Ethics Quote Of The Month: President Donald J. Trump

“In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch. This week gives our country a special reason to take pride in that example. We are celebrating the 230th anniversary of our beloved Constitution — the oldest constitution still in use in the world today.

This timeless document has been the foundation of peace, prosperity, and freedom for the Americans and for countless millions around the globe whose own countries have found inspiration in its respect for human nature, human dignity, and the rule of law.”

—-President Trump, in his address to the United Nations, today.

Below is the whole speech.

Let’s guess how the pundits will attack it, as you know they will.  Personally, I think it is exactly what the United Nations, and the world, needs to hear from the U.S., especially this part:

“The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure. Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.”

But my favorite line, which only the President could have inserted, was this:

“Major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell.”

The President owes me a keyboard for that one.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, world leaders, and distinguished delegates: Welcome to New York. It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city, as a representative of the American people, to address the people of the world.

As millions of our citizens continue to suffer the effects of the devastating hurricanes that have struck our country, I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to every leader in this room who has offered assistance and aid. The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.

Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8th. The stock market is at an all-time high — a record. Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before. Companies are moving back, creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time. And it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense.

Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been. For more than 70 years, in times of war and peace, the leaders of nations, movements, and religions have stood before this assembly. Like them, I intend to address some of the very serious threats before us today but also the enormous potential waiting to be unleashed.

We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity. Breakthroughs in science, technology, and medicine are curing illnesses and solving problems that prior generations thought impossible to solve.

But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value. Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet. Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.

Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.

International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people; force dislocation and mass migration; threaten our borders; and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens.

To put it simply, we meet at a time of both of immense promise and great peril. It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights, or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.

We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred, and fear.

This institution was founded in the aftermath of two world wars to help shape this better future. It was based on the vision that diverse nations could cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security, and promote their prosperity.

It was in the same period, exactly 70 years ago, that the United States developed the Marshall Plan to help restore Europe. Those three beautiful pillars — they’re pillars of peace, sovereignty, security, and prosperity.

The Marshall Plan was built on the noble idea that the whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent, and free. As President Truman said in his message to Congress at that time, “Our support of European recovery is in full accord with our support of the United Nations. The success of the United Nations depends upon the independent strength of its members.”

To overcome the perils of the present and to achieve the promise of the future, we must begin with the wisdom of the past. Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security, prosperity, and peace for themselves and for the world.

We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government. But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties: to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation. This is the beautiful vision of this institution, and this is foundation for cooperation and success.

Strong, sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures, and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect.

Strong, sovereign nations let their people take ownership of the future and control their own destiny. And strong, sovereign nations allow individuals to flourish in the fullness of the life intended by God.

In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch. This week gives our country a special reason to take pride in that example. We are celebrating the 230th anniversary of our beloved Constitution — the oldest constitution still in use in the world today.

This timeless document has been the foundation of peace, prosperity, and freedom for the Americans and for countless millions around the globe whose own countries have found inspiration in its respect for human nature, human dignity, and the rule of law.

The greatest in the United States Constitution is its first three beautiful words. They are: “We the people.”

Generations of Americans have sacrificed to maintain the promise of those words, the promise of our country, and of our great history. In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs.

In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty. Our government’s first duty is to its people, to our citizens — to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values.

As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first. (Applause.)

All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.

But making a better life for our people also requires us to work together in close harmony and unity to create a more safe and peaceful future for all people.

The United States will forever be a great friend to the world, and especially to its allies. But we can no longer be taken advantage of, or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return. As long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interests above all else.

But in fulfilling our obligations to our own nations, we also realize that it’s in everyone’s interest to seek a future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous, and secure.

America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations Charter. Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall. America’s devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies, from the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia.

It is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerged victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion, or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others. Instead, we helped build institutions such as this one to defend the sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

For the diverse nations of the world, this is our hope. We want harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife. We are guided by outcomes, not ideology. We have a policy of principled realism, rooted in shared goals, interests, and values.

That realism forces us to confront a question facing every leader and nation in this room. It is a question we cannot escape or avoid. We will slide down the path of complacency, numb to the challenges, threats, and even wars that we face. Or do we have enough strength and pride to confront those dangers today, so that our citizens can enjoy peace and prosperity tomorrow?

If we desire to lift up our citizens, if we aspire to the approval of history, then we must fulfill our sovereign duties to the people we faithfully represent. We must protect our nations, their interests, and their futures. We must reject threats to sovereignty, from the Ukraine to the South China Sea. We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow. And just as the founders of this body intended, we must work together and confront together those who threaten us with chaos, turmoil, and terror.

