Posts Tagged National Security
Have you ever noticed the various similarities between the two narcissistic bullies—Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump? Both are obese, have birds’ nest hair-dos, and seem to walk around endlessly, clapping at nothing.
The 33 year-old Kim, by the way, really is a twin; however, he is believed to have had his brother assassinated at the Singapore International Airport earlier this year. So much for brotherly love!
Both “Leaders” (using the word quite loosely) seem to focus on advancing their own status, rather than doing what is best for their respective countries. Kim exhausts most of North Korea’s resources on the Weapons of War, as the starving, impoverished North Koreans have been totally destitute for decades.
And, the 71 year-old Donald seems hell bent on eradicating the legacy of former President Barack Obama, America’s first Black President. Rather than focus on his promised major policies, Trump has created a Regime, which has operated through chaos and disruption, ever since he took office.
Trump, more so than Kim, has apparently escalated the stand-off between the two nations. He seems to have misinterpreted North Korea, which merely stated that it would launch a missile “near Guam.” Neither nuclear missiles, nor Guam were cited as part of the launch in the North’s announcement. Also, if Kim really did want to attack the U. S., wouldn’t he have targeted San Francisco, Seattle or, at least, Honolulu?
Kim, is also not the brightest light bulb in the box. Most recently, he claimed that Trump was trying to initiate a Nuclear War in advance of his currant Asian Trip. Now, since Trump’s first three stops—Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing—are all close to any potential Nuclear Fallout, it seems that Supreme Leader Kim seems to be trying to match Donald Trump in the Lunacy Game.
Both Kim and Trump appear to thrive on power, and saber-rattling is their way of demonstrating it! And neither one seems to care about the innocent civilians—both at home and in other nations—who might perish from it!
Donald Trump ignorantly said that former Presidents did not telephone the families who lost sons and daughters in hostel action, while serving their country. That, of course is an outright lie! All former Presidents have called or written the families, and many have specifically held functions for the so-called “Gold Star” Families at the White House. But, telling such lies has become routine for Donald Trump.
Over the past week, once again, Trump was bitten by his own version of “fake facts.” He had to be prodded to call the families of four Special Forces sergeants, who were ambushed and killed in Niger. Thus, Donald Trump has once again created a mess; which, given the question of faulty intelligence, has blown the whole Niger issue way out of proportion.
Chief-of-Staff John F. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine General thus entered the fray. General Kelly has known the heartache over military troops killed in battle, from both sides: his own son, Marine First Lieutenant Robert M. Kelly died in battle, in Afghanistan, nine years ago; also, he has walked among the gravestones at the Arlington National Cemetery, knowing that some of those men died, following his orders.
Since the details of the recent blow-up have been endlessly covered by the media, I will not go there. The question that I ask, however, is: When Chief-of-Staff Kelly inserted himself into this brouhaha, was he speaking as a father and a former general, or was he acting as one of Donald Trump’s closest advisors? Kelly had always preferred to keep his family’s loss out of the media, since one soldier’s life is as valuable as any other; however, Trump brought it up assumedly for his own thoughtless purposes.
In a prior post, I cited the fact that several recent Presidents—Kennedy, Johnson and Bush 43—virtually disregarded the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And with Donald Trump, having three generals who answer directly to him—Chief-of-Staff John Kelly, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster—the role of the JCS, in offering military planning and ideas, would be totally up to Mattis. That is, however, if Trump listened to anyone!
Originally, all three of the generals appeared to provide their own advice to Trump, rather than just telling him what he had wanted to hear. Currently, however, by getting involved in this latest flair-up, it appears that John Kelly has taken on the role of answering for the Chief. After 43 years of serving his country, how much longer can General Kelly stomach defending Donald Trump?
It is common knowledge that Iran finances terrorists and terrorist organizations! There is little doubt, if any, about that fact.
