Posts Tagged National Security
WHO WILL DONALD TRUMP HAND-OFF THE MOST DANGEROUS PROBLEM CONFRONTING THE WORLD TODAY? NORTH KOREA! WILL IT BE R. C. McMASTER, OR STEVE BANNON?
North Korea’s nuclear arms have advanced beyond the primitive state. Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un now has real nukes, and he is in the process of improving the range and accuracy of his missiles, while continuing to miniaturize the warheads to extend the range. And then, he will be ready to build an arsenal!
China does not want to place anymore political pressure on its failed neighbor; because, that would cause millions of destitute North Koreans to stream across its border, and Beijing would then have to care for the refugees. Additionally, an invasion would also set-up a potentially disastrous confrontation with the United States.
In a webcast discussion, between Robert Litwak, Vice President at the Wilson Center, and one of the world’s foremost authorities on North Korea, and NY Times National Security Correspondent David Sanger, the topic was “Preventing North Korea’s Nuclear Break-Out.” The proximity of U. S. Forces, both in South Korea and nearby Japan, along with our allies, turns a potential confrontation with China into a powder keg.
Mr. Litwak suggested, during the discussion, that the likely options—all bad ones—are: “bomb, negotiate, or acquiesce… “ Bombing, which would usually be followed by a ground attack, would merely anger China, and would draw them into the war. Beijing certainly doesn’t want the U. S. Military just across their border, nor would we want theirs! That would leave two intolerable situations: facing an unlimited Chinese force, virtually in their backyard; or going nuclear. Either way, we would not want to see that scenario play out!
Acquiescence is also a terrible option. North Korea’s Supreme Leader, 33 year-old Kim Jong-Un runs a dynastic dictatorship and, judging by the living conditions that his people must endure, he seems to care little about them.
So, if we merely allow Mr. Kim to maintain the status quo, he will surely begin considering his next move—going even more bellicose. The North Korean “Leader” is unstable, and cannot be trusted. And don’t count on regime change; because, Kim has already eliminated the prior military leaders, and replaced them with his generals.
This leaves us with the only one acceptable option: to negotiate some sort of Iran-like Nuclear Agreement—along with, say, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia. Similar to the Iran Deal, North Korea must be required to: dismantle its nuclear program and ship, say 95% of the plutonium and centrifuges out of the country, perhaps to China, before the negotiations even begin.
There must be a slight easing of restrictions initially, mostly for humanitarian purposes, and the IAEA must be able to make unannounced inspections. The negotiating team, and perhaps others, must provide North Korea with increasingly necessary supplies. The DMZ, between North and South Korea, should be widened, from two and a-half. to 20 miles. At least, that will eliminate offensive broadcasts and sniper fire, back and forth, between the two korean armies.
The one immediate question that comes to mind is: would Donald Trump agree to an Agreement similar to the one that President Obama, and five other nations, entered into with Iran? So far, Trump has appeared to be intent on eliminating anything that Obama had accomplished. Yesterday, Secretary of State Rex Tellerson said that the U. S. might consider a pre-emptive attack on Pyongyang, rather than a retaliatory attack. That concerns me!
I believe that National Security Advisor, R. C. McMaster, and Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, might agree to the merits of a Nuclear Agreement, similar to the one with Iran. Secretary Tellerson, however, the former CEO of Exxon-Mobil, is a veritable novice when it comes to National Security. So far, Donald Trump has been more willing to hand-off the most important problems to the loyalists among his Regime Staff. Steve Bannon? OMG!
Donald Trump is now our, what used to be called “Fearless Leader”; however, since January 20th, I believe that a majority of Americans are now, indeed, Fearful—of him, and what he might do! Over the decades, many crises have presented themselves to the Free World and, as has often been the case, America had been expected to play a key leadership role. We have always been willing to step forward, and confront the problem with sound ideas, good people, capable allies and, in most cases, we were successful!
Consider the following crises that the U. S. has been faced with:
1. The ICBM stand-off that we engaged in, with the Soviet Union, during the Yom-Kippur War of 1973.
2. The Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, when jet airliners flew into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and brave passengers crashed a fourth jet into a field in rural Western Pennsylvania.
