The Red Line Has Been Drawn: WWIII or Obama 2.0?

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen… he has been very threatening beyond a normal statement. They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

This threat, issued by President Trump at his golf resort today at his Bedminster, New Jersey resort came on the heels of reports that the DIA believes North Korea is on the verge of the technology necessary for placing a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile.

Within a couple of hours, North Korea announced that it is developing an operational plan for hitting Guam with ballistic missiles. And this morning, they threatened the US mainland with nuclear war.

So, in other words, President Trump drew a red line, and North Korea promptly crossed it. Did he mean it? Will he follow through? How will he explain we all got it wrong? What rationalization will we translate into Korean, so they don’t misunderstand future rhetoric?

This is what we warned y’all about. I find no joy in being proven right.

My thoughts:

First of all, is “power” different than “fire and fury?”

Yeah, I know it seems petty… He’s never been articulate, and loves multiple descriptors. But, I think it’s reasonable to measure possibly historic threats from world leaders against the thesaurus-stretching sales pitch of used car lots. After all, North Korea will be dissecting every word, as will be every other national security apparatus across the world. Words matter. And if “fire and fury” do not already mean “powerful,” what do they mean? And what would qualify as frankly, “power?” We are talking about the potential for starting World War III here. I think it’s fair to ask follow up questions.

Second, the world has “seen” a nuclear bomb. We have “seen” the invasion of Normandy by 156,000 troops.

So, are we about to blow North Korea into the third millennium? Are we going to invade with 250,000 men? We haven’t seen that. If we don’t, aren’t we now weaker than when president Obama failed to act on his red line in Syria? And if we don’t, hasn’t Trump now proven himself weaker than Obama? Forget the irony of his campaign rhetoric on the “red line”… Is this really where we want to go as a nation?

Third, why are Tillerson, Haley and Trump all saying different things? Why is there no cohesion of message between them?

These things matter in geopolitics, especially when it involves military action, and worse, atomic explosions that can wipe out millions of people at a time.  I am glad to hear that HR McMaster is arriving at Bedminster later this week. But, I wish he was there now. I wish general Mattis was there as well. I don’t want war. I also don’t want the threat of North Korea looming over us, my friends or family, here or in Guam. I trust these generals as men who have stood up against aimless warmongers in the past. I do not trust my president.

Whatever the answers to these questions, which will be asked and answered by people smarter than me in the days and weeks ahead, it must be determined if China is going to help keep the world from chaos, or allow an armed circus to alter history.

In an interview last night, Lt Gen Mark Hertling (ret.) pointed out that the biggest effect of president Trump’s rhetoric was the loss of options. I fear that short of a diplomatic miracle, we now only have two remaining.

I have every confidence in our military men, women and those in direct leadership of them. But I do not have the same peace about the civilian entity commanding them in or out of battle.

The only silver lining on today’s events is that the president didn’t tweet his ominous threat. And it depresses me that I find relief in that.


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Ed Willing

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