The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based. They respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries.

If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph. When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.

No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea. It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more.

We were all witness to the regime’s deadly abuse when an innocent American college student, Otto Warmbier, was returned to America only to die a few days later. We saw it in the assassination of the dictator’s brother using banned nerve agents in an international airport. We know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl from a beach in her own country to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea’s spies.

If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life.

It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply, and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict. No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.

It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future. The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council. Thank you to all involved.

But we must do much more. It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior.

We face this decision not only in North Korea. It is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime — one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. The longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are, in fact, its own people.

Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian lives, its oil profits go to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors. This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran’s people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship, fuel Yemen’s civil war, and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East.

We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. (Applause.) The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me.

It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction. It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained. And above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.

The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most. This is what causes the regime to restrict Internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protestors, and imprison political reformers.

Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror? Or will the Iranian people return to the nation’s proud roots as a center of civilization, culture, and wealth where their people can be happy and prosperous once again?

The Iranian regime’s support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its financing.

In Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations. We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamist extremism that inspires them.

We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation, and indeed to tear up the entire world.

We must deny the terrorists safe haven, transit, funding, and any form of support for their vile and sinister ideology. We must drive them out of our nations. It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries who support and finance terror groups like al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban and others that slaughter innocent people.

The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people.

Last month, I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan. From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operations, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians.

I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups. In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS. In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined.

We seek the de-escalation of the Syrian conflict, and a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens — even innocent children — shock the conscience of every decent person. No society can be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread. That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.

We appreciate the efforts of United Nations agencies that are providing vital humanitarian assistance in areas liberated from ISIS, and we especially thank Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees from the Syrian conflict.

The United States is a compassionate nation and has spent billions and billions of dollars in helping to support this effort. We seek an approach to refugee resettlement that is designed to help these horribly treated people, and which enables their eventual return to their home countries, to be part of the rebuilding process.

For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region. Out of the goodness of our hearts, we offer financial assistance to hosting countries in the region, and we support recent agreements of the G20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible. This is the safe, responsible, and humanitarian approach.

For decades, the United States has dealt with migration challenges here in the Western Hemisphere. We have learned that, over the long term, uncontrolled migration is deeply unfair to both the sending and the receiving countries.

For the sending countries, it reduces domestic pressure to pursue needed political and economic reform, and drains them of the human capital necessary to motivate and implement those reforms.

For the receiving countries, the substantial costs of uncontrolled migration are borne overwhelmingly by low-income citizens whose concerns are often ignored by both media and government.

I want to salute the work of the United Nations in seeking to address the problems that cause people to flee from their homes. The United Nations and African Union led peacekeeping missions to have invaluable contributions in stabilizing conflicts in Africa. The United States continues to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, including famine prevention and relief in South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria and Yemen.

We have invested in better health and opportunity all over the world through programs like PEPFAR, which funds AIDS relief; the President’s Malaria Initiative; the Global Health Security Agenda; the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery; and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, part of our commitment to empowering women all across the globe.

We also thank — (applause) — we also thank the Secretary General for recognizing that the United Nations must reform if it is to be an effective partner in confronting threats to sovereignty, security, and prosperity. Too often the focus of this organization has not been on results, but on bureaucracy and process.

In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution’s noble aims have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them. For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more. In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes. The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but, to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it.

Major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell. But the powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations, can solve many of these vicious and complex problems.

The American people hope that one day soon the United Nations can be a much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world. In the meantime, we believe that no nation should have to bear a disproportionate share of the burden, militarily or financially. Nations of the world must take a greater role in promoting secure and prosperous societies in their own regions.

That is why in the Western Hemisphere, the United States has stood against the corrupt and destabilizing regime in Cuba and embraced the enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom. My administration recently announced that we will not lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms.

We have also imposed tough, calibrated sanctions on the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela, which has brought a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse.

The socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country. This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried. To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives to preserve his disastrous rule.

The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing. Their democratic institutions are being destroyed. This situation is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch.

As a responsible neighbor and friend, we and all others have a goal. That goal is to help them regain their freedom, recover their country, and restore their democracy. I would like to thank leaders in this room for condemning the regime and providing vital support to the Venezuelan people.

The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable. We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.

We are fortunate to have incredibly strong and healthy trade relationships with many of the Latin American countries gathered here today. Our economic bond forms a critical foundation for advancing peace and prosperity for all of our people and all of our neighbors.

I ask every country represented here today to be prepared to do more to address this very real crisis. We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela. (Applause.)

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. (Applause.) From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure. Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.