3. The Great Recession of 2008 which threatened the American, and probably the Global Economy.
4. The 2013 Ebola Virus outbreak, in West Africa, which could have turned into a global pandemic.
When President Richard Nixon was drinking heavily during the Watergate Era, Henry Kissinger and James Schlesinger stepped-in and averted a potential nuclear war in 1973. During the terrorist attacks of 9/11, a group of dedicated Americans, spread throughout the Government, managed to keep things from getting worse. Presidents Bush’s (43) and Obama’s respective Fed/Treasury Teams took the heat and kept the dire 2008 financial crisis contained. And, President Obama provided funds, and sent people from CDC and the U. S. Army to assist in turning-back the deadly Ebola Virus.
Those crises occurred during both Republican and Democratic Administrations, and the various teams of national security, military, financial, law enforcement, and medical experts—and so much, much more—all rose to the occasion. They brought experience, rational thought, a spirit of cooperation and a willingness to put-in long hours, and get the job done. Today, with the Trump Regime in power, I just don’t get that feeling of comfort.
When I consider the various people that Donald Trump has appointed to key posts, I don’t see much in the way of strong leadership and management skills. I see ideological biases, loyalists, power-players and mostly those with histories of attacking the very departments that they are supposed to be leading. Political connections will mean nothing when a dangerous crisis erupts—and perhaps much different from the ones noted above.
I only feel comfortable with a few of the key people who should be in a position to advise Donald Trump on National Security Matters: H. R. McMaster, his National Security Advisor; James Mattis, Secretary of Defense, and Fiona Hill, NSC Advisor on Russia. With Trump, however, the question is whether he will really listen to them? Trump’s history of attacking the intelligence Community on numerous occasions sure doesn’t instill much confidence.
During past crises, the people who were heading the Crisis Command Centers had the President’s ear. The only way that a government, with a large bureaucracy, can respond in a major crisis situation, is for those who are leading the response to truly feel trusted and empowered. But, that’s just not Trump’s style!
OK, OK! Don’t get excited. But, I do believe that Donald Trump has made a great point! A really good one, for ONCE! And, let’s get this whole mess over with at one time! If President Barack Obama were, indeed, tapping the phone lines at Trump Tower, he was surely trying to prove that the Trump Campaign, and then the Trump Transition Team, had been cozying-up to Vladimir Putin, and his Russian Goon Squad!
Director James Comey, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has suggested that the investigation be scrapped, since a President cannot direct wire taps. He claims that electronic surveillance now requires the approval of the FISA Court, which was established by the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act of 1978. That Act was passed, following the GOP’s Watergate Break-in of the Democratic National Committee.
Let’s expand the wire tape investigation; however, and appoint a Special Investigator, just like when the Republicans went after President Bill Clinton. Also, as Judge Ken Starr did at that time, let’s expand the Investigation to determine both: what role President Obama had in those illegal wire taps, and also to eliminate this Russo-Trumpian Conspiracy Theory, which has been hanging around for just too damn long! But, Donald, this was a great stroke of genius on your part: demanding a Special Investigator.
Oh, by the way, in order to get this whole investigation started-off, please forward a copy of the Report and the Intelligence that you have available. They surely will be invaluable to determining Obama’s fate. And that way, you can get back to doing the People’s Business–Making America Great Again!
I’m sure that some people would find the “Books that I recommend” list much easier to use if everything were organized into quite distinct categories, such as: Politics; History; Science—or, at least, Fiction and Non-Fiction. But, that’s not how my mind works. It’s just too cluttered!
Consider the most recent addition (and yesterday’s post): “Three Days in January”. President Eisenhower left the Presidency 57 years ago; but the real story, I believe, is a combination of: World War II and Early Cold War History; reflections back to our Founding Fathers, and what their intentions were, with regard to the Constitution; contrasts of the Leadership styles between Ike and JFK, and the lack thereof with Trump. and, lastly, the peril which the Military Industrial Complex might present today, especially in the hands of a Fool. Now tell me, how would you categorize that NY Times Best-Seller?
“Freeman” is a well-researched historical novel about Racism in post-Civil War rural Mississippi. That book, not only depicts the reality of how both blacks and whites regarded one another, at the time; but, it also provides some insight as to Racism, as it is today in America today, and particularly, in the rural South.
