Caroline B. Glick writes: The nuclear confrontation between the US and North Korea entered a critical phase Sunday with North Korea’s conduct of an underground test of a thermonuclear bomb.
If the previous round of this confrontation earlier this summer revolved around Pyongyang’s threat to attack the US territory of Guam, Sunday’s test, together with North Korea’s recent tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the continental US, was a direct threat to US cities.
In other words, the current confrontation isn’t about US superpower status in Asia, and the credibility of US deterrence or the capabilities of US military forces in the Pacific. The confrontation is now about the US’s ability to protect the lives of its citizens.
The distinction tells us a number of important things. All of them are alarming.
First, because this is about the lives of Americans, rather than allied populations like Japan and South Korea, the US cannot be diffident in its response to North Korea’s provocation. While attenuated during the Obama administration, the US’s position has always been that US military forces alone are responsible for guaranteeing the collective security of the American people.
Pyongyang is now directly threatening that security with hydrogen bombs. So if the Trump administration punts North Korea’s direct threat to attack US population centers with nuclear weapons to the UN Security Council, it will communicate profound weakness to its allies and adversaries alike.
Obviously, this limits the options that the Trump administration has. But it also clarifies the challenge it faces.
The second implication of North Korea’s test of their plutonium-based bomb is that the US’s security guarantees, which form the basis of its global power and its alliance system are on the verge of becoming completely discredited. Read the rest of this entry »
Mattis retired from the Marine Corps as a full general in 2013, where he served as the eleventh commander of the United States Central Command. He also served as the commander for NATO supreme allied transformation, and as commander of the United States Joint Forces Command. Mattis is now an Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow fellow at the Hoover Institution.
A senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Sowell has published more than a dozen books, the latest of which is Dismantling America.In introducing his new book, Sowell asserts that the Obama administration “is the embodiment, the personification, and the culmination of dangerous trends that began decades ago,” trends that are “dismantling America.” Sowell sees this in the dismantling of marriage, of culture, and of self-government.
General James Mattis. General Mattis retired from the Marine Corps as a full general in 2013, where he served as the eleventh commander of the United States Central Command. He also served as the commander for NATO supreme allied transformation, and as commander of the United States Joint Forces Command. Mattis is an Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution.
According to government sources, Mattis likely did a stint in Okinawa for training during his career in the marines, but his views on Japan-U.S. relations are not known. The government is striving to gather Mattis’ remarks on the Asian-Pacific region and other matters.
The Yomiuri Shimbun reports: The Japanese government is hastening to gather information on retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, whom U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has chosen as the next secretary of defense. Mattis is said to have had hardly any contact with Japan and his stance toward Japan is unknown.
“The top brass of the U.S. forces has always valued the U.S.-Japan alliance. I don’t think [Mattis] is going to propose a reduction of U.S. bases in Japan.”
— Senior official of the Defense Ministry
In Japan, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada told reporters on Friday that she intends to build a good relationship with the United States “regardless of who [the next U.S. secretary of defense] is” by helping the new secretary to “fully recognize the importance of our ties.” Inada was inspecting the Air Self-Defense Force’s Gifu Air Base on the day.
According to government sources, Mattis likely did a stint in Okinawa for training during his career in the marines, but his views on Japan-U.S. relations are not known. The government is striving to gather Mattis’ remarks on the Asian-Pacific region and other matters. Read the rest of this entry »
Show of force comes amid transition to Trump
The missiles “can destroy U.S. Asia-Pacific bases at any time,” the dispatch from the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The flight tests were disclosed by China Central Television on Nov. 28 and coincide with President-elect Donald Trump’s high-profile announcements of new senior government officials.
Disclosure of the missile salvo launch comes as Trump announced on Thursday that he will nominate retired Marine Corps. Gen. James Mattis as his defense secretary. Mattis is one of the Corps’ most celebrated warfighting generals. Read the rest of this entry »
“I think there has been a furious counter attack by loyalists who are with Trump from the beginning when it was rather unfashionable, and Romney, of course, was the lead attacker, lead critic of Trump in the late primaries and general election. So, I understand why they feel there is a matter of loyalty.”
“You know, Trump is going to have to choose. If it’s loyalty, he is not going to choose Mitt Romney. If it’s choosing who would be the best man for the job, I think probably if you had an independent panel, they might, you know, marginally prefer a Mitt Romney, simply because he has less baggage than Giuliani. And Trump himself has said: He looks the part. I mean, he look like he was born to be a secretary of state. I don’t know whether that means he would be a good one or not.”
“But I do think we should keep our eye on a third possibility that would resolve the issue by not resolving it, and that would be David Petraeus, who to the world represents America at its strongest and most decisive. He is the guy who saved the Iraq War, and is a man who has written and thought deeply about the new kind of warfare that we are involved in. And that, I think, would be a spectacular choice.”
Source: National Review
The White House and Pentagon have scurried this week to insist there is no hint of dissent in the ranks, though in some cases their efforts have focused only more attention on the issue.
“Half-hearted or tentative efforts, or airstrikes alone, can backfire on us and actually strengthen our foes’ credibility. We may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American boots on the ground.”
— Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis
WaPo‘s Craig Whitlock reports: Flashes of disagreement over how to fight the Islamic State are mounting between President Obama and U.S. military leaders, the latest sign of strain in what often has been an awkward and uneasy relationship.
