Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry
If you haven’t been following the Strangelovian Korea debacle – so many debacles, so little time – it’s still, alas, unfolding thanks to our utterly clueless loser-in-chief and his historically inept administration. To recap: In response to new nuclear missile tests and accompanying rising tensions with North Korea, Trump puffed up his Cheeto-and-Big-Mac-filled chest and tossed out the bellicose boast that America’s “building our military rapidly” and actually at this very moment, “We are sending an armada. Very powerful” that can go boom boom, so there. It didn’t take the media long to notice that photos of the so-called armada – the Navy destroyer Carl Vinson and support ships – showed it actually steaming away from the Korean Peninsula in the other direction, toward previously scheduled joint exercises with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean 3,500 miles away.
Oops. The fiasco became the property of hapless Sean Spicer, who tried calling the deployment a prudent “deterrence,” stammering that, “We have an armada going toward the peninsula. That’s a fact,” and desperately doubling down while deflecting blame with, “We said that it was heading there, and it was heading there – it is heading there. … If there was an impression, then there should have been clarification from people who were seeking it.” Rex Tillerson also chimed in that the Vinson was “routinely in the Pacific” because it “sails up and down.” R-i-g-h-t, came the universal response from a skeptical media who alternately mocked and blasted the reckless, incoherent mess as yet one more lie, or, perhaps scarier, “dangerous buffoonery,” an example of “Schrodinger’s U.S. aircraft carrier,” “a group effort in humiliation, “a glitch-ridden sequence of events” from premature announcement to erroneous explanation, or, from Charlie Pierce, “a further demonstration of the clusterfuckish management style there at Camp Runamuck” – though he generously added, “Who among us has not misplaced an aircraft carrier?”
Here’s the thing: It keeps getting worse. Because it wasn’t enough to mindlessly mouth off – thus setting up a false narrative the U.S. was considering a pre-emptive military strike in one of the world’s most volatile regions – and then lose the fleet he was threatening them with, the Dumpster went on to commit a series of laughable-if-they-weren’t- so-terrifying gaffes that offended pretty much everyone in that aforementioned volatile area. Thus did he evidently confuse North Korea’s Kim Jong-un with his father and/or grandfather, and then marvel with dementia-tinged incoherence, after a 10-minute history lesson from Chinese leader Xi Jinping, that, “Korea actually used to be a part of China…I realized that not – it’s not so easy…But it’s not what you would think. It’s not what you would think.”
For once, he’s right. In fact, Korea was not part of China, and Koreans and lots of other sentient beings rushed to tell him. Asian allies were reportedly appalled by the “unpredictable, unhinged, dangerous” Cheeto on display. (Good thing they don’t know he also can’t spell “education,” but we digress.) South Korean media and government officials dismissed his “ridiculous claim” not even “worthy of response,” savaged his “shocking ignorance,” huffed that, “It’s a clear fact acknowledged by the international community that, for thousands of years of history, Korea has never been part of China,” and said that, “The 50 million South Koreans, as well as many common-sensical people around the world, cannot help but feel embarrassed and shocked” by such pathological ignorance. We feel their pain.
“Based on the findings of the report, my conclusion was that this idea was not a practical deterrent for reasons which at this moment must be all too obvious.” – Dr. Strangelove
First published in Common Dreams.