“Moneybag” is nominally a book about baseball; but, it is really more about the use of statistics in player personnel management. The Oakland A’s had one of the very smallest budgets in Major League Baseball; however, for a time, they compiled better Win-Loss records than all but a few of the league’s 30 teams. The A’s realized that some of the more pedestrian statistics, such as: on-base average; total bases and “small ball”, won more games than often considerations: physical looks: home runs and fielding. For the owners, that approach was more “cost-effective”.
Statistics has also played an increasingly important role in general decision-making theory. Much of what is pointed-out, by Michael Lewis, the author of “Moneyball”, is based on the insight of the two Israeli Psychologists, who are his main subjects in “The Undoing Project”. Those psychologists won the Nobel Prize for, get this, Economics, in 2003. Their research has led to: the creation of the new field of Behavioral Economics; revolutionized Big-Data studies; advanced evidence-based medicine, and helped rationalize government regulation.
NOTE: If anyone can devise an algorithm, which will organize my “Books That I Recommend” tab, please send me the “For Idiots” version, so that it can install itself.
Although Health Care and Immigration are currently receiving the bulk of the media coverage—and rightfully so—I am gravely concerned about our National Security, as well. Donald Trump didn’t create the current situation; however, under his Regime, he can only make it worse! I am referring to the informal, even frivolous manner in which America wages war today, and Congress has apparently ceded that responsibility, over past decades, to the Executive Branch.
Only Congress is authorized to Declare War, under the U. S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8), and that Authority cannot be delegated. Beginning with Vietnam, our wars have been entered into in a most informal manner, and generally for spurious reasons. When we send men, and now women, to War, it should only be when America or its allies are in danger, when all else has been tried, and with the complete support of the American People!
I was one of those pawns who went to Vietnam, in the 1960s, for dubious participation in someone else’s civil war. It began when 3,500 Marines were deployed in 1965, and it grew to a massive army of 500,000 Americans, at its highest point. And, for every infantry “Grunt”, there were four (like me) who were not in the actual fight.
Perhaps, worst of all, it was an Open-Ended War, with no means of knowing if and when our side won or lost. We didn’t win! As North Vietnamese Special Envoy, Le Duc Tho, told Henry Kissinger, after the Paris Peace Talks in 1973: “You won the battles, but you lost the War!”
Then, in 2001 why did President George W. Bush send an initial 35,000 American troops into Afghanistan, assumedly to kill or capture one man—Osama bin Laden? As usual, too large a force is counter-productive. And, the extra men did, in fact, get into trouble!
Bush also allowed the (Dick) Cheney-(Donald) Rumsfeld Cabal to fabricate the need to invade Iraq in 2003. “Rummy” and Company forced the Army Chief-of-Staff, General Eric Shinseki, to retire. Then, they overruled the Generals, by forcing an inconsistent “Battle Plan”, to wage war on the cheap. In that situation, politics trumped protocol and experience, and this sets the stage for the, perhaps even more dangerous Donald Trump Regime.
The failed raid, in Yemen on January 29, which took the life of one Navy SEAL (husband and father), and caused the deaths of numerous Yemenis, was ordered and carried-out prematurely, and with insufficient Intelligence. So far, Trump has shown a preference for loyalty, over experience and competence.
In fact, Donald Trump has rebuked our Intelligence Community on numerous occasions. And more recently, he appointed Steve Bannon, his Chief Political Strategist, as a permanent member of the National Security Council. In essence, Donald Trumps appears to be politicizing National Security–and that can be dangerous!
Given the current insane manner in which the U. S. wages War, Congress must, at a minimum: re-affirm its sole discretion to Declare War; formalize the process through an actual Declaration of War; require the National Security Advisor and the Secretary of Defense to consult with both Houses of Congress, to review a fully drawn-up Battle Plan, before a declaration is even voted on; and lastly re-enact the Military Draft—without any deferments, whatsoever—as a means for the entire Nation to share in the Burden of War, including the children of Congress, as well as those of all of America!
NOTE: A prior blog post, “Re-Enact the Military Draft!”, provides a more detailed explanation of how the Draft might serve to deter Congress from declaring questionable Wars of Convenience, and to insure the engagement of the American People.
