Posts tagged ‘Korea’

It’s Thursday

Once again I sit here at a loss as to where to start. The DFF’s call to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo has now been withdrawn and as Rachel Maddow pointed out last night, the court “system”, you know that thing Lindsey Graham championed, is in a shambles, not to mention it would violate almost everything in our Constitution. Just try to keep in mind that if they can do that to him, they can do that to you. Once you throw away our rights, you never get them back.

Next up is a really good piece by Andrew Rosenthal about the Seven Bizarre Notions Trump and His Team Have About America. It is really worth a read. What you get out of this is how ignorant yet arrogant these people are (or how dangerous their ignorance makes them). When I watch Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her ignorant arrogance saying things like you can’t question a four star general in the face of video showing he was lying, I know what is going on here.

“If you want to go after General Kelly, that’s up to you, but I think if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that’s something highly inappropriate.”

So in a democracy it is wrong to speak truth to power.  Some democracy. They are on a religious mission. These are evangelical Christians who believe Trump has God’s authority and was chosen by him. Said another way, they checked their brains at the door. That is what makes this whole administration so scary, their lack of understanding of the Constitution and how it is supposed to protect us from people like them. It would if Republicans were not such a craven and evangelical lot themselves. Please, somebody send in some atheists to straighten this mess out. My favorite came from Andrew when he said this about keeping women sacred:

It might be tempting to write Kelly’s remarks off as the ravings of a man whose boss must drive him crazy on a daily basis and who had earlier talked of a mythical time when women in America were held “sacred” (by blocking their career aspirations and paying them less than men, denying them birth control and access to abortions, and refusing them the right to vote for more than a half-century after the Civil War).

Meanwhile there is was really interesting testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee from Thae Yong-ho, a former diplomat in North Korea’s Embassy. He defected so his sons would not be slaves as he was. He noted that the world is intruding in on North Korea, and free markets are springing up and unless Kim changes his way, there is a good chance there could be an uprising of the people. Now you can take all this with a gain of salt, but the thrust here is that we are playing into his hands by being belligerent instead of tightening sanctions and waiting him out. I would argue that that is our only viable option unless you want to kill about 20 million people. Of course the DFF is traveling to Asia on a long trip and he needs a distraction from the tightening net on his finances and collusion with the Russians, so hang on to your hat. What is the death of 20 million people as a distraction if you are on a mission from God. Just ask the latest NYC terrorist.

Finally I will leave you with this: I listened to a discussion on NPR yesterday (driving to a colonoscopy, cancer boy came out just fine) about the new study of the Democratic Party’s failures, Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis. It is a steely eyed look at how they need to change and in the interview you saw the problem. Clearly, 2016 was a total shellacking and yet no one was willing to look deeply, so Progressives did. And the report is damning to today’s Democratic Party. The thrust was wake up, stand for something, and that something is a progressive way forward. But they also had Michael Tomasky, arguing that to win in conservative districts, Democrats have to hew more to the middle (note the middle is now to the right in today’s politics). That might be smart tactics to win a battle, and bad strategy to win a war. That is how we got here and as the study noted, most people can’t really name what Democrats stand for (Note Tomasky was a Hillary supporter).

In one exchange where a caller indicated that with Hillary it was unclear what she stood for or whether she was progressive at all, Tomasky replied that Hillary did a poor job of messaging, but if you look at her policies, they were more liberal than Barrack Obama (I would hope so). What I love is that they can’t see the fatal flaw in this argument, where was the central theme instead of a bunch of policies. Then there was the argument that you can’t argue for a single payer system and expect to bring in moderates. Once again I have to ask, if you don’t, what does the Democratic Party stand for. How do you convince people that the way forward is universal care if that is not your goal?

The report is great reading and I strongly recommend it. The sad thing is Democrats seem to be ignoring it, with let’s convince people we can work with the other side bull shit. It has worked so well for them.






