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On Korea Trump is becoming trapped by his own rhetoric

Donald Trump’s rhetoric and actions have created a crisis in which his adversary Kim Jong-un holds the initiative on further escalation.

Alexander Mercouris

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President Trump’s recent tweet claiming that the US has “no choice” but to accelerate its military build-up, has an unusually defensive and self-justifying tone, suggesting a certain level of awareness of the extent to which the situation in Korea is starting to spin out of his control, and may be sign of the pressure he is coming under.

Rumours of a possible nuclear test by North Korea have shifted from the Easter weekend to 25th April 2017, which is the anniversary of the founding of North Korea’s army.  In truth it could happen at any time, with the North Koreans now in a position to play cat-and-mouse with the US for as long as they like, ratcheting up the tensions by threatening a nuclear test whenever they please.

The US has dampened speculation of a pre-emptive strike to prevent the test.  That speculation was triggered by a report by NBC which gives every impression of having been intentionally planted by the Trump administration in anticipation of precisely such a strike.  Talk of a pre-emptive strike however seems to have upset China and – even more importantly – the US’s own allies, Japan and South Korea, causing the US to backtrack so that the contents of the NBC report are now being denied.

The Trump administration is however still suggesting that it will launch a military strike on North Korea if it carries out another nuclear test.  Moreover with the UN navy now in the East China Sea and steaming towards North Korea, and with talk of US nuclear submarines equipped with cruise missiles also in the area, the world cannot do other than take these warnings seriously.

The result is that if North Korea now carries out a test – whether on 25th April 2017 or at some later date – and the US fails to react, Donald Trump risks being humiliated, whereas if the US does react by launching a military attack on North Korea for the first time since the Korean war, it risks becoming trapped in a cycle of military situation over which it has no control with a nuclear power over which it knows almost nothing about.

At this point I should say that I strongly doubt speculation that North Korea would not respond militarily to a US strike on itself.  North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un seems to be still in the process of consolidating his authority, and both he and the whole North Korean leadership have made a fetish of their tough military posture.  I cannot imagine that the loss of face involved in not responding to a US military strike is politically acceptable to them, and if the US attacked them it seems to me that they would be bound to respond militarily in some way.

It would be however be up to the North Koreans to decide how far that retaliation would go, and possibly they would initially try to keep their retaliation within certain limits if only to keep their own options for future escalation open.

However with Trump’s prestige now also increasingly bound up with his taking a tough line against North Korea, even if North Korea responded initially in only a limited way, the pressure would then be on him to respond forcefully, especially if South Korean civilians or US military personnel were killed.  Again Trump would risk humiliation if he did not.

It is very easy to see how this situation could spiral out of control, with the initiative at all times held by Kim Jong-un, who is in a position to initiate action as and when he pleases.

No leader should ever manoeuvre himself into a situation where the initiative is held by his adversary and where he is at risk either of being either humiliated or of having to escalate in a situation which is not fully under his control.   That however is precisely the situation this amateur and inexperienced US President has got himself into.

To compound the problem, in Kim Jong-un and the North Korean regime the President is dealing with an adversary about whom he and the US knows virtually nothing about, and whose moves and counter-moves cannot be predicted with any confidence.

Already criticism is appearing within the US of the President’s actions, including this article in The New York Times, which looks to have been inspired by concerns from some officials within the US government, and which makes these telling points

As a candidate, Donald Trump seemed to pay no more attention to North Korea’s accelerating nuclear weapons program, which his predecessor has warned is America’s most urgent threat, than he did to other complex foreign policy issues. Now he is paying attention, but not in a helpful way. His intemperate talk is adding to regional tensions, unnerving allies and likely reinforcing North Korea’s longstanding fear that it could one day be attacked by America — the very reason North Korea invested in a nuclear arsenal in the first place.

It would be risky for Mr. Trump to let overconfidence and bombast, expressed in tweets and public statements, box him into some kind of showdown with the North’s ruthless leader, Kim Jong-un, who has displayed similarly macho traits. South Korea, Japan and even Russia have urged both sides to avoid a devastating miscalculation…..

What’s missing in the White House is a coherent strategy, something beyond statements and asking China for help. Mr. Trump needs to be firm, not reckless in his talk, ratchet up sanctions and find a way to engage the North in negotiations.

Almost certainly Chinese diplomats are working over-time behind the scenes to get Trump to draw back and to persuade Kim Jong-un to postpone whatever nuclear test he may have planned in order to give Trump room to retreat.  Trump’s tweet about the US “having no choice” may be an indicator of the pressure he is now under from the Chinese and others.

Possibly if no North Korean nuclear test takes place on 25th April 2017 Trump will feel he can pull the Carl Vinson back without losing face.  However in that case the test will almost certainly only be postponed until some later date this year.

In the meantime it is likely Kim Jong-un will have extracted concessions from Beijing in return for his agreement to postpone the test.  If so then instead of China increasing its pressure on North Korea – as President Trump says he wants it to – it may actually reduce it.

The alternative is however for an uncontrolled escalation between the US and a nuclear armed power the US knows almost nothing about.  The extent of US ignorance of North Korea is shown by US uncertainty even about the size of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, with some US reports guesstimating the number of nuclear bombs in North Korea’s possession at six, whilst others claiming it may already be as high as 30, and with no-one knowing for sure whether North Korea has managed to develop means to deliver these bombs or not.

