The Greatest Tweet of All

When it comes to Twitter trolling, there are some who are simply in a class by themselves.  Sonny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon, with his unconditional love of the movie Sucker Punch and his defense of Miracle Whip, comes to mind.  Then there’s Comfortably Smug, who’s the kind of guy who probably would have taken up for Tonya Harding if social media had been around in those days, just because nobody else would.  It’s feeds like theirs that make Twitter—which daily manages to drain yet more water from the shallow pool that is my remaining faith in humanity—somewhat bearable and sometimes fun.

But even these giants cannot hold a candle to the Once and Future King of Twitter—the one man who, through the sheer force of his epic trollery, just might be mankind’s last, best hope against the coming AI singularity.  Not only that, he also happens to be President of the United States.

That’s right, I’m talking about none other than Donald J. Trump.  Don’t mess with this bull, fellas, because if you do you’ll get the horns—especially if you’re a little boy dictator with body image problems.

Case in point:  one Kim Jong-un, son of the wacky North Korean despot Kim Jong-il.  Junior took over running the joint when his daddy bought the corner lot in one of hell’s seedier neighborhoods, and has since become known for his taste in Western whiskey and his penchant for executing relatives in rather creative ways.  He also likes to pal around with Dennis Rodman when he’s not threatening to rain down fiery destruction on the United States—kind of like a toddler screaming for attention, but with nuclear weapons.  Barack Obama seemed content to coddle this kind of behavior when he was president, but since Trump moved into the White House he’s been somewhat less indulgent.  This has led to a war of words between the two leaders, with Kim reportedly dinging the Donald over their respective age differences.

Trump, meanwhile, fired back with a rejoinder for the ages:

That’s weapons grade trolling, folks.  The only thing that would make it better is if Trump shipped a case of Jenny Craig to Pyongyang and had it delivered to Li’l Kim with his regards.

Liberals, of course, scoffed at the president’s mockery, screaming that Obama would have never done this and that Trump is leading us into war, blah, blah, blah—but my favorite response came from the satirical news feed DPRK News Service, which was so good that some Democrat detractors probably took it seriously:

Get your popcorn ready and let the games begin!

Trump Says This Is The ‘Calm Before The Storm’

Speaking before a dinner with military leaders and their spouses on Thursday night, President Trump said that the gathering may represent “the calm before the storm.” The comment occurred at the White House State Dining Room before a group of reporters.

Bloomberg reports that the president asks the reporters, “You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.”

When asked what he meant, President Trump answered, “You’ll find out.”

Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump had said that his Administration was focused on “challenges that we really should have taken care of a long time ago, like North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, ISIS, and the revisionist powers that threaten our interests all around the world.”

At that point, the president made what seemed to be a warning to North Korea. “We cannot allow this dictatorship to threaten our nation or our allies with unimaginable loss of life,” Trump said. “We will do what we must do to prevent that from happening. And it will be done, if necessary — believe me.”

The president’s comments may be the latest in a series of attempts to convince the North Korean regime that Trump is unhinged. Over the past few months, President Trump has engaged in a rhetorical war of words with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in which the two men seemingly try to one-up each other’s martial boasts. Over the weekend, President Trump tweeted that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump’s nickname for the North Korean leader.

Axios recently reported that President Trump had urged his staff to portray him as “crazy” as a negotiating tactic with South Korea. According to the report, Trump told diplomats pressing for a renegotiation of the US trade pact with South Korea, “This guy’s so crazy he could pull out any minute.”

The tactic appears to have worked with the South Koreans. On Thursday, South Korea agreed to amend the trade deal.

 

U.S. and North Korea: Very Few Options Remain

President Trump gave a fantastic speech in the UN this week, and in particular was very strong in establishing our position regarding North Korea.

Just last week, the UN approved additional more severe sanctions against the Hermit Kingdom, but the U.S. did not get what they asked for. Instead they settled for what Ambassador Nikki Haley could squeeze out of China and Russia. What was eventually approved is fairly stringent and is having some effect on North Korea.