Shooting in Las Vegas? Could this be domestic terrorism? They found at least 10 guns in the alleged shooter’s room. Can we connect the dots yet? But the Dotard in Charge (DIC) is showing his empathy and labeled this an act of evil so I already feel better. I can’t figure whether to outlaw outside gatherings or multi-story hotels. Then again could guns be the problem? Oh shut my mouth! Nevada has legalized silencers! Apparently what happens in Las Vegas does not stay there anymore.

Meanwhile things are still fairly desperate in many parts of Puerto Rico although the relief effort is beginning to crank up. Of course once again the DIC is telling us the response has just been amazing. “We have it under great control.” That was after someone finally explained to him where Puerto Rico was and that they were actually American citizens (I don’t know that, but the big water statement and other comments indicates he did not). So if you want to find leadership, this is not it. His enablers are showing how empathetic he is and I just want to laugh. Empathy is not water, food, power, medical support, or a dry place to sleep. “Hey, get out there and fix it yourselves!” Really, that is leadership? He should have been on top of this from day one. Speaking of one, that was the first hole of his golf course he was on yesterday expressing his sympathy. Right on top of it.

Then we have the North Korean snafu (situation normal, all fucked up). Rex, doesn’t need a staff, Tillerson tells us we are talking to the North Koreans through back channels, and the DIC tells Rex he is wasting his time talking to Rocket Man. Of course enter the enablers who try to spin this as great strategy, good cop/bad cop approach when we all know there is no grand strategy. I expect Rex to quit pretty soon.

Then there is the story that the DIC can only respond to and hear good news or he lashes out so that is all he hears. On the immigration issue he is only told what they cost us, not what they add so he does not have to deal with complex thoughts or get confused by complex issues which might counter his policy ideas. Stephen Miller is probably the architect of that approach. He has no real intellectual curiosity and has decided what he believes, so telling him different is a good way to be unemployed. Remember the crowd size at inauguration? I am a normal person and I like to hear good stuff about me, but I also want to hear the bad so I can fix it. That is how I stay married. The DIC just reinvents reality so there is nothing to fix.

There was the vote and violence in Catalonia.  WTF.  People do not have a right to vote?  Spain’s reaction just reinforced the need to separate.  Oh, I understand that a nation, like ours in the Civil War, may have to go to war in a secession, but they were participating in a non-binding vote. There is a problem there Huston and it is not solved by a police riot and brutality.  And while I am at it, why is the United States against the vote for and secession of the Kurds?  Vice President Bidden even proposed that solution to Iraq years ago.  Why do we not understand the need for freedom and independence from a state that has repressed them?  We are really good at being on the wrong side of an issue.

Finally, I have been reading some snarky reviews of Burns’ and Novick’s The Vietnam War. Snarky because they said we should not be too quick to draw lessons learned, and some complexities were too simplified. Hmm. I wonder if these people lived through it? There were all kinds of complexities and all kinds of contradictions, but the big lessons are fairly simple. Here they are if you missed them:

  1. War is an atrocity. Entering into a war can only be done when our very survival is at stake. The wanton loss of life is never justified and what it does to us can never be repaired. It damn well better be worth it. See #2.  Oh and it wasn’t here.  Neither was Iraq.
  2. We humans find out things about ourselves in war, our savagery, that we did not want to know and that is what damages us the most because we find we actually enjoy it. And to be effective at it, we devalue the lives of the enemy through racism and hate.  That reduces our humanity.
  3. Our government will lie to us for political ends, and transparency and a vigorous free press is necessary so we the people can decide if we want to pay the price for war, or if the reasons are made up.  See both Voetnam and Iraq.
  4. As noted above about the DIC, generals/leaders are on top of an organization that needs to feed them what they want to hear.  Real leaders dig deep to find the truth, report it, and act on it.  There are not many of them in the real world.
  5. Governments glorify war to get us to fight them.  Medals, hero-worship ceremonies, and the lie that most wars are about protecting freedom, democracy, and the Constitution are the ways they do it.  Sure there are real heroes and we should admire them.  But because you wear a uniform does not make you a hero.  The guy who stopped the killing at My Lai was the real hero.  Somehow he maintained his humanity.  The idea of the fog of war and that this is understandable (only Calley was convicted and then had his sentence reduced to nothing) is nonsense.  Maybe it is in the sense that we lose our humanity, but it should never be tolerated.  It is the best argument against war itself.