The major nuclear powers, (U. S., China, Russia, Germany, France and the U. K.), referred to as the “P+5,” negotiated with Iran to curtail its nuclear program in return for the lifting of economic sanctions. The Agreement was finally agreed upon—with Iran downgrading most of its enriched uranium, shipping 95% of the centrifuges to a third country, and enabling the IAEA to monitor its activities and make unannounced inspections. The Agreement was finally signed on November 24, 2015.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had told the U. N. General Assembly, in a speech on November 27, 2012, that Iran was within two or three months of having a nuclear bomb. And then again, in a March 3, 2015, address to a Joint Session of the U. S. Congress, he said that the Iran deal “would all but guarantee that Iran gets [nuclear] weapons, lots of them.” Of course, Mr. Netanyahu did not mention that Israel has had a nuclear weapons arsenal for three decades.
Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, stated that such an agreement would be a positive move. The Saudis are the de facto leader of the more moderate Muslims in the Middle East; however, they also finance extremist factions and terrorism.
Given the length of time involved in addressing just this one—obviously most important—problem, there was no way for the nuclear powers to work-out an all-inclusive solution to all of its contentions with Iran. Accordingly, those other dangerous activities are not part of the Nuclear Agreement.
The Republicans in Congress had never favored the Nuclear Agreement, and when (then) Speaker John Boehner invited Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress, they didn’t even pay sitting President Barack Obama the courtesy of an advisory phone call. Neither did Prime Minister Netanyahu even call to suggest a short visit with Mr. Obama.
Once again, Donald Trump appears ignorant of the importance of keeping Iran from having nuclear weapons, and he cannot understand why its other activities would have to be handled separately. Additionally, while Iran’s nuclear arms program might be somewhat narrow in scope, its many other offensive activities reach far and wide, and certainly could not be dealt with all at one time.
As usual, Donald Trump appears to have learned nothing during his nine months in office. Secretaries Rex Tillerson, of State and James Mattis, of Defense, Chief of Staff John Kelly, and the Joint Chief’s of Staff had all recommended that Trump not change the Iran Nuclear Agreement. Trump, however, apparently ignored that expert advice, and he just might go along with what he had proclaimed on the campaign trail, several years ago!
Besides the “Vietnam” TV Documentary, by Ken Burns and Lynn Novice, there have been many books, recent articles and blog posts, about this Horrible Mistake, which was characterized by lies and mismanagement, both among the Civilian and Military Leadership. Result: our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, have lasted even longer–and with no end in sight!
We’re forever scarred by the Vietnam War, and the lies | Opinion
The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board gives their parting thoughts for Monday, September 25, 2017.
We were right about all of it. The wildest, most paranoid-seeming accusations about our leaders turned out to be true.
The Vietnam War was insane. Various presidents lied to us over and over. Nixon added being a crooked, traitorous weasel. We should never have been there. Never.
Watching Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s “The Vietnam War” isn’t easy — at least not for this old man. There is a tragic heroism, even nobility and wisdom, on the part of soldiers and marines who gave all, only to learn that it was in support of cheap slogans and plain bullheaded stupidity. There is also the soul-ripping tragedy that affected generations of Vietnamese and Americans, inflicting and suffering inhuman brutality.
The politicians lied. The generals lied. Both lied to keep their jobs, not for any nobler reason. Others lied to make a bloodstained buck. War can be very profitable, for those who provide the makings and for the self-dealing crooks we backed in the despised and corrupt South Vietnamese government.
Fifty-eight thousand Americans (and god knows how many Vietnamese) died. More than 21,000 of those Americans were killed after the American people bought Nixon’s smokescreen about his “secret plan to end the war” and elected him president. All along, he was scheming to sabotage peace for his selfish ambition.
It was insane to believe that we exceptional Americans would be “fighting for freedom” by stifling the Vietnamese battle for independence. It was equally crazy to deny the evidence that the war had never gone well and never would. It was bat guano nuts to have gone there in the first place because guys in nice suits gravely intoned something scary about “communists.”