As I watched his Campaign Rally, this afternoon, from Melbourne, Florida, I can only say that Donald J. Trump has, indeed, gone stark raving Mad! Yes, that’s right—he’s campaigning for President, and continuing to spew divisiveness! Just the fact that someone, who has only been in office for one month, and has demonstrated quite clearly that he is incompetent, and in way over his head, is already out campaigning for “Four More Years!”
This has got to be initiated within the Republican Party, as I suggested in a recent post, because they control both Houses of Congress. Congress is the Branch of Government, which is authorized to oversea the President and, frankly, Trump and his entire staff need to go! Donald Trump, who apparently has never encountered discipline or oversight, has been acting as if he is above the Law, as well as the Constitution. And anyone who has stood by, enabling such behavior, is complicit in the danger that he represents for America.
Several days ago, while holding a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump not only made derogatory comments about an election that was more than three months past; but, he also defended the National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, who he had only fired a couple of days before. Also, rumors abound that, at least one of Flynn’s former deputies, from when he was fired by the Army in 2014, might still be working on the National Security Council Staff.
Our allies and trading partners, around-the-world, seem to be planning for a period in which America is no longer a close friend. He offended Australia, one of our closest allies, both in the Pacific and the Middle East, when he made an offensive, and rude, telephone call to Prime Minister Turnbull. He failed to comprehend America’s long-time One-China Policy, when he called the President of Taiwan. And, virtually all of South America is siding with Mexico, and forging closer ties with European and Asian trading Partners.
The most ignorant tactic that Trump has attempted so far, however, is how he is treating Europe—somewhat like a piñata. Both V. P. Michael Pence and Secretary of Defense, James Matthis, have been attending a meeting of European Defense Ministers, this past several days. When they reaffirm America’s support for NATO, but make no mention of the European Union, it can make one wonder—don’t they know that many of the members of one, also belong to the other?
Up to a point, anyone can say that new Administration commonly have different Plans; but, with the Trump Regime, there doesn’t appear to be any concrete Plan! Admiral Robert Harvard reportedly turned-down the role of National Security Advisor, since he couldn’t name his own staff. However, word also got out that he made-up his mind after watching Trump’s press conference, yesterday, in which he vehemently attacked the Media. General David Petreus also reportedly insists on naming his own staff, if appointed. And, let’s not forget that Trump has politicized the NSC by naming Steve Bannon, his Chief Political Strategist, to it–as a Permanent Member!
Considering all of this nonsense—disruption within the West Wing, the Lying Game, attacking the Media, favoring Loyalty over Competence, and paying tribute to a fired National Security risk—that just sets the stage for utter chaos! When someone forgets that he put the car keys in the freezer, or walks two blocks from home and doesn’t know where she is, its time for an Intervention. Well, with Donald Trump already on the campaign trails, let’s Intervene before he loses the Keys to the Nuclear Arsenal!
Last night, as I was turning-off my computer, I noticed that one of my visitors had read the following post, from the eve of the 70th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion. That Landing turned the tide in World War II. Afterward, the Allies, on both sides of the Atlantic, worked so hard to create an everlasting Alliance, which has promoted Peace through Economic Cooperation ever since.
I wish that Donald Trump, and like-minded demagogues, across the Atlantic, would visit Normandy, sit on that bench (mentioned in the poetic Reuters article) and reflect on what might have been–if the Allies had lost that War!
Many of the Western Leaders will gather at Normandy, France this Friday to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Landings, by American, British and Canadian Forces, on June 6, 1944. Those Landings–at a considerable loss of Young Lives–turned the tide in World War II. The Survivors from that Fateful Day–at least those who can still travel–will be there, as well. Since they are now in their 90s, however, this will probably be their last chance to commemorate that Day–and honor their fallen comrades.
The linked article, by Alexandria Sage, from Reuters, provides a touching description of what goes on at the several Cemeteries (American, British and Canadian), day-in, and day-out. Although this article is specific to the American Cemetery, the same care and devotion is given the burial places of the other Allied Heroes, as well. Be sure to read this most touching, poetic story: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/30/us-d-day-cemetery-idUSKBN0EA1CH20140530,
As I read Ms. Sage’s article, it makes me think of those splendid words from President Abraham Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg, Pa., some eighty years before, when he said: “…The World will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but can never forget what they did here…” The story of the successive generations of French who have cared for the Gravesides is quite enthralling, and reflects the love and devotion which they provide.