If you don’t want war, don’t go looking for it

north_korea_submarinesUnless you are looking for a fight, don’t put your navy in Harm’s Way.  See this article by Matthew Rozsa in Salon, When the nuclear apocalypse happens, point to Donald Trump putting nukes in South Korea as a key moment“.

This is  Rozsa:    “On Saturday, U.S. Pacific Command announced that it was redirecting the Carl Vinson carrier strike group to the Korean peninsula. The strike group’s warfare capacity includes early warning radars, electronic-warfare technology, more than 300 missile tubes, and Hornets.

National security adviser H. R. McMaster told “Fox News Sunday” on Sunday that “the president has asked to be prepared to give him a full range of options to remove that threat to the American people and to our allies and partners in the region.”  McMaster added that, during Trump’s weekend summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, that both world leaders were concerned about North Korea’s rise as a nuclear power and that ‘President Xi and President Trump agreed that that is unacceptable, that what must happen is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.’”

So Trump is sending a carrier task force to the penisula and has determined that the Korean Penisula must be “denuclearized.”  What could go wrong?

 Here’s an example of what happens when you strut your stuff.  On February 15, 1898, the United States Battleship Maine exploded in the harbor in Havana, Cuba, bringing the United States into the Spanish-American War.  The Maine had been sent provocatively to Havana, ostensibly to protect American interests during a Cuban rebellion against Spain.  At the time, Americans such as Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt and Congressman Henry Cabot Lodge, and assorted journalists, including William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, were actively lobbying for war.  From their point of view, any war would do – they had pushed hard for war against England in 1895 over a border dispute in South America.  By 1898, they had successfully raised tensions against the Spanish, and the Maine was sent to Cuba to “send a message”.

Her sinking, probably from an uncontained coal fire reaching her magazine, became the pretext for a global conflict in which the U. S. flexed its muscles and stole Cuba and the Philippines from the Spain.  The rest of that story, not often told in the US, is that the Philippines did not receive the right to govern themselves until after World War II and American actions against Filipinos led to a minimum of tens of thousands of combat deaths of Filipino natives.  The natives in Cuba lived for the early part of the 20th Century under  an assortment of unstable regimes, periodic American interventions, and growing Mob influence until the Cuban revolution leading to Fidel Castro.   Teddy Roosevelt declared it all a great success and rode his charge at San Juan Hill to fame and fortune, but any objective view puts the US in the light of a venal bully out to gratify egos and pad pockets.  Anyone like that come to mind?

Which brings us to Trump’s order to the Vinson carrier strike force to proceed to the Korean Peninsula.  If Trump is sending the task force with the intent of starting a war, then he should seek authorization from Congress.  If Trump is “sending a message” to North Korea, that message may provoke, and may be intended to provoke, a North Korean response.  Maybe Trump thinks the North Koreans will roll over for us.  History suggests that events rarely comply with such facile expectations.  So what could go wrong?  How bad could it get?  Worse.  Much worse.



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