My generation is forever marked by Vietnam, no matter what we did during its pollution of our politics. Whether we were in harm’s way fighting as volunteers or draftees in Vietnam or were protesters hated, beaten and even killed, we bear the scars. In some ways we will never know where some of those scars are. Lyndon Johnson’s domestic programs and civil rights initiatives, so impressive in the beginning, were sacrificed to the war. Everyone lost faith in the government.
It was insane to believe that we exceptional Americans would be “fighting for freedom” by stifling the Vietnamese battle for independence. May this documentary give our children and grandchildren the knowledge they need to reject liars and those scoundrels who cynically exploit the patriotism of all Americans and the innocent courage of the young.
All these years later, the “best and brightest” have been replaced. We have two more endless wars. Instead of fearing that the reds will be in downtown Fort Lauderdale by sunset, many of us are buying the hogwash that a bunch of fringe maniacs in the desert will. Or North Koreans. Or Mexicans. Or football players. There are always bogeymen. We can always find someone to fear.
Now that the worst and dumbest are in charge, the orange grifter comes up with new bogeymen, seemingly daily. Instead of solemn humbug about falling dominoes, we get crazy schoolyard bleats about foreign leaders who may be as unstable as our own. Instead of worrying about communists on the march, we get to worry about whether former communists gamed our election. Instead of being lied to in complete sentences, we’re lied to in 140 characters.
None of that is an improvement.
Richard Aregood is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer in Sioux Falls, S.D., and a former editorial page editor of the Philadelphia Daily News and The Star Ledger of Newark, N.J.
Copyright © 2017, Sun Sentinel
During the Vietnam War, America only halfheartedly attempted to engage the Viet Cong guerrillas and the North Vietnamese Army in Guerrilla, or Unconventional Warfare. Generally, however, the American Battle Plan called for Conventional Warfare, to take advantage of our technologically superior firepower. That doesn’t necessarily work against a more primitive adversary, however, that prefers to engage only on its terms. This is, in effect, somewhat of a David and Goliath mismatch!
After Vietnam, the U. S. Military has had an aversion to unconventional warfare. Although we have participated in numerous military engagements since then, I will focus on our three longest wars—Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. The tank battle against Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard in 1991, and occasional confrontations with ISIS today have been conventional, in that the two armies faced each other head-on. Those battles were short-lived, however, and not against comparable firepower.
Weaker insurgent and military forces, with little more than rifles and the occasional bazooka, would be insane to confront a major military power head-on. Rather, they break-up into small groups and peck away at the more organized, larger foe. Keep in mind that our infantry is weighed-down with 70-to-100 pounds of gear, as were the Soviets in Afghanistan and Chechnya—and they suffered the same fate!
The small groups can scatter and hide, blend in with the local populace, or lure the superior force into cities, thus eliminating the value of the artillery and air bombardment. Also, major forces, which move in large groups can find difficulty traversing jungles, mountains and deserts. Infantry that usually deploys in armored personnel carriers (lightly armored, tracked vehicles) or helicopters, may be at a loss when their vehicles are halted by terrain, triple canopy jungle foliage or sandstorms.
When a large foreign army enters another country, it is usually regarded as an Invading Force. Also, our propping-up corrupt governments merely compounds the situation. The South Vietnamese government, which we installed, was composed of Roman Catholics who fled the North; however, that offended the predominantly Chinese Buddhists in the South. Then, the George W. Bush Administration replaced Saddam Hussein’s secular government with Shia Muslims who returned from self-exile in Iran, and embroiled the country into an on-going Shia-Sunni religious war. Afghanistan has always been just lines on a map, with more Afghan’s aligned with tribal or ethnic groups in neighboring countries than their own nation.
