Part I is here. Given that today is a Very Serious Day in this iteration of nuclear brinksmanship, it seemed to require a new diary. And yes, I’m trying not to obsess over it, but it’s all so nucking futz, almost unimaginable, unthinkable, that we need to coin a new term far past…surreal. The military madness not only continues, but escalates. Our Loose Cannon-in-Chief’s approval ratings have gone up since he bombed Yemen, dropped the MOAB on the caves in Afghanistan, and became a real President! When he Tomahawked Syria: oh, the applause, from both Ds and Rs, of course.
Of course all this provocative militarism could just be an object lesson a la the UK Defense Minister:
“In the most extreme circumstances we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike,” Fallon told the BBC’s Today program.
When asked in what circumstances, he replied: “They are better not specified or described, which would only give comfort to our enemies and make the deterrent less credible.
“The whole point about the deterrent is that you have got to leave uncertainty in the mind of anyone who might be thinking of using weapons against this country.”
But as the Carl Vinson Strike Group and Japanese destroyers are chugging toward North Korean waters, and
…we have these non-provocations as well:
Sure, Herr T may have called the 100 Senators to the White House to be briefed by Tillerson, his generals, the DNI to make a case for further crippling sanctions on the DPRK, but here’s TarheelDem’s thoughts on the ‘worst case scenario’:
“My worse-case is that the set-up of the auditorium is of a full-Senate situation room for them to watch exactly what he does in real-time and what the US military does in real-time and allows the Senators advising and implies their unanimous consent. At least Xi Jinping got to eat dinner in peace before he found out what Trump had done in Syria.”
Yes, the precedent had been set earlier. Great photo opportunities for re-election campaigns, especially if they come in fancy dress, eh?
But the entire exercise may be a gigantic feint, and the theme of the meeting will be about bombing Iran… Oh, US War, Inc.™! You seldom leave us hanging, waiting and clapping for moar war!
Andre Damon writes in: ‘Trump summons the Senate to the White House’ wsws.org, April 26
“It is not unusual for members of the executive branch, including military and intelligence officials, to brief members of Congress in closed-door sessions. But the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers between three coequal branches of government—executive, legislative and judicial—dictates that the executive present itself before the elected representatives of the people, not the other way around.
The session will take place Wednesday afternoon in the auditorium of the Eisenhower Office Building, adjacent to the White House, which will be temporarily transformed into a “sensitive compartmented information facility.” The senators will not be allowed to bring phones or have their staffs with them.
What Wednesday’s White House meeting symbolizes above all is the power of the military over the entire state apparatus. This is the outcome of more than a quarter century of unending war, accompanied by an immense growth in the power and political influence of the military. Today, decisions of the gravest consequence—including military action that could start a world war—are made by a cabal of conspirators in the ruling class and the military high command.
There is no longer even a pretense of public debate or congressional oversight and control.
There is no “peace faction” within the ruling establishment. The aggressive and belligerent foreign policy moves by the Trump administration have been welcomed by both Democrats and Republicans. The first two months of the Trump presidency were dominated by a hysterical campaign, led by the Democrats, to portray Trump as a Russian “poodle.” When Trump carried out a cruise missile attack against Syria, Russia’s ally, it was universally acclaimed, with Democrats demanding even more aggressive regime-change operations.
Not a single senator has as yet indicated opposition to the closed-door meeting at the White House, let alone announced that he or she will refuse to attend.”
From globaltimes.cn 4/24/17: ‘Xi urges calm on N.Korea during phone call with Trump’
“Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump on Monday discussed bilateral ties and the situation on the Korean Peninsula over the phone, promising close contact to allow for the prompt exchange of views on major issues of mutual concern.
China strongly opposes actions that violate United Nations Security Council resolutions, Xi said, adding that China hopes the parties concerned will exercise restraint and avoid actions that aggravate tensions on the peninsula, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Xi noted that if the parties shoulder their responsibilities and meet each other halfway, they can solve North Korea’s nuclear issue and achieve denuclearization, according to Xinhua.”
