Trump Continues to Ramp Up Rhetoric on North Korea

Yesterday, after further escalating his provocative rhetoric toward North Korea, and saying that "his administration could unveil a plan as early as next week to add billions for anti-missile defenses in response to recent North Korean threats," Donald Trump started this morning with an incendiary tweet, warning that the U.S. military strategy was "locked and loaded."

This is just unfathomably reckless.

Trump is putting millions of lives at risk, including and especially the lives of South Koreans. Richard Nephew, a scholar at Columbia University who was a sanctions coordinator in President Barack Obama's State Department, said of a possible military confrontation: "It's hard to imagine that scenario ending with anything other than the North Koreans deciding to light up Seoul."

And on the U.S. territory of Guam, their Homeland Security agency has issued a factsheet to "help residents prepare for an imminent missile threat. ...The advice includes tips such as: 'Do not look at the flash or fireball — It can blind you' and 'Take cover behind anything that might offer protection. Lie flat on the ground and cover your head. If the explosion is some distance away, it could take 30 seconds or more for the blast wave to hit,' the sheet states."

But Trump is making absolutely no public moves to deescalate the situation. To the contrary, he is tweeting provocations and will go ahead with "with massive sea, land, and air exercises later this month" in South Korea.
The annual joint exercises, named Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, have long been planned for 21-31 August, but now come at a time when both Washington and Pyongyang are on heightened alert, raising the spectre of a mishap or overreaction.

The timing is doubly concerning as it is within a timeframe in which Pyongyang says it will be ready to fire four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missiles toward the US-run island of Guam, an unusually specific threat against the US.

Washington and Seoul say the exercises, involving tens of thousands of American and South Korean troops, are a deterrent against North Korean aggression.
Further, as Trump used the specter of a trade war to try to cajole China's involvement in addressing the North Korean crisis, a U.S. Navy destroyer carried out the third "freedom of navigation operation" so far in Trump's presidency, "coming within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea," the claimed purpose of which is "to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters."

China was not happy: Their Defense Ministry "said two Chinese warships 'jumped into action' and warned the U.S. ship to leave, labeling the move a 'provocation' that seriously harms mutual trust."

In a statement, the Defense Ministry said: "China is resolutely opposed to this kind of show of force and pushing of regional militarization by the U.S. that may easily cause an unexpected incident at sea or in the air."

This is at the same time that China is urging both Washington and Pyongyang to calm the fuck down, basically:
China has repeatedly warned both Washington and Pyongyang not to do anything that raises tensions or causes instability on the Korean Peninsula, and strongly reiterated that suggestion Friday.

"The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is complicated and sensitive," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement.

"China hopes that all relevant parties will be cautious on their words and actions, and do things that help to alleviate tensions and enhance mutual trust, rather than walk on the old pathway of taking turns in shows of strength, and upgrading the tensions."

...The Global Times said both sides were engaging in a "reckless game" that runs the risk of descending into a real war.
And there is no one with the authority to stop Trump from playing this "reckless game" who is willing to do so. Congress' Republican majority has been unwilling to provide virtually any checks or balances on Trump's egregious abuses, and that isn't likely to change — as Senator Lindsey Graham, the closest thing left to a GOP moderate, says that Trump "doesn't need congressional approval for a military strike against North Korea."

We are not being governed by serious, measured, judicious people. And I am extremely distressed by the havoc and harm they seem intent on causing.

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