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Trump administration all at sea: the bizarre voyage of the Carl Vinson

The US’s game of deception about the movements of the Carl Vinson during the North Korean crisis has damaged the US’s credibility and earned it deserved ridicule.

Alexander Mercouris

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The saga of the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and its battle group serves as a good example of all that is wrong with the Trump administration’s conduct of foreign policy.

Since before Chinese President Xi Jinping met with President Trump in Florida on 6th April 2017 President Trump and his officials have been talking about the US taking unilateral action if China did not move to stop development of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.

After President Xi left Florida, with rumours circulating that North Korea was about to conduct a sixth nuclear test, more threats of unilateral action poured out of the US.

It is important to say that they did not come just from the President.  They also came from various other officials, including Vice-President Mike Pence (who appeared to repeat them during a visit to South Korea), Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the President’s National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster, and the President’s spokesman, Sean Spicer.

Articles also appeared in the media – clearly sourced from Trump administration officials, including an incendiary one published by NBC – which appeared to threaten that the US would launch a pre-emptive strike to prevent North Korea conducting a nuclear test unless China acted to prevent it.

The threats created an atmosphere of crisis, and as North Korea’s national holiday – the ‘Day of the Sun’ – approached the Chinese government warned of war.

Central to all these threats, and appearing to give force to them, were reports that the US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and its escort ship were steaming towards North Korea, with some reports claiming that some US warships armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles were already no more than 300 km from the site of the pending North Korean nuclear test.

Though these reports about the Carl Vinson went on for days, no official of the Trump administration contradicted them.  Thus when the US dropped its biggest bomb – the MOAB (“Mother of all Bombs”) on ISIS in Afghanistan – this together with the deployment of the Carl Vinson and its escorting warships to the Korean Peninsula was taken as a warning to North Korea – and China – that the US stood ready to act unilaterally if there was a North Korean nuclear test.

It now turns out that all these threats when they were made were hollow because the Carl Vinson and its battle-fleet, instead of sailing towards North Korea to launch a strike against it, was actually sailing away from North Korea, to conduct exercises near Australia.  The National Interest has provided a time-line that sets out the details of the deception.

Needless to say, when this fact became known, it exposed the Trump administration to deserved ridicule.

The Trump administration has since tried to repair the damage with claims that US submarines armed with cruise missiles are in fact located close to the North Korean coast, and that the Carl Vinson and its fleet, having steamed away from North Korea, is now steaming back there again.  However the damage to the Trump administration’s credibility, and to that of the US, has now been done.

What makes this episode even more absurd is that those who were supposed to be intimidated by all this – the Chinese, the Russians and almost certainly the North Koreans – undoubtedly knew where the Carl Vinson was all along.

The Chinese and the Russians definitely have the means to keep track of the movements of a US carrier fleet via satellite and other means.  After all in the case of the Russians they have been doing this very thing routinely ever since the middle years of the Cold War.

It beggars belief that the Russians did not know where the Carl Vinson actually was even as the Trump administration was pretending it was steaming towards Korea, and it is only slightly less incredible that the Chinese didn’t know where it was either.

The North Koreans do not have the same means of global surveillance that the Chinese and the Russians have.  However it is surely likely that they were being kept informed by the Chinese and the Russians of the Carl Vinson’s movements.  The Chinese and the Russians would have had a compelling interest to tell them this, if only to dissuade them from doing something stupid, such as launching a pre-emptive strike because of fears the Carl Vinson was steaming towards them, when it was actually steaming away.

I was struck watching the parade in Pyongyang during the ‘Day of the Sun’ how relaxed Kim Jong-un looked even as talk of imminent war reached fever pitch.  Perhaps the reason he looked so relaxed was because he knew that instead of steaming towards him the Carl Vinson was actually steaming away from him.

I recently said that the first law of international diplomacy is not to bluff China, because the bluff is certain to be called.  It makes even less sense to bluff China in a situation where China knows it is being bluffed.  That is a recipe not just for humiliation but for ridicule, which is what the Trump administration is reaping now.

The danger in this sort of behaviour is that not only has the US lost face in a region where face preeminently matters, but it has done so in a way that may actually increase the risk of something going catastrophically wrong.

Kim Jong-un, young and inexperienced as he is, and surrounded by advisers who may be too frightened of him and too much in awe of him to counsel him wisely, may now think that any move the US threatens against him is a bluff, and this may embolden him to take increasingly reckless steps without calculating the US’s likely responses correctly.

More pertinently, President Trump may feel that after this debacle he has to take forceful action against North Korea if he is to preserve whatever credibility he has left with Beijing and Pyongyang.  That may lead him to do reckless and dangerous things against North Korea which are objectively unwarranted.