However, once sanctions begin to escalate, the timeline to military action by necessity gets shorter. If you’ve sanctioned everything you can, and have every agreeable country on board, then sanctions either work or they don’t. At that point, other options have to be explored.

It is doubtful China or Russia will ever agree to the any tougher sanctions, which means we are probably near the conclusion of the sanction phase of this problem. There are a few remaining non-sanction options prior to the military option, and they are very different and each present challenges.

First, let’s recap each country’s redline and desires:

  • China: The leaders in China would like to see an end to this mess. The red line for them is historic. What they can’t abide and won’t allow is South Korea, along with the U.S. occupying North Korea. Having the other global super-power sitting on their border is unfathomable. That’s easy to understand, we would go nuts if China’s military was sitting on the Mexico border, as a matter of fact, we didn’t much appreciate Russia being in Cuba.
  • North Korea: This is very simple. Kim Jong Un’s red line is giving up his nuclear program.
  • United States: The White House has made it very clear we will not allow an aggressive antagonizing foreign entity threatening us with an ICBM nuclear weapon pointed at our mainland. No long term scenario where Kim Jong Un has an nuclear ICBM and remains under these severe sanctions seems possible. It is generally accepted that once he gets his missile technology solved, its a whole new ball game. The President and his advisors are attempting to stop the pudgy dictator before he gets that far.

Those are the red lines. In a broad brush, here is what each want:

  • China: Being a paranoid and historically isolationist by nature, China wants nothing more than to see the U.S. get out of South Korea. Their long term goal is to dominate the region economically, and it’s proven they don’t mind being a regional bully. Having the U.S. in South Korea and Japan is a constant thorn in their side. They deplore the fact that the U.S. has long-range radar and intelligence capabilities so close to their border, and desperately want us gone.
  • North Korea: To Kim Jong Un, having nuclear weapons equates to security, however; having the U.S. parked across the border only heightens his paranoia. Kin Jong Un wants the U.S. gone, and he wants to be accepted on the world stage as a nuclear nation just like Pakistan.
  • United States: Our red line is North Korea possessing a fully developed ICBM capable of hitting the mainland U.S.

Two of the remaining options are:

More and more, thought is being given to accepting the fact that North Korea is a nuclear nation. One of the remaining options would be for China along with the U.S sitting down with both Korean nations and working through a peace treaty which would replace the existing truce. Under this scenario, the U.S. would agree to remove its military presence from South Korea. The thought is once we are gone from the region, Kim Jong Un will not longer be concerned with us. Its an out of sight, out of mind thing. He’s not muslim, he doesn’t consider us the Great Satan, he just basically wants us the hell off his border.

The other option would be to move Japan and South Korea into fully developed nuclear nations. Not just having U.S. nuclear weapons on their soil, but possessing a fully functional nuclear program of their own. Whether this would ever really be given serious consideration is unknown at this time.  How the world would look at this option given the existing non-proliferation treaties is questionable, however; the case could be made this option would be better than war.

How would this be effective? If Japan and South Korea were moving rapidly into a mature nuclear weapons capability, the threat to China would increase exponentially. Two countries on their border with nuclear weapons, along with missile defense and state of the art radar capability would undoubtable be unthinkable. If President Trump, along with both Japan and South Korea were to announce this agreement, it wouldn’t take China long to end North Korea’s nuclear threat.

The bottom line is China doesn’t really believe the U.S. will ever use military force. Given that fact, they have no real incentive to push North Korea over the edge or change status quo. If they realize Japan and South Korea have become the real threat, North Korea would not stand in their way to eliminate that threat. While a lot has been written about this option, the fact that it hasn’t happened yet, is probably a key indicator of the difficulties it presents.

I believe there is a growing consensus toward the first option, that of the U.S. leaving the region. Given the populist movement we are experiencing, and the devastating effects of war would have on South Korea, agreeing to leave that area might be the only prudent way to proceed. The arguments for this are very difficult to refute, it makes North Korea and China very happy, it reduces the existential nuclaer threat we now perceive, and it enables a long-term peace treaty between the nations.

