Despite many experts and many more ordinary people have serious concerns about provocative posturing over North Korea Vice Mike Pence continues to ramp up the rhetoric along with military visuals.
RCP: VP Pence to North Korea: “The Sword Stands Ready”
From the wind-swept deck of a massive aircraft carrier, Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday warned North Korea not to test the resolve of the U.S. military, promising it would make an “overwhelming and effective” response to any use of conventional or nuclear weapons.
Pence, dressed in a green military jacket, said aboard the hulking USS Ronald Reagan that President Donald Trump’s administration would continue to “work diligently” with allies like Japan, China and other global powers to apply economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang. But he told the sailors, “as all of you know, readiness is the key.
“The United States of America will always seek peace but under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready,” Pence told 2,500 sailors dressed in blue fatigues and Naval baseball caps on a sunny, windy morning aboard the carrier at the U.S. Yokosuka naval base in Tokyo Bay.
“Those who would challenge our resolve or readiness should know, we will defeat any attack and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response,” Pence said.
From two continents, Pence and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned that North Korea’s latest failed missile launch was a reckless act of provocation and assured allies in Asia that the U.S. was ready to work to achieve a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Mattis denounced North Korea’s attempted missile launch as he began a Middle East tour, telling reporters traveling with him to Saudi Arabia, “the leader of North Korea again recklessly tried to provoke something by launching a missile,” he said. The term “reckless” is one the North Koreans have used to describe ongoing large-scale U.S. and South Korean military exercises, which the North calls a dress rehearsal for an invasion.
Posturing peace from an aircraft carrier saying “the sword stands ready” is not very reassuring.
Trump and Pence, who stopped at the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea on Monday, have signaled this week a forceful U.S. stance on North Korea’s recent actions. But it remains unclear what might come next.
Behind the heated rhetoric, Trump’s strategy in the region looks somewhat similar to predecessor Barack Obama’s – albeit with the added unpredictability of a new president who has shown he’s willing to use force.
Can North Korea be trusted? Probably not, but they haven’t done much actual attacking since the Korean war sort of ended seventy years ago.
Can the US be trusted?
The Gulf of Tonkin incident…
…drew the United States more directly into the Vietnam War. It involved two separate confrontations involving North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The original American report blamed North Vietnam for both incidents, but eventually became very controversial with widespread claims that either one or both incidents were false, and possibly deliberately so.
In the 2003 documentary The Fog of War, the former United States Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara admitted that the August 2 USS Maddox attack happened with no Defense Department response, but the August 4 Gulf of Tonkin attack never happened.
The Bay of Pigs Invasion…
…was a failed military invasion of Cuba undertaken by the CIA-sponsored paramilitary group Brigade 2506 on 17 April 1961. A counter-revolutionary military (made up of Cuban exiles who traveled to the United States after Castro’s takeover), trained and funded by the United States government’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Brigade 2506 fronted the armed wing of the Democratic Revolutionary Front (DRF) and intended to overthrow the increasingly communist government of Fidel Castro. Launched from Guatemala and Nicaragua, the invading force was defeated within three days by the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, under the direct command of Prime Minister Fidel Castro.
President Kennedy took the US back from the brink of a nuclear war with Russia.
NY Times: Carrier Wasn’t Sailing to Deter North Korea, as U.S. Suggested
Just over a week ago, the White House declared that ordering an American aircraft carrier into the Sea of Japan would send a powerful deterrent signal to North Korea and give President Trump more options in responding to the North’s provocative behavior. “We’re sending an armada,” Mr. Trump said to Fox News last Tuesday afternoon.
The problem was that the carrier, the Carl Vinson, and the three other warships in its strike force were that very moment sailing in the opposite direction, to take part in joint exercises with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean, 3,500 miles southwest of the Korean Peninsula.
White House officials said Tuesday that they had been relying on guidance from the Defense Department. Officials there described a glitch-ridden sequence of events, from an ill-timed announcement of the deployment by the military’s Pacific Command to a partially erroneous explanation by the defense secretary, Jim Mattis — all of which perpetuated the false narrative that a flotilla was racing toward the waters off North Korea.
By the time the White House was asked about the Carl Vinson, its imminent arrival had been emblazoned on front pages across East Asia, fanning fears that Mr. Trump was considering a pre-emptive military strike.
Can the White House and the Defence Department be trusted to get things right?