The blame for this debacle rests in part with President Trump but mostly with his National Security Adviser General McMaster.  He presumably was aware of where the Carl Vinson actually was, and as the President’s National Security Adviser it was his job not only to keep the President informed, but to advise the President of the folly of a bluff which was certain to be called.  Not only does he seem not to have done so, but on the contrary he actively colluded in a bluff which has brought the US nothing but humiliation and shame.

The damage done from this affair is considerable but not in my opinion irreparable.  In spite of everything there still seems to be goodwill on the part of the Chinese and the Russians towards a new and inexperienced President, who they probably like more as a person than they did his aloof and arrogant predecessor, Barack Obama.

If the President draws back and starts listening to good advice the Chinese and the Russians will help him save face, whilst warning Kim Jong-un not to push his luck too far.  Yesterday’s UN Security Council Statement warning North Korea against any further ballistic missile or nuclear tests is a sign of this.

However if that is to happen the President has to change the way his chaotic administration is behaving.  Above all he has to start reaching out to and getting advice from proper foreign policy professionals, of whom there are still many in the US of a realist mindset who mean him well and who are willing to advise him.

In addition he needs to be less in awe of the men in uniform like General McMaster that he has surrounded himself with.  Whatever their competence as soldiers, or their managerial skills, the events of the last three weeks show that they do not have the knowledge or understanding of international policy to advise him properly about how diplomacy is conducted.

The alternative is for things to go on as they are.  In that case things will just go on going from bad to worse, until something really bad happens.

Meanwhile, as things stand, the foreign policy of the Trump administration does not look incoherent as some say.  It looks a train-wreck.

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Defeat in Bavaria delivers knockout punch to Merkel’s tenure as Chancellor (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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The stunning CSU defeat in Bavaria means that the coalition partner in Angela Merkel’s government has lost an absolute majority in their worst election results in Bavaria since 1950.

In a preview analysis before the election, Deutsche Welle noted that a CSU collapse could lead to Seehofer’s resignation from Merkel’s government, and conceivably Söder’s exit from the Bavarian state premiership, which would remove two of the chancellor’s most outspoken critics from power, and give her room to govern in the calmer, crisis-free manner she is accustomed to.

On the other hand, a heavy loss and big resignations in the CSU might well push a desperate party in a more volatile, abrasive direction at the national level. That would further antagonize the SPD, the center-left junior partners in Merkel’s coalition, themselves desperate for a new direction and already impatient with Seehofer’s destabilizing antics, and precipitate a break-up of the age-old CDU/CSU alliance, and therefore a break-up of Merkel’s grand coalition. In short: Anything could happen after Sunday, up to and including Merkel’s fall.

The Financial Times reports that the campaign was dominated by the divisive issue of immigration, in a sign of how the shockwaves from Merkel’s disastrous decision to let in more than a million refugees in 2015-16 are continuing to reverberate through German politics and to reshape the party landscape.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the stunning Bavarian election defeat of the CSU party, and the message voters sent to Angela Merkel, the last of the Obama ‘rat pack’ neo-liberal, globalist leaders whose tenure as German Chancellor appears to be coming to an end.

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Via Zerohedge

Voters in Germany’s economically dominant southern state of Bavaria delivered a stunning rebuke to the ruling Christian Social Union, in an election that delivered another crushing blow for the parties in Angela Merkel’s grand coalition in Berlin.

With all eyes on Sunday’s Bavaria election, moments ago the first exit polls showed a historic collapse for the ruling CSU party, which has ruled Bavaria continuously since 1957, and which saw its share of the vote collapse from 47.7% in the 2013 election to just 35.5%, losing its absolute majority and suffering its worst result since 1950, as voters defected in their droves to the Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany.

German newspaper Welt called the election “the most painful election defeat of the past 50 years for the CSU”. As predicted in the polls, the CSU experienced a “historic debacle” in the Bavarian state elections, according to Welt. The CSU was followed by the Greens which soared in the election, more than doubling to 18.5% from 8.6% in 2013, the Free Voters also rose to 11% from 9.0%, in 2013.

Meanwhile, the nationalist AfD are expecting to enter Bavaria’s parliament for the first time ever with 11% of the vote, and as such are setting up for their post-election party. Party leader Alice Weidel already is having the first beer in the small community of Mamming in Lower Bavaria.

Establishment party, left-of-center SPD also saw its support collapse from 20.6% in 2013 to just 10% today.

The full initial results from an ARD exit poll are as follows (via Zerohedge):

  • CSU: 35.5 %
  • Grüne: 18.5 %
  • FW: 11.5 %
  • AfD: 11.0 %
  • SPD: 10.0 %
  • FDP: 5.0 %
  • Linke: 3.5 %
  • Sonstige: 5.0 %

The breakdown by gender did not show any marked variations when it comes to CSU support, although more women voted for the Greens, while far more men supported the AfD:

There was a greater variation by educational level, with highly educated voters tending more towards the green GRÜNE (G/EFA) and liberal FDP (ALDE) then the average, while low/middle educated voters tended more towards CSU (EPP) and AfD (EFDD).