Lastly, there is a very real danger in sanctioning Kim Jong Un so severely his nation begins to revolt. If his back were against the wall, there is a very  real possibility of him becoming extremely unreliable and unpredictable.  It wouldn’t seem to take much for Kim Jong Un then to lash out militarily toward South Korea and the U. S. This is not unimaginable if Kim Jong Un were to perceived he was out of options. Given that, it is not likely China would ever allow him to be pushed that far.

No stakeholder in this imbroglio desires the military option; however, having said that, sometimes events push nations towards war regardless of their desires. The U.S. must be sensitive to the timing of the sanctions phase and when it become necessary to quickly move past it into the next phase. Once that happens, few choices remain, but if done wisely, long term peace is possible.

Switzerland Will Mediate With North Korea. What Should We Ask For?

North Korea has an arsenal of nuclear weapons. They’ve likely got a thermonuclear weapon, or at least an enhanced “atomic bomb” that can produce a yield of at least 100kt. The bomb that America exploded over Hiroshima was 15kt.

Putting this into perspective, a big chunk of America’s nuclear inventory is the W76 thermonuclear warhead, which has a yield of 100kt. The W76 weighs something less than 362 lbs, which is the combined weight of the warhead plus its re-entry vehicle. (Source.)

North Korea also has demonstrated the capability for an extended-range IRBM or possibly an ICBM. If the North Koreans can successfully fit their warhead into the re-entry package for their missile, that’s a credible threat. Of course, we don’t know if they can (assuredly, we know more than our government is telling, however) until they do it.

Kim Jong-un has repeatedly said his nuclear program is non-negotiable. We can assume this means the missile program is also non-negotiable. So what would the United States tell Switzerland to ask for in mediation?

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is set on ratcheting up diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea.

She told the Security Council Monday that Kim is “begging for war,” and urged the adoption of the strongest sanctions possible against North Korea.

“Enough is enough,” Haley said. “We have taken an incremental approach, and despite the best of intentions, it has not worked.”

The Chinese Ambassador to the UN, Liu Jieyi, stopped short of giving thought to a military option.

“The peninsula issue must be resolved peacefully,” he said. “China will never allow chaos and war on the peninsula.”

This seems like an impasse. Anything other than China’s tacit approval of a military threat with the UN’s imprimatur seems to acknowledge the inevitability of a nuclear, ICBM-equipped North Korea.

It would appear this is the starting point of any mediation through Switzerland. North Korea gets to keep its nuclear deterrent in exchange for…what?

Here’s some thoughts on that–which has been unthinkable until now.

A real peace, an end to armistice

First on the list has to be an end to the armistice signed in 1953. The armistice preserves a technical state of war between North and South Korea. A formal peace treaty recognizing both countries, their common ethnic heritage, and the importance of international cooperation has to be a must.

This means giving up on reunification except through political means.

Demilitarization

If real peace is to be had, then the threat of conventional war needs to be reduced significantly. The North must agree to remove its Sword of Damocles hanging over Seoul and enter into arms reduction talks with South Korea for peace to have a chance.

As part of this discussion, America has to be willing to pull our troops out of South Korea. There’s no need to defend South Korea from attack if North Korea abandons its hopes for conquest.

America’s withdrawal, China’s accountability

If we leave the Kims in charge of North Korea, armed with a realistic nuclear deterrent (to America), then China has to step up as the adult in the room.

We ask for normalized relations between North and South Korea, with a permanent treaty, and America leaves the peninsula. However, only China can enforce that treaty. So if North Korea breaks it, and China backs the North, everything goes back to the way it was…and quickly.

The risk

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Switzerland negotiates some form of all-of-the-above between North and South Korea, and China accepts. What are the risks?

The risk is that Kim never really intended to keep the treaty, and never truly complies with demilitarization, while the U.S. leaves South Korea. Then China backs Kim by covering up the deception.

Now the U.S. can’t get back to South Korea without facing serious charges of its own destabilizing influence. In fact, the North could threaten to lob an ICBM at us if we set foot on the peninsula.

The real question we must ask is if we can trust Kim to be a rational actor, who has no designs on forced reunification, or if this is would be another fruitless ruse.