In most cases, America engages in these wars against countries that never attacked us or our allies, merely for economic or political reasons. Both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon used Vietnam as tools to be re-elected. After the Tet (Chinese Lunar New Year) Offensive in January of 1968, the war was ostensibly lost, and national sentiment had shifted against it. Nixon kept it going, however, until January of 1973 in order to boost his re-election chances. George W. Bush also used the two wars in the Middle East to boost his re-election chances in 2004.
In war, if you’re not winning, you’re losing! Last June, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a retired Marine General, told a Congressional Committee that we are not winning the War in Afghanistan. After 14 years, I certainly believe that the same could be said for Iraq. But, if we continue insisting on fighting the wrong type of war, we will never win wars outright again!
Unconventional warfare just enables the weaker adversary to eliminate the strengths of the superior military power. And, as the equalizer effect kicks-in, the one remaining difference is that our enemy is fighting for a cause, while our troops barely know why they are there!
NOTE: Many times over the years, I have wondered how many lives were lost—on both sides—during that five year period in which the war was essentially lost. Even from the start, it was one huge, costly mistake!
The protest music, during the Vietnam War, was quite cogent. The linked song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”, as performed by Peter, Paul and Mary in that era, has always been one of my favorites. I believe that it reflects the never-ending insanity of Warfare. A different version of the performance, by a much older Peter, Paul and Mary, playing to a packed audience of senior citizen–singing, clapping and dancing with their grandchildren–can be found on the Internet.
Considering the way Diplomacy is being handled by the Trump Regime, its easy to understand why the rest of the world seems to view the goings on at the White House as being somewhat haphazard, at best. America presents itself to the world through its diplomacy, starting with the President and his State Department. With Donald Trump, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; however, its more or less: Here we are!
Prior to January, Secretary Tillerson was the CEO of Exxon-Mobil. And, If his heart is not still back in the Oil Patch, it’s certainly not into diplomacy! In Donald Trump’s original budget proposal, he had intended to slash the State Department by 31%, and Tillerson didn’t raise Holy Hell! Such acquiescence doesn’t show the leadership that one would expect from a former Captain of Industry—let alone from our Nation’s Top Diplomat!
The most vexing problem with America’s Foreign Policy today centers on the mis-handling of the situation in North Korea. Presidents Xi Jinping, of China, and Vladimir Putin, of Russia, appear more “presidential” than Mr. Trump, in that they have a better grasp of the overall situation. The potential implications of each participating nation’s actions must clearly be considered. But with Trump and Tillerson, the potential explosiveness of the Korean Peninsula seems to be disregarded.
Most importantly, America needs to speak with one voice, preferably that of an experienced diplomat, who can assume ownership of the problem in order to arrive at a peaceful solution. The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is much too important not to give it our complete and undivided attention!
Over the past five months, the Trump Regime has been alternating one person after another, to speak for the U. S; but, without any one person with experience to assume the overall responsibility. And, spurious comments and Tweets by Donald Trump have only escalated the problem to a whole new level.
In his book, “One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the brink of nuclear war,” Michael Dobbs corrected the general presumption that Kennedy and Khrushchev were engaged in a cat and mouse game during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Since his book was only published in 2008, however, Dobbs had access to previously unavailable documents from all three nations.
As it turned out, both President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev realized, once they had deployed their respective military forces, that they couldn’t insure that the stand-off wouldn’t escalate into a potential nuclear Armageddon. Luckily, the two rational leaders avoided such a possibility! Castro, on the other hand, preached Death with Honor!
Where is our capable diplomat, who can assess the actual intent of North Korea’s original communique, which stated that it would only fire missiles “near Guam,” and there was no threat of a nuclear weapon? A single capable and dedicated envoy would have attempted to interpret what that message really meant! Surely, Kim Jong-Un knew that, if he targets the U. S. or an ally, North Korea would be totally annihilated. Also, if Kim was truly seriously about striking America, wouldn’t he have targeted, let’s say, San Francisco, Seattle or, at least, Honolulu?