America stands with every person living under a brutal regime. Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action. All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests, and their wellbeing, including their prosperity.

In America, we seek stronger ties of business and trade with all nations of good will, but this trade must be fair and it must be reciprocal.

For too long, the American people were told that mammoth multinational trade deals, unaccountable international tribunals, and powerful global bureaucracies were the best way to promote their success. But as those promises flowed, millions of jobs vanished and thousands of factories disappeared. Others gamed the system and broke the rules. And our great middle class, once the bedrock of American prosperity, was forgotten and left behind, but they are forgotten no more and they will never be forgotten again.

While America will pursue cooperation and commerce with other nations, we are renewing our commitment to the first duty of every government: the duty of our citizens. This bond is the source of America’s strength and that of every responsible nation represented here today.

If this organization is to have any hope of successfully confronting the challenges before us, it will depend, as President Truman said some 70 years ago, on the “independent strength of its members.” If we are to embrace the opportunities of the future and overcome the present dangers together, there can be no substitute for strong, sovereign, and independent nations — nations that are rooted in their histories and invested in their destinies; nations that seek allies to befriend, not enemies to conquer; and most important of all, nations that are home to patriots, to men and women who are willing to sacrifice for their countries, their fellow citizens, and for all that is best in the human spirit.

In remembering the great victory that led to this body’s founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil also fought for the nations that they loved.

Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain.

Today, if we do not invest ourselves, our hearts, and our minds in our nations, if we will not build strong families, safe communities, and healthy societies for ourselves, no one can do it for us.

We cannot wait for someone else, for faraway countries or far-off bureaucrats — we can’t do it. We must solve our problems, to build our prosperity, to secure our futures, or we will be vulnerable to decay, domination, and defeat.

The true question for the United Nations today, for people all over the world who hope for better lives for themselves and their children, is a basic one: Are we still patriots? Do we love our nations enough to protect their sovereignty and to take ownership of their futures? Do we revere them enough to defend their interests, preserve their cultures, and ensure a peaceful world for their citizens?

One of the greatest American patriots, John Adams, wrote that the American Revolution was “effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.”

That was the moment when America awoke, when we looked around and understood that we were a nation. We realized who we were, what we valued, and what we would give our lives to defend. From its very first moments, the American story is the story of what is possible when people take ownership of their future.

The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

Now we are calling for a great reawakening of nations, for the revival of their spirits, their pride, their people, and their patriotism.

History is asking us whether we are up to the task. Our answer will be a renewal of will, a rediscovery of resolve, and a rebirth of devotion. We need to defeat the enemies of humanity and unlock the potential of life itself.

Our hope is a word and world of proud, independent nations that embrace their duties, seek friendship, respect others, and make common cause in the greatest shared interest of all: a future of dignity and peace for the people of this wonderful Earth.

This is the true vision of the United Nations, the ancient wish of every people, and the deepest yearning that lives inside every sacred soul.

So let this be our mission, and let this be our message to the world: We will fight together, sacrifice together, and stand together for peace, for freedom, for justice, for family, for humanity, and for the almighty God who made us all.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless the nations of the world. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

209 thoughts on “Ethics Quote Of The Month: President Donald J. Trump

  1. The President’s address to the UN reads like something that reflects that he has upgraded his speechwriting staff. Every little bit helps.

    As we tap our keyboards, a supervolcano is threatening to blow in Italy. If it does indeed blow, a significant fraction of the human race will be facing an acute crisis and threat to its survival unlike any war or disease that humanity has seen since perhaps the plagues (known and unknown) of recent millennia. I do not view the United Nations as a body or organization that is capable, prepared, or even willing to lead humanity through such a crisis.

    Meanwhile, I keep praying for Japan to shoot down North Korea’s next missile launch, even if it is launched only for a test.

  2. Thanks for posting the transcript. In all honesty, I haven’t been paying attention to much of anything on the national level in 2017. I write off news snippets as slanted and can hardly bring myself to watch the president speak, but reading this transcript was a nice boost to morale.

          • It’s amazing to me how much the Overton window has shifted as a result of Trump’s presidency.

            “The media shouldn’t overreact every time Trump sends a mean tweet” has slid now to “The media shouldn’t overreact every time Trump threatens to destroy an entire nation.”

            Man, “A Nation of Assholes” was truly prophetic. The level of sheer apathy I see here about President Trump’s behavior lately is startling.

            • North Korea has been rattling sabers for literally generations now, and as they ramped up their rhetoric and capabilities, they made the possibility of a confrontation more and more likely. Unlike say… Vietnam, there is an actual security risk to America, as Kim’s “I’m crazy and I have guns!” routine is less of a deterrent and more of a threat when the guns can shoot a significant chunk of America.