That is a terrible situation for the US and for Donald Trump to be in, and it is to be earnestly hoped that they now find the wisdom and the courage to draw back before it is too late, and to learn something from this experience.

 

 

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EU leaders dictate Brexit terms to Theresa May (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 115.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how EU leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the the Article 50 process which effectively postpones Brexit beyond the 29 March deadline.

The UK will now be offered a delay until the 22nd of May, only if MPs approve Theresa May’s withdrawal deal next week. If MPs do not approve May’s negotiated deal, then the EU will support a short delay until the 12th of April, allowing the UK extra time to get the deal passed or to “indicate a way forward”.

UK PM Theresa May said there was now a “clear choice” facing MPs, who could vote for a third time on her deal next week.

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Theresa May outlines four Brexit options, via Politico

In a letter to MPs, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set out the four options she believes the country has in light of Thursday’s decision by EU leaders to extend the Brexit deadline beyond next Friday.

The U.K. is faced with a four-way choice, May wrote late Friday.

The government could revoke Article 50 — which May called a betrayal of the Brexit vote; leave without a deal on April 12; pass her deal in a vote next week; or, “if it appears that there is not sufficient support” for a vote on her deal in parliament next week or if it is rejected for a third time, she could ask for an extension beyond April 12.

But this would require for the U.K. taking part in European elections in May, which the prime minister said “would be wrong.”

May wrote that she’s hoping for the deal to pass, allowing the U.K. to leave the EU “in an orderly way,” adding “I still believe there is a majority in the House for that course of action.”

“I hope we can all agree that we are now at the moment of decision,” she wrote.

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US media suffers panic attack after Mueller fails to deliver on much-anticipated Trump indictment

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

RT

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Via RT


Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.

The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Showing true integrity, journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller’s probe was likely to find. They are, after all, true professionals.

“How could they let Trump off the hook?” an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on CNN’s ‘Hardball’.

Dilanian tried to comfort the CNN host with some of his signature NBC punditry.

“My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn’t worth the subpoena fight,” he expertly mused.

Actually, there were several Serious Journalists who used their unsurpassed analytical abilities to conjure up a reason why Mueller didn’t throw the book at Trump, even though the president is clearly a Putin puppet.

“It’s certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it’s also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite ‘no more indictments,'” concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.

Revered news organs were quick to artfully modify their expectations regarding Mueller’s findings.

“What is collusion and why is Robert Mueller unlikely to mention it in his report on Trump and Russia?” a Newsweek headline asked following Friday’s tragic announcement.

Three months earlier, Newsweek had meticulously documented all the terrible “collusion” committed by Donald Trump and his inner circle.

But perhaps the most sobering reactions to the no-indictment news came from those who seemed completely unfazed by the fact that Mueller’s investigation, aimed at uncovering a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, ended without digging up a single case of “collusion.”

The denials, evasions and bizarre hot takes are made even more poignant by the fact that just days ago, there was still serious talk about Trump’s entire family being hauled off to prison.

“You can’t blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

While the Mueller report has yet to be released to the public, the lack of indictments makes it clear that whatever was found, nothing came close to the vast criminal conspiracy alleged by virtually the entire American media establishment.

“You have been lied to for 2 years by the MSM. No Russian collusion by Trump or anyone else. Who lied? Head of the CIA, NSA,FBI,DOJ, every pundit every anchor. All lies,” wrote conservative activist Chuck Woolery.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom was more blunt, but said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

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Canadian Lawmaker Accuses Trudeau Of Being A “Fake Feminist” (Video)

Rempel segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career

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Via Zerohedge

Canada’s feminist-in-chief Justin Trudeau wants to support and empower women…but his support stops at the point where said women start creating problems for his political agenda.

That was the criticism levied against the prime minister on Friday by a conservative lawmaker, who took the PM to task for “muzzling strong, principled women” during a debate in the House of Commons.

“He asked for strong women, and this is what they look like!” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel, referring to the former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau and his cronies of pushing her out of the cabinet after she refused to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to a Quebec-based engineering firm.

She then accused Trudeau of being a “fake feminist”.

“That’s not what a feminist looks like…Every day that he refuses to allow the attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he’s a fake feminist!”

Trudeau was so taken aback by Rempel’s tirade, that he apparently forgot which language he should respond in.

But Rempel wasn’t finished. She then segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career. This from a man who once objected to the continued use of the word “mankind” (suggesting we use “peoplekind” instead).

The conservative opposition then tried to summon Wilson-Raybould to appear before the Commons for another hearing (during her last appearance, she shared her account of how the PM and employees in the PM’s office and privy council barraged her with demands that she quash the government’s pursuit of SNC-Lavalin over charges that the firm bribed Libyan government officials). Wilson-Raybould left the Trudeau cabinet after she was abruptly moved to a different ministerial post – a move that was widely seen as a demotion.

Trudeau has acknowledged that he put in a good word on the firm’s behalf with Wilson-Raybould, but insists that he always maintained the final decision on the case was hers and hers alone.

Fortunately for Canadians who agree with Rempel, it’s very possible that Trudeau – who has so far resisted calls to resign – won’t be in power much longer, as the scandal has cost Trudeau’s liberals the lead in the polls for the October election.

 

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