A Saner U.S. Policy Towards North Korea

There has been volumes written on how to handle the North Korean situation……most of which has centered around some sort of military action…..very little on a more sane approach.

Some will ask…..mostly those on the neocon Right, that will ask if that is even possible. The American Conservative offers up a look at a more sane foreign policy.

There are seven postulates that ought to inform U.S. policy regarding North Korea.

First, our objective. Nothing is more important than to be clear about what we are trying to accomplish. Our purpose should be to provide for our own security and that of our allies, especially South Korea and Japan, while avoiding war. Our purpose should not be regime change in Pyongyang or forcing Kim Jong-un to abandon his nuclear weapons program. Both of those may be desirable. Neither is worth a large-scale war.

(Read on……..)

Source: Seven Steps to a Saner U.S. Policy Towards North Korea | The American Conservative

I will not, no cannot agree with everything they put forward but it is good to see that the Right still has thinkers….put as quickly as the Trump group is trying to purge any actual conservatives from the party…..how long before these saner voices are silenced?

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Why War Does Not Matter

I spend most of my time trying to get people to pay attention to all the wars that we are engaged in today and the ones waiting for their number to come up…..so far I have been wasting my time (or so it seems)…..

American arr blaise towards war….they appear to not care that their neighbors kids are fighting and dying…….and for what?

After studying war for decades I have found a  list of possible reasons……

Americans don’t attend all that much to ongoing American wars because:

1. U.S. casualty rates are low. By using proxies and contractors, and relying heavily on airpower, America’s war managers have been able to keep a tight lid on the number of U.S. troops being killed and wounded.  In all of 2017, for example, a grand total of 11 American soldiers have been lost in Afghanistan — about equal to the number of shooting deaths in Chicago over the course of a typical week. True, in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries where the U.S. is engaged in hostilities, whether directly or indirectly, plenty of people who are not Americans are being killed and maimed.  (The estimated number of Iraqi civilians killed this year alone exceeds 12,000.) But those casualties have next to no political salience as far as the United States is concerned.  As long as they don’t impede U.S. military operations, they literally don’t count (and generally aren’t counted).

2. The true costs of Washington’s wars go untabulated.  In a famous speech, dating from early in his presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower said that “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”  Dollars spent on weaponry, Ike insisted, translated directly into schools, hospitals, homes, highways, and power plants that would go unbuilt.  “This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense,” he continued.  “[I]t is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” More than six decades later, Americans have long since accommodated themselves to that cross of iron.  Many actually see it as a boon, a source of corporate profits, jobs, and, of course, campaign contributions.  As such, they avert their eyes from the opportunity costs of our never-ending wars.  The dollars expended pursuant to our post-9/11 conflicts will ultimately number in the multi-trillions.  Imagine the benefits of investing such sumsin upgrading the nation’s aging infrastructure.  Yet don’t count on Congressional leaders, other politicians, or just about anyone else to pursue that connection.

3. On matters related to war, American citizens have opted out.  Others have made the point so frequently that it’s the equivalent of hearing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” at Christmastime.  Even so, it bears repeating: the American people have defined their obligation to “support the troops” in the narrowest imaginable terms, ensuring above all that such support requires absolutely no sacrifice on their part.  Members of Congress abet this civic apathy, while also taking steps to insulate themselves from responsibility.  In effect, citizens and their elected representatives in Washington agree: supporting the troops means deferring to the commander in chief, without inquiring about whether what he has the troops doing makes the slightest sense.  Yes, we set down our beers long enough to applaud those in uniform and boo those who decline to participate in mandatory rituals of patriotism.  What we don’t do is demand anything remotely approximating actual accountability.