              I don’t think it’s apathy… I think it’s a recognition that *something* had to be done about it. I mean… How much more provocation does the world need before it takes care of the guy blasting missiles over Japan to step in and stop him? How apathetic are the people wanting desperately to avert their gaze, pretend it doesn’t exist, and hope that it goes away?

              • Another angle on it: what little we know of the North Koreans suggests that they have Qadaffi very much in mind. He gave up the pursuit of nukes on the basis of a western promise: and look where it got him.

                To believe. as Trumpists are wont to claim, that they will back down in the face of overwhelming deterrence, is to fundamentally misunderstand their motivations.

                The biggest concern we all should have is that we have no clear idea of Kim’s intentions. If he’s rational at all (and it’s dangerous to assume that your enemies are truly suicidal and crazy, as Trump actually seems to be claiming), then it’s a Big Mistake to believe that his rationale is our rationale, or even what we believe our rationale would be if we were in his shoes. There’s no escaping the value of actually understanding your enemy. Except of course Trump shows less-than-zero interest in answering that critical question.

                • There’s two main possibilities:

                  1) Un is insane. Maybe he even believes that he is a God, although it would have to be debilitating to his ego to have to poop on a regular basis. He’s crazy and he has guns, and he’s funneling money into the guns, and his R&D department will eventually have something truly dangerous. Eventually, the risk portfolio of serious harm to America overcomes the risk portfolio of the harm inherent in Korea’s death throes… At which point he will be overthrown, captured, and then killed or put on trial.

                  2) Un is sane, but he was born into a fucked up situation. He enjoyed the trappings of dictatorship, but now problems that started long before he was born are starting to come to a head. If he drops the facade, he’ll probably be overthrown, captured, and killed or put on trial. If he doesn’t, if he continues to gradually ramp up his danger rating until the risk portfolio of serious harm to America overcomes the risk portfolio of the harm inherent in Korea’s death throes… At which point he will be overthrown, captured, and then killed or put on trial.

                  All roads lead to Rome.

                  • Scenario 2 seems more plausible to me, except the part where he is overthrown.

                    Hitler nearly got overthrown, but in North Korea, the populace very nearly does revere him; they fold cloths that he touched, etc. So I think the logic train may break down at the part where he gets overthrown. There is little to no apparent opposition – who would want to visibly oppose a guy who machine-guns his uncle?

                    • When I said “overthrown” I meant it in a way synonymous with “displaced” whether the people of Korea rise up, or Americans go in blazing, he’ll still be captured and tried or killed.

      • Which means “Obama wouldn’t talk like that,” and that’s all it means.

        On ABC, Terry Moran and anchor George Stephanopoulos were discussing the portion of Trump’s speech in which he issued a stern threat against North Korea.

        “The United States has great strength and patience,” Trump said. “But if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

        “You can read that possibly to even open up a justification for preventative war against North Korea,” George Stephanopoulos said.

        “That is a potential justification,” Moran said. “But the words ‘totally destroy’-ing a nation of 25 million people — that borders on the threat of committing a war crime.”

        What typical anti-military nonsense. The Left pushes the false ethics that warfare to be decisive is immoral. When a nation says, “Attack us and our people, and we will destroy you. Go ahead, try it.” that is the proper way to deter aggression…not fake red lines, not “diplomacy.” People like Moran think Truman was a war criminal. Wars last forever because we are afraid to use overwhelming force. What Trump said was strong and ethical: if you try to hurt us once, you won’t get a second chance. Or “Go ahead, make my day.” I feel safer already.

        That’s no “war crime.” And the US shouldn’t accept the authority or jurisdiction of anyone who claims it is. Nations have the right of self defense, and the US is responsible to say “We have an arsenal that dwarfs anyone else. Don’t think we’re bluffing. Back off.” And if they don’t, they were warned.

        Mediaite, which has evenly divided partisan reporters and pundits, gave this to one of the antiTrump variety. It begins by trying to give this idiotic characterization credibility by saying that Moran is not prone to hyperbole. Well, the statement speaks for itself: it is an anti-warfare misleading description by a reporter who has no understanding of leadership or deterrence.

        • Which means “Obama wouldn’t talk like that,” and that’s all it means.

          I don’t recall any president who threatened to destroy an entire country, but I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

          • The only difference is that Trump, not being a lawyer, leaves no question what he means. During a press conference in 1993, President Bill Clinton warned that the U.S. would wage total war against North Korea with appropriate provocation.

