China, North Korea’s neighbour and chief economic benefactor, which potentially stands to lose the most if the Korean Peninsula descends into chaos.

This sudden reference by the Trump administration to the possibility of pre-emptive military action against North Korea has rattled the region. There are few informed analysts who see this option, if pursued, as anything but a certain catastrophe.

North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is thought to be widely dispersed throughout the country. No single military strike could destroy it. North Korea also has an even larger stockpile of chemical and biological weapons. Analysts believe that an attack would give Kim’s regime ample time to hit back immediately at neighbouring South Korea and at U.S. military bases in the region.

The potential death toll from such a conflict would be breathtaking. South Korea’s capital city of Seoul has a population of more than 10 million and is only about 50 kilometres from the border. 

Mr.Trump was willing to throw 14 million people off medicare. Would the lives of 10 million Koreans lay heavily on his conscience?

Burman writes that "rather than a pre-emptive strike, what is needed is increasing economic and diplomatic pressure — in tandem with China — to rein in the North Korean regime."

We saw how Trump operates last week. That's not his style. Nor is it Kim Jong Un's.

Image: Daily Express


the salamander said...

.. a fraudulent billionaire real estate developer who tweets his crude opinions
.. a thug millionaire named Steven Bannon whispering in the presidential ear
.. a billionaire son in law, spin merchants named Spicer & Kellyanne
.. a billionaire former oil executive Tillerson
and an echo chamber of foaming at the mouth GOP members
Oh.. did I mention the Presidential daughter with Classified Document clearance
and numerous characters 'close to the President' also 'close to the Russians' ?

OK .. this is real life / reality TV .. the stars getting big coverage, big money..
The problem is - the extras, background actors etc.. are the audience
Yes.. US ! We don't get paid to be taken for a ride..
nor can we expect any sort of upside for being caught is such a spin cycle
of greed, power, wealth, deceit, media, pollution, fraud or war..

And where I live, I see politics embracing this 'successful' style..
some sort of fantasy world meets big business governance.. driven by ratings/polls
so all us little people can understand our cues & scenes/how to vote

Owen Gray said...

Leona Helmsley coined the motto for these folks thirty-five years ago, salamander. She -- and they -- don't pay attention to "the little people." She, too, made her name as a hotelier.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

I have a horrible feeling Owen that with Trump as president there is no going back.I see him approving a first strike against N.Korea, as a possibility. He is a very, very ignorant man, on top of being a psychopath. This is what makes him so dangerous. The bottom line is , who is there to stop him?

His fellow psychopaths in the military and pentagon want another war, nuclear or otherwise and they are the ones advising him or manipulating him, which my guess is very easy to do.

His willingness to throw 14 million Americans off of medicare reflects how little he values human life, including Americans.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Pam. Trump is a dangerous man whose judgment is flawed and whose personality is unstable.

The Mound of Sound said...

I'm not sure his generals or his intelligence community would let him get away with it, Owen. There's no certainty they could take out enough of his arsenal to be able to prevent him from nuking Tokyo, Yokohama, Singapore, Seoul or Bangkok, perhaps all of them. A half dozen missiles surviving an American first strike would be all Kim needs. It would be hard to keep the world economy from collapsing.

Even if they were able to target all of Kim's nukes the knock-on effects of their destruction could be region-wide. Remember, China is right next door.

All of Asia would blame the States for a pre-emptive attack gone wrong.

Owen Gray said...

It would be comforting to know that Trump's generals would defy him, Mound. But it's hard to know if they would.

The Mound of Sound said...

After I posted this comment, Owen, I did a quick round through a few military affairs/foreign policy web sites. Two that touched on the subject didn't deal with whether Trump's commanders would execute such an order but confirmed that there's no realistic prospect that an American first strike would neutralize Kim's ability to retaliate on the neighbours with nuclear, chemical and conventional weapons. I'm confident that the Joint Chiefs know this option would be a catastrophe for America, for East and Southeast Asia, and, to a lesser extent, pretty much everywhere else including Europe. America has always had the ability to wipe out the world. It's been their willingness to show restraint and the ability of their allies to rely on that restraint that has been the foundation of the American empire from 1945 until now. Trump probably has a weak grasp of that but his commanders, most of them anyway, know better.

Owen Gray said...

One hopes things have changed from the 1960's, Mound, when Curtis Lemay told John Kennedy that the way to deal with Cuba was to bomb the island back to the Stone Age. Kennedy apparently told an aide, "Keep that man away from me!"

Unfortunately, LBJ believed that very strategy would work in Vietnam.

The Mound of Sound said...

LBJ and Nixon did some terrible things in that corner of Asia, Owen, but nuclear weapons were never part of the mix. Even if nuclear devices are destroyed with conventional munitions that can create the equivalent of a "dirty bomb" with radiation contamination that can spread on the winds and last for decades. If that occurs in a populated area the casualties could be substantial.

None of this is to say that I don't favour removal of the Kim regime from the North and subsequent unification with the South. It's hard to imagine any other option for achieving lasting peace.

Owen Gray said...

As the Brits say, Mound, it's a sticky wicket. Nixon actively promoted the image that, when it came to Asia, he was a madman. With Trump, however, I'm not sure it's an image.