America needs a diplomat—a real one—to take charge of solving this problem, and see it through to a final solution. Ignorant comments about “locked and loaded,” and threatening to impede the North’s energy supplies—especially with the harsh North Korean winter approaching—would just lead to mass disruption on the Peninsula. We need that experienced envoy now—to engage with North Korea, along with all interested parties.
As President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev realized: No one wins when we all lose!
Danny Westneat is a columnist for the Seattle Times. This column is a wonderfully written story about a husband and wife team–he a Soldier, and she a Riveter (fastening B-29 wings)–who are members of “Our Greatest Generation.” And, as the Matz’ question, with Donald Trump, do we truly have the commitment to insure that the Supremacists, Neo-Nazis and other Hate Groups do not succeed this time? In essence, Silence is NOT golden!
‘Greatest generation’ is fading, but it’s still got choice words for our own
Remember the greatest generation? The ones that beat back the Nazis?
Recently I sat down with two of them, to talk about everyday persistence, about stability, about things that abide.
But we weren’t five minutes in when it veered in the exact opposite direction — to the rise of neo-Nazis in the news today, the demagoguery of a certain president and to an eerily familiar chill.
“I remember back in the ’30s and ’40s, it was like people were hypnotized,” says Wilma Matz, 93. “I worry all the time it might be happening again.”
Numerically speaking, Wilma and Harold Matz are rarer around here than the endangered northern spotted owl.
At 95, Harold is a World War II vet, a medical technician who pulled the maimed off the line of the war’s bloodiest fight, the Battle of the Bulge.
All but 3 percent of his 16 million mates who beat back fascism are gone. The greatest generation has dwindled to just 0.2 percent of the American population.
Even rarer, Wilma was a Rosie the Riveter. She drove fasteners into the wings of B-29 bombers for Boeing in the 1940s, one of 300,000 bandana-wearing women who came out of housewifery to take over the nation’s airplane-factory work. Only about 10,000 Rosies are still alive today.
Then there’s this: As of Wednesday, the couple has been married 75 years. Fewer than 0.1 percent of all marriages in America are so enduring.
“It’s like they hit the trifecta,” says their daughter, Laura Matz.
When I caught up with them in their Normandy Park apartment, though, they couldn’t help contrasting their own stability with the turbulent state of the news today.
Harold was telling how they had to hand-haul thousands of wounded Allied soldiers out of the Battle of the Bulge on the border of Belgium and Germany, when he interrupted himself.
“This president today, if he’d been the president back then, we would have lost the war in the first three months,” he said.
“No steadiness, no resolve,” he said.
Wilma said she’s been appalled that any American leader would wink and nod at Neo-Nazis, considering the lengths her generation went to fight it.
“I don’t know if he really means it — he seems to say whatever pops into his head — but this country sacrificed a great deal back then,” she said. “It feels like that’s been forgotten. It’s hard to describe what it was like. It was all hands on deck.”
When Harold was shipped to Europe in the fall of 1943, she, just 19, immediately signed up to help build bomber parts at a temporary Boeing war factory in Chehalis. At the peak of production, more than 70 percent of the workers there were women. It was her first job.
“I often maintain she did more to beat the Nazis than I did,” laughed Harold, who went on to become a chiropractor in Des Moines after the war.
Recently Tim Egan of The New York Times called these last living fascism fighters, quiet people like Harold and Wilma living out their years in senior homes, our “real American heritage.” As opposed to the statues and symbols people are fighting over today.
His point is that the monument fight is for phony patriots. We have among us a few “living memorials” to the best American story. The one where we were unambiguously on the right side of history.
It turns out it was about living old values. Such as persistence.
Speaking of which: What’s the secret to staying married for an incredible 75 years?
“I like to have someone to sleep next to,” Harold shrugs.
Wilma just rolls her eyes, and smiles. When you’ve beaten the Great Depression and the Nazis and made it three-quarters of a century together, no way a bad joke is going to get between you and the finish line.