4. Terrorism gets hyped and hyped and hyped some more. While international terrorism isn’t a trivial problem (and wasn’t for decades before 9/11), it comes nowhere close to posing an existential threat to the United States.  Indeed, other threats, notably the impact of climate change, constitute a far greater danger to the well being of Americans.  Worried about the safety of your children or grandchildren?  The opioid epidemic constitutes an infinitely greater danger than “Islamic radicalism.”  Yet having been sold a bill of goods about a “war on terror” that is essential for “keeping America safe,” mere citizens are easily persuaded that scattering U.S. troops throughout the Islamic world while dropping bombs on designated evildoers is helping win the former while guaranteeing the latter.  To question that proposition becomes tantamount to suggesting that God might not have given Moses two stone tablets after all.

5. Blather crowds out substance. When it comes to foreign policy, American public discourse is — not to put too fine a point on it — vacuous, insipid, and mindlessly repetitive.  William Safire of the New York Times once characterized American political rhetoric as BOMFOG, with those running for high office relentlessly touting the Brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God.  Ask a politician, Republican or Democrat, to expound on this country’s role in the world, and then brace yourself for some variant of WOSFAD, as the speaker insists that it is incumbent upon the World’s Only Superpower to spread Freedom and Democracy.  Terms like leadership and indispensable are introduced, along with warnings about the dangers of isolationism and appeasement, embellished with ominous references to Munich.  Such grandiose posturing makes it unnecessary to probe too deeply into the actual origins and purposes of American wars, past or present, or assess the likelihood of ongoing wars ending in some approximation of actual success. Cheerleading displaces serious thought.

6. Besides, we’re too busy.  Think of this as a corollary to point five.  Even if the present-day American political scene included figures like Senators Robert La Follette or J. William Fulbright, who long ago warned against the dangers of militarizing U.S. policy, Americans may not retain a capacity to attend to such critiques.  Responding to the demands of the Information Age is not, it turns out, conducive to deep reflection.  We live in an era (so we are told) when frantic multitasking has become a sort of duty and when being overscheduled is almost obligatory.  Our attention span shrinks and with it our time horizon.  The matters we attend to are those that happened just hours or minutes ago.  Yet like the great solar eclipse of 2017 — hugely significant and instantly forgotten — those matters will, within another few minutes or hours, be superseded by some other development that briefly captures our attention.  As a result, a dwindling number of Americans — those not compulsively checking Facebook pages and Twitter accounts — have the time or inclination to ponder questions like: When will the Afghanistan War end?  Why has it lasted almost 16 years?  Why doesn’t the finest fighting force in history actually win?  Can’t package an answer in 140 characters or a 30-second made-for-TV sound bite?  Well, then, slowpoke, don’t expect anyone to attend to what you have to say.

7. Anyway, the next president will save us.  At regular intervals, Americans indulge in the fantasy that, if we just install the right person in the White House, all will be well.  Ambitious politicians are quick to exploit this expectation.  Presidential candidates struggle to differentiate themselves from their competitors, but all of them promise in one way or another to wipe the slate clean and Make America Great Again.  Ignoring the historical record of promises broken or unfulfilled, and presidents who turn out not to be deities but flawed human beings, Americans — members of the media above all — pretend to take all this seriously.  Campaigns become longer, more expensive, more circus-like, and ever less substantial.  One might think that the election of Donald Trump would prompt a downward revision in the exalted expectations of presidents putting things right.  Instead, especially in the anti-Trump camp, getting rid of Trump himself (Collusion!  Corruption!  Obstruction!  Impeachment!) has become the overriding imperative, with little attention given to restoring the balance intended by the framers of the Constitution.  The irony of Trump perpetuating wars that he once roundly criticized and then handing the conduct of those wars to generals devoid of ideas for ending them almost entirely escapes notice.

8. Our culturally progressive military has largely immunized itself from criticism.  As recently as the 1990s, the U.S. military establishment aligned itself with the retrograde side of the culture wars.  Who can forget the gays-in-the-military controversy that rocked Bill Clinton’s administration during his first weeks in office, as senior military leaders publicly denounced their commander-in-chief?  Those days are long gone.  Culturally, the armed forces have moved left.  Today, the services go out of their way to project an image of tolerance and a commitment to equality on all matters related to race, gender, and sexuality.  So when President Trump announced his opposition to transgendered persons serving in the armed forces, tweeting that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” senior officers politely but firmly disagreed and pushed back.  Given the ascendency of cultural issues near the top of the U.S. political agenda, the military’s embrace of diversity helps to insulate it from criticism and from being called to account for a less than sterling performance in waging wars.  Put simply, critics who in an earlier day might have blasted military leaders for their inability to bring wars to a successful conclusion hold their fire.  Having women graduate from Ranger School or command Marines in combat more than compensates for not winning.