Would discussions progress indefinitely while Kim continues to build his nuclear arsenal? Would the North suddenly disengage at the last minute, claiming some minor event as a trigger?

Camp David and Oslo

We’ve all seen this before: the Middle East discussions between Israel and the Palestinians has moved tantalizingly close to “peace” (Camp David, Oslo) only to have the entire thing thrown in the trash by the latest Palestinian leader who really wants Israel destroyed, not peace.

If Kim is like the Palestinians, there’s no good solution, and a military conflict seems inevitable. If Kim simply wants to be left alone, the unthinkable (a nuclear North Korea, left alone at peace with its neighbor) could be possible.

Personally, I think Kim has been raised from birth to believe his own bulls*it. I believe he wants to rule–or for his successors to rule–over one Korean people. I believe, like the Palestinians, he will never accept true peace, even a peace secured by his own nuclear deterrent.

I believe we must stop Kim by other means, which will be extremely dangerous. I honestly hope I’m wrong, but we can’t afford the price of being right.

Also published at The New Americana.

The North Korean Solution




I’ve let this go on for days now.  North Korea threatens to nuke Guam and suddenly everyone is an expert on how to stop them.  All these “experts” cite “books” and “war colleges” and “visits to North Korea”.  Well if there’s one thing I learned from watching professional wrestling, it’s that you don’t need to be literate to have power.

I’ve done my own research.  I watched Die Another Day, I used Google Maps to make sure I knew where Guam was for sure, and I asked my dry cleaner about the whole situation (turns out she’s actually from China but she seemed smart so I took her advice).

The solution is simple.  We draw up a simple treaty with Kim Jong Whatever.  We let him have Guam if he promises never to develop a nuke that can reach further than California and we agree to send him one of our barbers at least once a month .  We wait until he occupies Guam, then we nuke it ourselves.



Boom. We just liberated North Korea while also shedding the dead weight that is Guam (seriously, why do we own Guam?).  I’ve forwarded this information to the Trump administration and it must be picking up steam because I already heard back from the Secret Service.

I’ll keep you posted.

Time and North Korea




Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

1973 Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon 

The media and DC politicians call it “kicking the can down the road”.  In real life outside the Swamp, it’s called procrastination, paralysis by analysis, or just plain ole cowardice. Making the hard decision is well…hard; previous cowardly indecisiveness has frittered the hours away and now its time to pay the piper.

No issue more showcases this can kicking reality than North Korea. It is an existential global threat, built over time. North Korea’s desire to own nuclear weapons has been known since the early 90s. Throughout that time, Foggy Bottom has had the lead, so diplomacy, sanctions, and bribes in the form of foreign aid have been our go-to solutions. From Clinton through Bush to Obama, the cycles of the past 15 years of North Korea problem solving could be described as laughable if not so dire. North Korea blusters, threatens and bluffs, Congress gets their panties twisted in a knot, the media ratchets up noise, and the White House promises to find a livable solution.

The cycle then goes through the UN, sanctions, and threats of more sanctions, all the while North Korea becomes more and more bellicose. Eventually, the White House folds, and the State Department is tasked with diplomatic bribery. Millions and millions of aid and cash, based solely on North Korea’s promise to stop pursuing nuclear weapons. Once they are satisfied they have bled us dry, we get their promise to be good global citizens, and voila, the crisis is averted. Until the next time. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. All the while, they are lying through their teeth, working like a rented water buffalo to achieve their nuclear goals, and getting closer and closer to success.

Success for North Korea has arrived. Time’s up. The clock has run out, the can has been kicked all the way to the end of the road. Which leaves us with one of two very different scenarios.

The first is a continuation of the past two decades, and fittingly Susan Rice puts it most succinctly: (Business Insider)



“We need to be very measured, very careful, very planned in our rhetoric. I hope that we will see more measure out of the administration and out of the president as he approaches this very real challenge. A pre-emptive attack by the United States would be a very, very poor choice, a very dangerous choice,” Rice said.