“I think it’s very important that he does follow the advice and counsel that he receives, the professional advice of the military. They are the ones best suited to do that.”
— Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Even as the administration has received congressional backing for its strategy, with the Senate voting Thursday to approve a plan to arm and train Syrian rebels, a series of military leaders have criticized the president’s approach against the Islamic State militant group.
“There will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy.”
— Former defense secretary Robert M. Gates
Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, who served under Obama until last year, became the latest high-profile skeptic on Thursday, telling the House Intelligence Committee that a blanket prohibition on ground combat was tying the military’s hands. “Half-hearted or tentative efforts, or airstrikes alone, can backfire on us and actually strengthen our foes’ credibility,” he said. “We may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American boots on the ground.” Read the rest of this entry »
Finding more palatable names for the War on Terror won’t change — or end — it.
“This war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands.”
— President Barack Obama at National Defense University, May 23, 2013
They say all is fair in love and war (I’m skeptical), but that doesn’t mean war and love have much in common. When it comes to love, both parties need to be in on it. In war, all it takes is one to tango. Sure, if the non-belligerent party doesn’t want to fight, it can try to talk, or cut a deal, or even surrender. But it’s up to the guys willing to kill to decide how things will proceed.
This is particularly relevant when two parties are at war and one side wants to stop. As legendary Marine general James Mattis has said, “No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.”
That line came immediately to mind last week when President Obama declared that history tells us the war on terror must end. As an objective statement of fact, that is of course true. The War on Terror must end. So must all life on this planet. But saying so doesn’t make it so. Some things must end on their own timetable.
In 1387, when the Hundred Years’ War was already a half-century old, Richard II undoubtedly would have very much liked the war to end. Butthe French didn’t want it to end on losing terms, so they kept fighting for another 66 years until the English were finally booted from French soil.
The Hundred Years’ War actually took 116 years. That is a really long time. A soldier in 1450 might have had a great-great-grandfather in the same war.
Of course, the Hundred Years’ War was really a series of wars, battles, and skirmishes that flared up and subsided over eleven and a half decades. You could say something similar about the Cold War. The Vietnam War and Korean War were flashpoints of a larger civilizational struggle.
A more apt comparison might be the long struggle between Islam and the Byzantine Empire, which began in the seventh century, in Mohammed’s lifetime. I have no doubt that Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos would have loved for that war to have ended a few centuries before he died in battle in 1453 defending Christian Constantinople. When he died, the Roman Empire died with him.
President Obama says, “We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us.” There’s some wisdom there. I never much liked the word “terrorism” because terrorism is a technique, not a worldview. If North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile at us, we would not respond by declaring war on ICBMs, but on North Korea. If al-Qaeda had a standing army, we’d still be at war with al-Qaeda, not standing armies.
But finding more palatable terms for this war will no more end it than defining manure as a sweet-smelling flower will change the odor. After five years of using methods he now condemns, the president now says the global War on Terror is in effect over and what must replace it is a planet-wide battle on terrorist networks. That’s an interesting distinction. As military analyst Bing West writes, “English translation: The war on Islamic terrorists is not boundless, but it does encircle the globe.” No doubt the Americans — and jihadists — doing the fighting will not notice much of a change.
A lot remains unknown about what Obama actually intends to do — or will be able to accomplish regardless of his intentions. He is very fond, at least rhetorically, of treating terrorism as a law-enforcement issue. If we aren’t attacked for a while, his new approach will seem wise. If we are attacked, it will seem like folly.
And that’s basically the point. We know that there are plenty of Islamists eager to murder Westerners, even cut off our heads in broad daylight. No one doubts that they’d use something more lethal than a rusty machete if given the opportunity. And so the success or failure of Obama’s grand strategic vision depends entirely on what our enemies do next. That’s because they get a vote, and they vote “nay.”
KENNETH ABBATE/US NAVY
WASHINGTON — The Navy said Saturday it is replacing the admiral in command of an aircraft carrier strike group in the Middle East, pending the outcome of an internal investigation into undisclosed allegations of inappropriate judgment.
Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette is being sent back to the USS John C. Stennis’ home port at Bremerton, Wash., in what the Navy called a temporary reassignment. The Navy said he is not formally relieved of his command of the Stennis strike group but will be replaced by Rear Adm. Troy M. Shoemaker, who will assume command until the investigation is completed.
It is highly unusual for the Navy to replace a carrier strike group commander during its deployment.
The Navy did not reveal details of the allegations, citing only an accusation of “inappropriate leadership judgment” that arose during the strike group’s deployment to the Middle East. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Navy’s chief spokesman, declined to discuss the investigation.
The Stennis group deployed from Bremerton in late August and had entered the Navy 5th Fleet’s area of operations in the Middle East on Oct. 17 after sailing across the Pacific. The Stennis made port visits in Thailand and Malaysia on its way to the Middle East.
It deployed four months earlier than scheduled in response to a request by the commander of U.S. Central Command, Marine Gen. James Mattis, to maintain two aircraft carriers in the Middle East. The Stennis replaced the USS Enterprise carrier group.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited the Stennis and its sailors in Bremerton shortly before they departed. He thanked them for accelerating their deployment on short notice.
“I understand that it is tough,” Panetta said. “We are asking an awful lot of each of you, but frankly you are the best I have and when the world calls we have to respond.”
via Navy – Stripes