(commondreams.org)

A collective indifference to war has become an emblem of contemporary America.  But don’t expect your neighbors down the street or the editors of the New York Times to lose any sleep over that fact.  Even to notice it would require them — and us — to care.

Only A Matter Of Time

There has been so much macho banter between Trump and Kim these days that it could get damn right boring.

Between “fury and fire” to Kim’s latest, “US should be tamed with fire”….that is is only a matter of time before one of these jabs hits a nerve and some moron unleashes that which most NEVER be unleashed.

Right now the US and South Korea are having their military exercises off the Coast of the Korean Peninsula……in a show of strength and intimation toward North Korea has gotten Li’l kim’s dander up….

North Korea is once again threatening to launch missiles toward Guam, the New York Times reports. The US territory is in the crosshairs this time over a joint naval exercise being held by the US and South Korea and scheduled to start Monday in the waters around South Korea. “We have already warned several times that we will take counteractions for self-defense, including a salvo of missiles into waters near the US territory of Guam,” says Kim Kwang-Hak, a researcher at the Institute for American Studies at the North Korea Foreign Ministry. “The US military action hardens our determination that the US should be tamed with fire and lets us take our hand closer to the ‘trigger.'” While the US maintains the exercise, like previous ones, is defensive, North Korea sees it as practice for an invasion.

Asked about North Korea on Friday, President Trump said, “We’re totally prepared for numerous things,” the Los Angeles Times reports. He added: “We’re going to see what happens.” A day earlier, John Kelly said North Korea’s potential ability to hit the US with missiles should concern Americans, according to CNN. “Let’s hope that diplomacy works,” the chief of staff said. Despite earlier comments, Trump also said Friday that he’s “open” to negotiation. “But if it’s going to be something other than negotiation, believe me, we are ready—moreso than we have ever been,” the president added.

People like me keep trying to bring attention to the problems that all this bluster could produce…..and the GOP seems determined that something be done…..weapons wise…..and they are gaining in support for the use of these weapons….

Even as Bob Corker, one of the most prominent members of the Republican caucus in the Senate, continues to sound the alarm about President Trump’s rhetoric about North Korea, a new poll says nearly half of his party’s voters support a preemptive strike against the country. In a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, 46% of Republican voters say they support attacking North Korea, while 41% are opposed to a preemptive strike, the Washington Post reports. Those numbers come after months of amped-up rhetoric between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over Pyongyang’s nuclear testing. During a speech at the United Nations last month, Trump said the US would have no choice but to “totally destroy” North Korea “if it is forced to defend itself or its allies.”

In general, American voters oppose a preemptive strike 62% to 26%. In addition, a large majority of the country doesn’t trust Trump to handle the situation with North Korea at all, Newsweek reports. Rather, voters say, by a margin of 65% to 28%, that they have confidence in “top national security and diplomatic officials” to handle the situation. “Voters don’t have confidence in President Donald Trump to handle North Korea, but they’re hoping other members of the Trump team will step up,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, says.

Then the SecState weighs in on the situation…..

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has continued with his same public narrative on North Korea over the weekend, insisting that the US is committed to trying to solve the situation diplomatically, and will remain committed “until the first bomb drops.”

Forgive me but I was under the impression that the SecState’s job was to see that the bombs Do Not drop…..none of this rhetoric is doing anything to calm the situation (maybe that is the plan all along)….

None of this is very promising for a peaceful conclusion to all this verbal hostility…..thank goodness there are still a few that have a clear mind and are not swayed by diatribes.

We can only pray that these sane individuals will prevail.