It is plain this scenario is premised upon the acceptance that North Korea is a nuclear power, Susan Rice makes this very plain in her latest interview: (CNN)

“The issue now is what to do in a world where North Korea, led by Kim, possesses some of the most destructive weapons in history.”

By now, its glaringly apparent China and North Korea are banking on this dovish acquiescence. Their long term gamble has been based on their long-held belief Washington is more hot air than spine. Given China’s decision to allow Kim Jong Un to carry on unfettered, it appears they haven’t moved off of this position.

Enter Team Trump with phrases such as “fire and fury” and “destruction of its people”; or to put it in a more colloquial manner: “Oh hell no!”  Let’s hope they stay true to their initial instincts, time’s running out.

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over
Thought I’d something more to say

Kim Jong-Un Is A Spoiled Brat, Which Is Why He’s So Dangerous




Let me start this by saying there is no “easy” answer to North Korea based on the current state of affairs.  Ever since Bill Clinton gave them the technology to start a nuke program in 1994, we’ve been headed down this path into the tangled briar patch.  But despite the complexity, plenty of analysts seem to have answers to how to approach the situation.  Unfortunately, most of the solutions being thrown around in the media seem to forget a very important point:

We’re not dealing with a rationale actor in North Korea’s young dictator, Kim Jong-Un.  

By which I mean, he’s not the typical dictator of a powerful Communist nation.  He’s a sadistic, spoiled brat, who inherited power from his father.  He has no leadership experience and no clue what he’s doing.



Growing up, he was taught he was essentially divine.  In North Korea, his grandfather and father were revered like gods, and he has no less of an opinion about himself.  Arrogant and aggressive, he has always gotten away with everything in life.  He has never had to face the consequences of his bad behavior.  He’s a bully, who no one has ever hit back.  And if any person ever tried to punch him back, his daddy fed them to the wild dogs.

So Kim doesn’t think like a normal person.  He doesn’t consider what happens after he strikes.  He doesn’t know what comes next.  This blissful ignorance likely extends to what happens after a nuke launch.  There have never been consequences to his temper tantrums before.  In his mind – Why should there be any now?  This makes him irrational and unpredictable.

The Communist leaders we’ve dealt with in the past were very different.  They were evil, but not nearly so unstable and irrational.  Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Gorbachev, Mao, Kim Il Sung, and others had to kill their way to the top.  No one handed them power.  This is an important distinction.  During their careers, they learned the dangers and consequences of their decisions.  If they grabbed for power and missed, they would be killed.  This taught them the risks and rewards of their actions.

Kim Jong-Un doesn’t have that life experience to give him perspective.  He fell into power and used it to gleefully kill family, friends, and enemies alike in cold blood.  Taking human life doesn’t bother him.  In fact, he seems to enjoy it.

Donald Trump does not have any background to understand how someone like Kim thinks.  Trump is used to suing real estate moguls in New York City.  Meanwhile, the fat little monster sends people to the firing squad.  Despite what the American Left may think, there is a big difference.

Herein lays my concern with Trump’s “trash talk” about “fire and fury”.  Not because of Trump specifically, but because those words are directed at an irrational punk who plays with mini-nukes instead of GI Joe action figures.  (Directed at anyone else, Trump’s comments wouldn’t bother me nearly as much.)  Kim Jong-Un likely hears Trump’s words as a challenge and threat.  Without life experiences to give him pause, he may decide to answer that challenge.

It’s doubtful Kim realizes the gravity of the situation.  He has the temperament of a fussy child, and there’s no indication that he understands gamesmanship or bluffing.  In fact, in his interpersonal interactions, he doesn’t seem to bluff at all.  He sees a problem and eliminates it.

This is the folly of youth, and the pudgy dictator is quite young.  I fear some analysts are underestimating the North Korean threat based on past experiences with more rationale, mature dictators.  Unfortunately, those parallels may be creating a false sense of confidence.  I don’t know if we’ve ever dealt with anyone quite like Kim Jong-Un before, which is why this is all so dangerous.

North Korea Isn’t Kidding About War. Neither Is Trump








The North Koreans have never been shy about taking life. They are not skittish about committing acts of war. And now three things seem to be confirmed:

1) North Korea possesses rockets capable of threatening U.S. territory, as well as Japan and other American allies.