This was the worst result for the CSU since 1950.

Zerohedge further reports that alarmed by the rise of the anti-immigration, populist AfD, the CSU tried to outflank them by talking tough on immigration and picking fights with Ms Merkel over asylum policy.

But the strategy appeared to have backfired spectacularly by alienating tens of thousands of moderate CSU voters and driving them into the arms of the Greens.

Meanwhile, as support the CSU and SPD collapsed, the result confirmed the Greens’ status as the rising force in German politics. Running on a platform of open borders, liberal social values and the fight against climate change the party saw its support surge to 18.5%, from 8.4% in 2013. Meanwhile the AfD won 11%, and for the first time entered the Bavarian regional assembly.

“This is an earthquake for Bavaria,” said Jürgen Falter, a political scientist at the University of Mainz.

The CSU had governed the state with an absolute majority for most of the last 60 years. “It was Bavaria and Bavaria was the CSU. That is now no longer the case.”

The latest collapse of Germany’s establishment parties highlights the shaky ground the grand coalition in Berlin is now resting on as all three parties in the alliance, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the CSU and the SPD, are haemorrhaging support. Some are now questioning whether the coalition, already frayed by personal rivalries and near constant bickering over policy, can survive a full term in office.

“This outcome throws ever more doubt on the future of the grand coalition,” said Heinrich Oberreuter, head of the Passau Journalism Institute and an expert on the CSU. “Based on current polls, if an election were held now, the CDU, CSU and SPD would not even command a majority in the Bundestag.”

The CSU will now be be forced to form a coalition government — a humiliating outcome for a party that has run Bavaria single-handedly for 49 of the last 54 years. Its preference is probably for a three-party coalition with the Free Voters, a small party that is mainly focused on local politics. It could also team up with the Greens, though it would be highly reluctant to do so: the two parties are deeply divided over immigration, transport and environmental policy.

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Elizabeth Warren’s DNA ploy backfires big time (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 1.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at Senator Elizabeth Warren’s ‘genius’ idea to accept POTUS Trump’s ‘Native American DNA’ challenge. Let’s just say that Warren will never recover from this self-inflicted wound.

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The Cherokee Nation issued a statement crushing Elizabeth Warren for her “continued claims of tribal heritage.”

“A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship. Current DNA tests do not even distinguish whether a person’s ancestors were indigenous to North or South America. Sovereign tribal nations set their own legal requirements for citizenship, and while DNA tests can be used to determine lineage, such as paternity to an individual, it is not evidence for tribal affiliation. Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong. It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, who ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is prove. Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.

– Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin, Jr

Zerohedge reports that Elizabeth Warren just owned herself after releasing a DNA test confirming that she’s as little as 1/1024th Native American – about half the percentage of the average white person.

What’s more, the DNA expert she used, Stanford University professor Carlos Bustamente, “used samples from Mexico, Peru, and Colombia to stand in for Native American” as opposed to, say, DNA from a Cherokee Indian which Warren has claimed to be throughout her career.

Adding to the absurdity are two major corrections by the Boston Globe (which has become the media mouthpiece of Warren’s 2020 damage control efforts of late), letting readers know that “Due to a math error, a story about Elizabeth Warren misstated the ancestry percentage of a potential 10th generation relative. It should be 1/1,024,” and later updating it to “between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American.”

Adding to the absurdity are two major corrections by the Boston Globe (which has become the media mouthpiece of Warren’s 2020 damage control efforts of late), letting readers know that “Due to a math error, a story about Elizabeth Warren misstated the ancestry percentage of a potential 10th generation relative. It should be 1/1,024,” and later updating it to “between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American.”

Elizabeth Warren’s got trolled by Trump in the most epic fashion, pushing the Senator to make a blunder that will follow her for the rest of her career.

The Daily Caller’s Benny Johnson exposed Elizabeth Warren’s history of lies in 10 simple tweets…

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Hillary Clinton: Democrats have been TOO CIVIL with GOP (VIDEO)

Civil war becomes more likely as Clinton calls for greater civil unrest after weeks of absolutely insane behavior from leftist activists.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Former presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton just called for an end to civil behavior towards Republicans and conservatives. In an interview with Christiane Amanpour of CNN expanded on in a piece by USA Today, the failed candidate had this to say:

“You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about… That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and / or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again.”

Clinton said that Senate Republicans under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., “demeaned the confirmation process” and “insulted and attacked” Christine Blasey Ford – who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about a sexual assault she alleges Kavanaugh committed in 1982 – along with other “women who were speaking out.”