If They Only Had A Brain

“He is a f*cking moron!”

It has been reported that Tillerson has made that comment about Trump……and oh boy the news sites explode…..and wham!  We gonna have a Press  conference.

Well while the country waited for this “presser” we got to hear all about the ways that Tillerson is not as good fit in DC…..time was filled  while we waited.

Then about 1100hrs Eastern time Tillerson bounced out and told his side of the story.

The “presser” was the same as all …..he is a cheerleader of Trump and he is there to stay

The US Secretary of State reaffirmed his commitment to his role on Wednesday, denying that he would step down from his role.

Rex Tillerson called media reports that he had considered resigning “erroneous”, but stopped short of denying reports he had insulted President Donald Trump.

“I reaffirm my commitment to this role and I want to dispel this notion that I have considered leaving,” Tillerson said.

The Secretary of State denied speaking with the president earlier today and said his decision to speak was his alone.

he US Secretary of State reaffirmed his commitment to his role on Wednesday, denying that he would step down from his role.

Rex Tillerson called media reports that he had considered resigning “erroneous”, but stopped short of denying reports he had insulted President Donald Trump.

“I reaffirm my commitment to this role and I want to dispel this notion that I have considered leaving,” Tillerson said.

The Secretary of State denied speaking with the president earlier today and said his decision to speak was his alone.

In a short speech that listed his department’s reported achievements to date, Tillerson also praised the president’s intelligence and leadership before criticising Washington news media.

“He loves America… he’s smart, he demands accountability.”

That was the typical speech given by anyone that has been said to have stood up to the president….ass kissers.

It was a speech to one person only.  This speech was for no one but the man at 35,000 feet on his way to Vegas.

Captain Knee Pads

Five Worst Foreign Policy Presidents

I have been asked for the Winter session to teach a course of US Diplomatic History…I have already taught one on the US Foreign Policy in the Middle East…..and now with all the news about our diplomatic and foreign policy problems the school felt there would be interest in a course on the subject.  We will see!

MY readers know that I judge my presidents by their foreign policy chops….it is too early for me to choose Trump as a bad foreign policy president.

We have had some terrible presidents in foreign policy……and the American Conversation has put together a list…..

The president of the United States is granted wide leeway by the U.S. Constitution over foreign policy, more than any other policy realm. In addition to being the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, the president can make treaties, appoint diplomats (with the consent of the Senate), and, due to congressional legislation, impose sanctions on foreign entities.

Since World War II, the United States has issued no declarations of war; all military actions have been initiated by the president. As per the War Powers Resolution of 1973, the president can deploy troops for up to 60 days without congressional approval. Thus, whatever the foreign policy of the United States—positive or negative—the president owns it: his vision and decisions can initiate a foreign conflict with very little to inhibit him. We call it the “Monroe Doctrine” and not the “18th Congress Doctrine” for a reason—and not all of them have been successful. Who were the worst foreign policy presidents in our history? Here are the five who make the cut:

Source: Five Worst Foreign Policy Presidents in American History | The American Conservative

Anyone you would like to add?  Please justify why you think they deserve a spot on the lists.

Closing Thought–06Oct17

The year is 1961 and a recent Nightly News broadcast has told the world that the Sec. General of the Untied Nations, Dag Hammarskjold has been killed in a plane crash in Africa.

I bring this up because it is one of my first memories of me be interested in what is happen on the international stage….I recall that there was a wealth of speculation swirling around the crash…..was it shot down?  Was it engine trouble?  Was it a direct attack on the plane?

To this today there are still questions being asked with few good answers…..

Conspiracy theories claiming the 1961 plane crash that killed UN chief Dag Hammarskjold was orchestrated by the US government and its allies have been circulating for years—and may have just gained some weight. A fresh investigation into the Swedish diplomat’s death has uncovered a “significant amount of evidence” that his Douglas DC-6 plane was brought down by another aircraft while on a peace mission in Africa, according to a UN report seen by the Guardian. The report—based on undisclosed data provided by the US, UK, Belgium, Canada, and Germany—adds that both the US and UK had spies or surveillance aircraft near Ndola, in what is now Zambia, and intercepted radio traffic at the time the plane was brought down near Ndola’s airport.