2) North Korea has miniaturized nuclear warheads to fit into warheads, or will soon be able to do so.

3) North Korea has begun moving anti-ship cruise missiles onto a patrol boat on the peninsula’s east coast, according to Fox News.

I say these things are confirmed because the UN Security Council voted 15-0 on new sanctions against the Hermit Kingdom. Even China did not exercise its veto. This means the U.S. possessed enough foreign policy capital–carrots and sticks–to achieve this result. No small achievement.



If the world did not take seriously North Korea’s ability and lack of inhibition to conduct a bloody war, there would be no sanctions. Dealing with North Korea can be profitable to those without a moral guardrail.

That being said, the world should also take President Trump’s statement–incendiary as it was–very seriously. Literally and seriously.

He has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said they will be met with the fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before. Thank you.

Here’s what Donald Trump believes about nuclear weapons. He said this in 1990.

I’ve always thought about the issue of nuclear war; it’s a very important element in my thought process. It’s the ultimate, the ultimate catastrophe, the biggest problem this world has, and nobody’s focusing on the nuts and bolts of it. It’s a little like sickness. People don’t believe they’re going to get sick until they do. Nobody wants to talk about it. I believe the greatest of all stupidities is people’s believing it will never happen, because everybody knows how destructive it will be, so nobody uses weapons. What bullshit.

Surely Kim Jong-un knows Trump believes this. It would be folly for him to consider attacking the U.S. with a man in the White House who fully expects to live to see nuclear Armageddon–or be the one to prevent it.

Therefore, what Trump said is perfectly consistent with what Trump believes.



However, what retired US Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney said to Fox News Money is inconceivably stupid.

“If he gets our full nuclear retaliatory capability, within minutes after one round going into Seoul, there will be nothing left,” McInerney told Fox’s Liz Claman on “Countdown to the Closing Bell.”

“If you go to Airborne Alert—we used to call it “Chrome Dome”—with nuclear weapons and then we start building up our other forces, et cetera, he will not last 15 minutes,” said McInerney.

Thankfully, McInerney is no longer on active duty (nor should he ever be again, after this); and the U.S. doesn’t need to go to “Chrome Dome” like this was 1962.

One Ohio class Trident submarine is enough to destroy North Korea. Each sub (we’ve got at least 2 to 4 at any given time within range of the Norks) carries 24 Trident D5 missiles, each missile with up to 14 W88 or W76 (475 kiloton and 100 kiloton respectively) MIRVed warheards. The missiles do not require GPS signal to find their targets–so jamming is out.

In short: one sub can deliver 33 times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb to 14 individual targets, with a total of over 6 megatons of “fire and fury.” There’d be nothing left of North Korea and the living would envy the dead.

Of course, this would also scatter radiation all over South Korea, China, and Japan, who would be our forever enemies after Armageddon. Therefore, it’s stupid beyond belief to bring it up like McInerney did.

So what was Trump talking about?

There are many options in the U.S. arsenal short of nuclear weapons. We have B-2 bombers, F-22 stealth fighters, sea launched cruise missiles, and other classified weapons that would do incredible damage to North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities. And it would happen before the Norks knew what hit them.

They know this. Kim’s hole card is that if we do it, he’ll launch 4,000 artillery pieces with chemical weapons at Seoul, threatening 11 million lives (in addition to other cities along the DMZ). If Kim attacks Seoul, does the U.S. then go nuclear first? Probably not.

But Trump is betting we wouldn’t have to. He’s betting that we have enough of a first punch to keep the North from going into Armageddon. He’s also believing that the threat of “just crazy” will keep them from crossing a threshold from which they can’t pull back.

Again, remember we have a president who believes nuclear war isn’t something to be feared, but to be understood and conquered. The man plays everything to win. His unbelievable hubris and uninformed spontaneity may be what has pulled the Security Council into new sanctions.

Will it be enough to keep Kim from calling his bluff?

We need to hope so, because both of these men need to be taken very, very seriously and at their word.