On Foreign Policy, Trump’s Apologies are Not Enough

I haven’t forgotten the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812, but Britain and America have fought two world wars together since then and forged a “special relationship” to stare down totalitarian communism. You’d think it wouldn’t be necessary for the leaders of the United Kingdom to have to put up with stuff like this:

The White House has apologized to the British government after alleging that a UK intelligence agency spied on President Donald Trump at the behest of former President Barack Obama.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster spoke with his British counterpart on Thursday about press secretary Sean Spicer’s comment from the White House podium about a Fox News report that said British intelligence helped wiretap Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign, a White House official said Friday.

The official described the conversation as “cordial” where McMaster described Spicer’s comment as “unintentional.”
McMaster also told his counterpart that “their concerns were understood and heard and it would be relayed to the White House.”

I guess by “cordial” McMaster means that no one got punched in the face.

Apparently, there were “at least two calls” from annoyed British officials in addition to a direct call to Sean Spicer from the British ambassador. I spent a little time last night watching BBC News and they spent the entire time treating our president like a submental unbalanced charlatan, which is what he is. The main point they were keen to reiterate every five minutes was that the GCHQ (the U.K.’s equivalent to our National Security Agency) flatly denied that they had spied on Trump and that they wanted everyone to know that our president was full of “nonsense” and shouldn’t be taken seriously in the least.

The strong language from Downing Street — which followed a similar, rare statement from the UK intelligence agency GCHQ — indicated that the British government was furious that the US had made such an incendiary allegation.

And, yes, this kind of irresponsible leadership from the White House has consequences:

Tim Farron, leader of the UK Liberal Democrat party — the junior coalition partner in the last British government — described the White House claim as “shameful” and said it risked harming US and UK security.

“Trump is compromising the vital UK-US security relationship to try to cover his own embarrassment,” he tweeted.

This is your daily reminder that a minority of the American people elected a Birther.

When you put a Birther in, you get unsubstantiated wild allegations coming out.

There will be no end to our shame and humiliation until this election mistake is somehow rectified. And then there’s the intolerable risk this puts us in, which is never clearer than when North Korea is in the headlines.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson ruled out on Friday opening any negotiation with North Korea to freeze its nuclear and missile programs and said for the first time that the Trump administration might be forced to take pre-emptive action “if they elevate the threat of their weapons program” to an unacceptable level.

Mr. Tillerson’s comments in Seoul, a day before he travels to Beijing to meet Chinese leaders, explicitly rejected any return to the bargaining table in an effort to buy time by halting North Korea’s accelerating testing program.

Have you ever looked at a war game scenario for what would happen if war broke out between North and South Korea.

An actual war on the Korean peninsula would almost certainly be the bloodiest America has fought since Vietnam—possibly since World War II. In recent years Pentagon experts have estimated that the first ninety days of such a conflict might produce 300,000 to 500,000 South Korean and American military casualties, along with hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. The damage to South Korea alone would rock the global economy.

Do you think we can contemplate undertaking such a thing on the say-so of Donald Trump?

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  109. March 17, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    Next Gardiner projected a PowerPoint slide showing the range of a Taepo Dong 1 missile overlaid on a map of East Asia. It demonstrated that such a missile launched from the Korean peninsula could reach not only Tokyo, Okinawa, and Beijing but also the U.S. base in Guam. To prevent escalation, Gardiner said, we would need to take out the No-Dong and Taepo Dong missile sites quickly–which would not be easy, because we don’t know where those missiles are. Many are hidden in underground bunkers throughout North Korea. The PACOM commander’s conclusion: “It’s a difficult target set, but we can do it.”

    We would also, of course, need to take out the nuclear sites. Gardiner flashed a map of North Korea’s known nuclear-related facilities on the screen, and then showed a series of satellite photos of various WMD targets. Many of the targets were tucked away in underground tunnels or at least partially obscured by what arrows on the photos labeled as “hill masses.” “You begin to see how difficult a target set this is,” Gardiner said.

    “Is that a euphemism for undoable?” Secretary of Defense Adelman asked.

    “No, not at all,” Gardiner said. General McInerney practically jumped out of his chair to say “No!”

    Gardiner continued, explaining that the first few days of the fight would be critical if we were to have any chance of protecting Seoul. To do so, we would have to get the chemical-delivery systems, the missile sites, and the nuclear sites before the North Koreans had a chance to use them. To accomplish all this we would need to carry out 4,000 air sorties a day in the first days of the conflict. In Iraq, in contrast, we had carried out 800 a day.

    Director of National Intelligence Mathews disagreed that Seoul could be shielded: “My understanding is that we cannot protect Seoul, at least for the first twenty-four hours of a war, and maybe for the first forty-eight.” McInerney disputed this, and Mathews asked him to explain.

    McInerney: “There’s a difference between ‘protecting’ Seoul and [limiting] the amount of damage Seoul may take.”

    Mathews: “There are a hundred thousand Americans in Seoul, not to mention ten million South Koreans.”

    McInerney: “A lot of people are going to die, Jessica. But you still prevail.”

    Mathews: “I just think we’ve got to be really careful. We’ve got to protect Seoul. If your daughter were living in Seoul, I don’t think you would feel the U.S. military could protect her in those first twenty-four hours.”

    McInerney: “No, I do. I believe that we have the capability–whether from pre-emption or response–to minimize the casualties in Seoul.”

    Mathews: “‘Minimize’ to roughly what level? A hundred thousand? Two hundred thousand?”

    McInerney: “I think a hundred thousand or less.”

    Only a hard-nosed military strategist, of course, can contemplate 100,000 casualties as coolly as McInerney did. He went on to argue that–assuming 4,000 sorties a day, and given our current targeting technology, combined with the fact that the artillery systems firing on Seoul would be fairly concentrated around the DMZ–we would be able to mitigate the lethality of North Korean strikes on Seoul. Gallucci added that the North Koreans would be foolish to waste their artillery on Seoul. “It is insane for them if they are engaged in ground combat,” Gallucci said. “They’re going to be in desperate need of that artillery for support of ground operations.”

    McInerney agreed: “If they try to use Seoul as an artillery target, we would destroy their army that much quicker.”


    A cakewalk.

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