Both the US and UK should therefore have evidence that, if presented, could solve the 56-year-old mystery, former Tanzanian chief justice Mohamed Chande Othman writes in the report. He notes the appointment of independent officials to search US and UK archives “is a step that must be taken before this matter … may rest.” But based on the evidence compiled so far—including witness accounts describing other aircraft in the area and flames coming from Hammarskjold’s plane before impact—”it appears plausible that external attack or threat may have been a cause of the crash,” Othman concludes. He also notes evidence may back up the theory that a Belgian pilot working for rebels in the area mistakenly hit the plane with a warning shot meant to keep the plane from landing.

Like I said….this incident is what lead me down my path of international relations and study…..

We Don’t Need No Stinking Deal!

Obama and his partners in the P5+1 work hard and finally a deal was reached between Iran and the rest of the world on their pursuit of nukes.

A perfect deal?  Of course not!  No deal is perfect but as long as it holds up and the all players are satisfied then it is a success.  I know most everyone has an opinion on the Iran thing….those same people have strong opinion of the North Korean situation……but has anyone thought about them as a common problem?

During thew Obama admin it was certified that Iran was holding to the terms and it has been re-certified.  Same since Trump took over the throne of power….the only person in the Trump camp that does not like the deal is Trump himself and is said to be looking for ways to pull out before all is accomplished.

Let us move on (for the moment)….the other problem (nuke) is the mash-up with North Korea in its pursuit of nuke weapons and a delivery system.

The war of words is approaching a point of no-return, in my opinion…..Trumps chest thumping on NK remands of the same type of show that Israel has put on about Iran and its pursuit of a nuke future.

The US State Department has said that there are some backroom negotiations with NK to try and walk back this rush to open conflict.  But the president does not want a peaceful settlement of the animosities with NK…..

After lamenting the “almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico” and blasting “politically motivated ingrates” there Sunday morning, President Trump moved onto a new topic on Twitter: North Korea and its nuclear weapons program. The Guardian reports that barely 24 hours had passed since Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to assuage Americans by calling for calm and noting our “lines of communication” with Pyongyang, when Trump decided to put in his two cents on Tillerson’s efforts. “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” he tweeted midmorning, using a recent nickname he’d coined for Kim Jong Un.

He followed that up with: “Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!” Later Sunday afternoon, Trump returned after a several-hour Twitter hiatus to add some more thoughts on the matter, tweeting, “Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed. I won’t fail.” During a press conference in Beijing Saturday, Tillerson had deemed Trump’s rhetoric on the situation “overheated.” It’s not clear what Trump’s “what has to be done” entails.

This is NOT the way to handle a touchy situation that become a no-return scenario…..Appearance are the Trump wants more war….that he will not consider a peaceful resolution to this situation.

I bring all this up because of a simple problem that they do not seem to grasp.  (This is where I tie the two situation together)

Trump in his haste to pacify neocons and Israel on the Iran deal could be created a similar problem that he is now having with NK….he could be turning one nuke crisis into two…..

During his first address to the United Nations General Assembly this month, US President Donald Trump took the opportunity to lash out at two countries in particular.

He described North Korea – or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) as Pyongyang calls itself – as a “depraved” regime with a “twisted” mentality that consists of a “band of criminals” equipped with “nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles”. Trump then threatened to “totally destroy” the country if the US was forced into a corner.

In similar vein, he labelled Iran a “corrupt dictatorship” and pronounced the Iran nuclear deal – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and concluded between Tehran and world powers in July 2015 – as “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into”.

Obviously, for the US administration, there is a close link between these two challenges – will the North Korean nuclear crisis have serious policy implications for Washington’s attitude towards JCPOA?

Source: Trump logic: Turn one nuclear crisis into two by killing the Iran deal | Middle East Eye

Time for some SANITY!  (if that is possible….and as it looks today….NOT LIKELY!)