It should be pointed out here that Clinton told a lie. The Senate Republicans did everything possible to hear out Dr Ford’s testimony, and no one has gone on record with any sort of insults or demeaning comments about her. Every Republican Senator who stated anything agreed that something happened to her, but they also agreed that there was no corroboration showing that Judge Kavanaugh was actually involved in any misdoings. USA Today’s piece continues:

Clinton compared the handling of Kavanaugh’s confirmation to “Republican operatives shutting down the voting in 2000,” the “swift-boating of John Kerry,” attacks on former Arizona Sen. John McCain in the 2000 Republican primary and “what they did to me for 25 years.

“When you’re dealing with an ideological party that is driven by the lust for power, that is funded by corporate interests who want a government that does its bidding, you can be civil but you can’t overcome what they intend to do unless you win elections,” she told Amanpour.

Clinton compared Kavanaugh’s swearing-in ceremony at the White House on Monday to a “political rally” that “further undermined the image and integrity of the court.”

She told Amanpour the effect on the court “troubles” and “saddens” her “because our judicial system has been viewed as one of the main pillars of our constitutional government.”

“But the President’s been true to form,” Clinton added. “He has insulted, attacked, demeaned women throughout the campaign – really for many years leading up to the campaign. And he’s continued to do that inside the White House.”

Here, Clinton told at least two more incendiary whoppers.

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First, no one has been specifically after her, and second, President Donald Trump’s record with women including in the White House has been nothing short of stellar and gentlemanly. Nikki Haley, who supported Marco Rubio in the 2016 campaign and has at times been openly critical of Donald Trump, yesterday announced her full support of his 2020 campaign and her intent to campaign with and for him.

By all accounts, Mrs. Haley is a woman.

The first American Civil War had economic policy and states’ rights as its central focus. Slavery was a part of that issue, though slavery was practiced in the North as well in the South before this war began.

Now a new civil war is coming, but perhaps it should be called the American Social War. It is not about any real policy matter at all. It is hysteria, but it appears to be hysteria with a purpose.

The first American Social War has two apparent sides and allying forces and groups:

The Left:

  • pro-gay marriage
  • pro-death (in other words, pro-abortion)
  • anti-Christian, especially Christianity that says these first two issues are wrong
  • anti-GOP / Republican / Conservative
  • “victim class” – feminists, some millenials
  • supporters of legalized use of mind-altering / mood-altering drugs
  • appears to support overreaching socialist style government, featuring “fair” wages, such as a $15.oo minimum wage
  • anti-traditionalist
  • Mainstream media is strongly allied here
  • George Soros is a supporter
  • social media outlets, like Facebook and Twitter are supporters through “scrubbing” of media content
  • anti-white, anti-male, and if you are white, male and Christian, look out. You are Enemy Number One
  • supports and executes violence against all these people they are against, including family members.
  • very zealous, and very monolithic in terms of alignment and energy

The Right:

  • Conservatives
  • people who generally want the government to leave them alone
  • generally favors life, considering abortion tragic and to be avoided, though some consider that it should be made illegal
  • marriage has always been between one man and one woman and it should not be redefined to fit the whims of a few
  • God is sovereign (though many conservatives would never make this connection)
  • No real animus against the left, but at the same time, fed up with being hectored by the left all the time, as we saw in Senator Lindsey Graham’s explosive confrontation against Senate Democrats
  • Generally Republican by party affiliation, though many libertarian and conservatives are also present as well as a number of conservative democrats.
  • seeks to avoid violence. While there do exist a very few neo-Nazi types, their numbers are infinitesimal, and their behavior is rejected by the Right
  •  generally against drug use, though many have unfortunately moderated on the matter of actual illegality

The main characteristic of this approaching war, as stated before, is little more than some sort of outrage over identity politics and perceived victimization. This is something both new and old, as there is always a party in any war that claims that they are fighting because they are in fact the aggrieved party, under the other side’s aggression and suppression.

That factor exists with this war too. However, the reality of that aggression or suppression is that it does not exist, and this makes it very difficult for the “perceived aggressors” to ramp up the zeal needed to carry out the fight.

This factor is often very maddening for conservative people. As a whole they do not wish to fight. They wish to be left alone. The left on the other hand insists that everything must be fought for because the right has somehow managed to take it away from them, or is keeping it away from them.

This is purely fiction but it is almost impossible to convince a leftist that this is so. Tucker Carlson expands on this matter in this report. He makes reference at 6:37 about how Hillary Rodham Clinton is now openly calling for civility to the GOP to end (as if it hasn’t already!), but the entirety of this report begs to be seen to give perspective to the look and feel of this crisis:

This is unfamiliar territory in many ways, and it is unclear how far this will go. But one this is clear: it is testing all available limits, and it may come to real fighting, and real killing, for no reason better than perceived victimization.

It should be understood that the advocates for violence are all people that reject God and traditional values openly. There is certainly a connection.

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