Now there’s a thought; once again, from b at Moon of Alabama:
“‘BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhua) — China proposed “double suspension” to defuse the looming crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Wednesday.
“As a first step, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) may suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the suspension of large-scale U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) military exercises,” Wang told a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress.’
FM Wang, ‘the lips’, undoubtedly transmitted an authorized message from North Korea: “The offer is (still) on the table and China supports it.”
North Korea has made the very same offer in January 2015. The Obama administration rejected it. North Korea repeated the offer in April 2016 and the Obama administration rejected it again. This March the Chinese government conveyed and supported the long-standing North Korean offer. The U.S. government, now under the Trump administration, immediately rejected it again. The offer, made and rejected three years in a row, is sensible. Its rejection only led to a bigger nuclear arsenal and to more missiles with longer reach that will eventually be able to reach the United States.”
Unsurprisingly, that reported conversation from Xinhua News is a bit different from: ‘Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Call with President Xi Jinping of China’, whitehouse.gov
“President Donald J. Trump spoke yesterday with President Xi Jinping of China to address issues regarding North Korea. President Trump criticized North Korea’s continued belligerence and emphasized that Pyongyang’s actions are destabilizing the Korean Peninsula. The two leaders reaffirmed the urgency of the threat posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, and committed to strengthen coordination in achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
Via zoominkorea.org: ‘The USFK Take Control of THAAD Site through Brute Force’, Apr 24, 2017 (with heartening photos)
“On April 22, 80 people, including residents of Seongju and Gimcheon, and Won Buddhists blocked two military vehicles carrying hazardous material from entering the former Lotte golf course, which is now the deployment site for the U.S. THAAD missile defense system. The protesters stood their ground for six hours to stop the vehicles from crossing Jinbat Bridge to the deployment site. Military authorities had no choice but to withdraw the vehicles and turn away from the deployment site.
Won Buddhist ministers leading a prayer: “We pray with all our hearts for the THAAD war weapon to go away and for abundant peace to come to this whole world…”
The South Korean police disrupted the peaceful protest of the residents and created a path for the vehicles to enter the deployment site. The confrontation between the residents and the riot police lasted two hours. The police used excessive force against protesters and arrested two residents.”
From Australia-based James O’neill’s ‘Just Who Does Pose the Greater Threat in Korea?’, neo.org:
“It is the US that has refused to sit down with North Korea and negotiate such a settlement. Instead, the US has installed the THAAD missile system in South Korea, which the Chinese, as well as the North Koreans, correctly claim is a direct threat to their security.
The US continues to conduct joint military exercises off the Korean coast, the maritime boundaries of which are themselves in violation of international maritime law. Further, as noted above, the making of threats of unilateral (and illegal) military action are hardly conducive to the resolution of any dispute. Neither is unhelpfully labeling the other party a member of an “axis of evil” likely to do anything to improve relations.
Latterly, the western media have been full of alarmist threats about North Korea’s alleged capacity to fire a nuclear missile able to reach the west coast of the United States (and Australia). The lack of evidence of any technical ability to actually do so is not welcomed as part of the debate.
More significantly, given that any such attack would lead to an immediate and massive retaliation reducing North Korea to a radioactive wasteland, it is difficult to discern any rational basis for such an alleged threat. Rationality however, is not part of the equation.
It suits US foreign policy very well indeed to be able to paint Kim Yong-Un as a dangerous and unpredictable madman. It helps justify the massive continued US military (and nuclear armed) presence in the region, including in South Korea, and maintaining 400 military bases to “contain China” and any other enemy du jour in the region. In that sense, Kim is very much Washington’s ‘useful idiot.’
The greater danger to peace and stability in the region comes from an even more dangerous and unpredictable egoist in the White House. That really is a worry.”
Bonus: from Gareth Porter