Those are fairly simple. There might be all kinds of lessons about how to fight a war, who should be our friends, tactics in the field, yada, yada, yada, but really, they are minor players to the big ones above.  So Monday morning and another WTF wakeup.

North Korea

While you Republicans are quaking in your boots over a non-issue, immigration, at least as a threat to nation security, you should be quaking in your boots over North Korea.  I spent time many years ago flying reconnaissance mission along the DMZ.  I got a flavor of the tension and the Korean psyche.  Be afraid.  If you want to understand North Korea read the book (novel) The Orphan Master’s Son.  What you get is a real sense of the insaneness of the leadership culture and the amount of propaganda and miss information the population lives under.  While a novel, a well researched one.  If you want to understand South Korea, think aggressive and face is critical.

The war, if it broke out, would be a disaster.  Many North Koreans will fight to the death.  But that is not the real issue.  When the war was over there would be a refugee problem that both the Chinese and the South Koreans do not want to deal with.  Everyone in North Korea will be a refugee. Once the lid comes off everyone will want out.  It would be a world crisis with winter coming on.  But then again North Korea is such an evil, maybe it is time.

But war may break out because rational calculations and North Korean leadership are an oxymoron.  They may have started believing their own propaganda.  Worse, the South may be just sick of the North problem.  So what will happen is anybody’s guess, but we have 30,000 American troops there, and a large well equipped Air Force.  I could tell you what they use to be armed with, but then I would have to shoot you.  We use to laugh about our role there (this is back in the 70s).  We weren’t sure whether we were there to keep the North from coming south, or the South from going North.  It is anybody’s guess what will happen next.

North Korea and the End Game

One of the countries that I do have a little experience with is Korea, however dated. Back in the 1970s I flew reconnaisance missions along the DMZ. I was never sure whether we were trying to keep the North from invading the South, or the South from going North, and the war games were quite serious. This is a real powder keg.

I was listening to a discussion on Now with Alex Wagner and P.J. Crawley said the following:

You have an uncertain leadership. They are nevous. They have seen all the counter revolutions in other parts of the world, and so if you are a dictator what have you normally done in the past, work up a crisis and that strengthens the bond between you and your population . That works for a period of time, but not over time. I think that the North Koreans are used to challenging new South Korean Presidents. I do think ultimately this is as much politics because ultimately the North Korean want to keep the status quo in tact. They just want to keep their regime in tact. They want to keep making money through both licit and illicit activities and they are not necessarily going to the bink and following over.

What I got out of this is that what we all should do is stay calm and not over react to their saber rattling. It will pass. But before he made these comments, Katty Kay from the BBC said the following which I think we should think about:

The temptation to say, yeah they will get over it, but just pacify them a little bit, but we just really don’t know do we with Kim Jong-Un what his intentions are, what his intentions are with the military. The fact that they have effectively admitted they are a nuclear state, and they are ratcheting up platomium production, it is not going to be immediate, but this is certainly a more alarming spike in tension than we have seen in years.

She pointed out that engagement had not gotten us very far and and things seem to be degrading, causing more concern in the international community than we have seen before. I think the implied issue here is what is the end game. If P.J. Crawley is correct, then we are kicking the can down the road and hoping for engagement in the future. That is what we are doing in Iran, but is that really good policy here? What we seem to have learned (and I know for a fact), is that the North Koreans are crazy. They will do irrational things because they have nothing to lose. So the great question is do we show patience and bide for better times, or if appropriately provoked, we take action now to resolve this issue before it gets too dangerous?

That is really the discussion we should be having and I am sure China does want a war now because they would be inundated with refugees. Japan may look at it differently. But sooner or later should we not be discussing what the end game is in our policy and whether that is realistic or not? The North Koreans should scare everyone.