            “I know of no one who seriously believes that the United States and [South Korea] would be defeated in a war of aggression by North Korea if they were to attack,” he said. “And I made it as clear as I could that if they were to do that, they would pay a price so great that the nation would probably not survive as it is known today.”

            Trump is blunt, that’s all. The threat is the same.

          • Any president in the past, while prosecuting a war, who has elevated the standard of peace to “unconditional surrender”, has, in other terms, threatened to “totally destroy” the enemy nation, barring that nation’s complete capitulation; and our nation has done this several times. In this case, Trump has merely suppressed verbalizing the victory conditions (in this case, the victory conditions are “North Korea, behave”) and vocalized the threat.

            But in all wars, the threat is real. And in the case of World War 2, the threat was *realized*. Anyone characterizing Germany and Japan as anything other than totally destroyed is burdening themselves with too much hair splitting. But, then again, you’ve got to get Trump on something, so pedantry is the way to go.

            There’s nothing wrong with making a threat like that against an actor like North Korea.

            This is a silly hill to dig into.

          • “Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

            The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.


            As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

            No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.”

  3. Oh hey he hired some competent speech writers?

    This was an excellent read and I hope he continues down this path: there is a mix of very formal language that I would expect from a world leader, and some of (what feels like at least) his own influences (as you mentioned “going to hell”)

  4. I’m surprised no one here has zeroed in on this part, the most widely covered part of the speech (at least in my circles):

    The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.

    What do we think of this line? Responsible? Ethical?

    • I just wrote about it. Responsible, ethical, and 100% correct. Attack us, and you die. Simple as that. And unlike Obama, Trump can be believed. It’s called fair warning, deterrence, and self-defense.

      • Then we simply do not share the same ethics. Threatening to wipe out an entire country is not ethical in my book. Period. It is unlikely yo will be able to convince me otherwise.

        • It’s not “threatening to wipe out a whole country.” It is stating that the right of self-defense will be executed in absolute terms, with deadly force.

          If you don’t understand that, then you should never be responsible for protecting a nation from align aggressors. I would use deadly force to protect my family, and I expect a US leader to be willing and ready to use deadly force to protect me. It is troubling that this even a matter of controversy.

          • It’s not “threatening to wipe out a whole country.”

            Of course it is. What do you think “totally destroy” means? You can say that threatening to wipe out a whole country is justified as part of the right to self-defense. I’ll disagree with you that this is in any way necessary, but I’ll respect the argument more than “Trump didn’t say what he clearly and unambiguously said.”

            • An utterly inane comment, Chris. Let me help your poor, tortured, literal soul.

              Destroying a country does not mean killing off every living person. What it means is destroying it’s capacity to wage war and continue as a political entity. It means reducing it to a bunch of civilians with no central leadership and no effective political class. At that point, the country is effectively destroyed.

              We did not destroy Iraq, for example. We decapitated it and defeated its army, but we didn’t try to wipe out its entire political class, particularly the opposition. But with North Korea, the entire political class is evil, and there is no effective opposition.

              There, now maybe your tender sensibilities about Trumps mean old words might be assuaged slightly.

                  • I agree.

                    North Korea is not self sustainable by any stretch of the imagination and them going to war would decimate the country; at this point in time the best solution would be for the people of North Korea to remove Kim Jong-un from office, begin active negotiations to merge North Korea with China or reunify with South Korea as one Korea, and put Kim Jong-un on trial for crimes against the people of North Korea. I don’t think South Korea’s economy could absorb North Korea without sending it into economic chaos, so I think China is the best choice.

                    • “the best solution would be for the people of North Korea to remove Kim Jong-un from office.”

                      True. But there is zero evidence of ANY viable opposition or resistance to Kim in the country. Which is understandable, given that he’s willing to poison a half-brother and artillery-gun an uncle to death.

                      Kim Il Sung came to power in 1948; that’s 69 years of brainwashing into thinking the Kims are gods. We have zero contacts with this mythical resistance movement.

                      Who you gonna get to bell the cat?

              • Totally destroy is what the Allies did to Germany, Italy, Romania, The Balkans, and Japan. No more government.

                The we replaced that government and rebuilt the infrastructure.

                The best thing in the world for almost any country is for the USA to ‘totally destroy’ them and then rebuild like the Marshall Plan.

                Note we did not do this for Iraq or Afghanistan…

                • slickwilly wrote, “Note we did not do this for Iraq or Afghanistan…”

                  In all fairness, there really was not an absolute defeat in Iraq or Afghanistan (like Europe and Japan) to set in place a massive rebuilding effort; there was a “very near victory” and a withdrawal.

        • I think he meant we would bring down the regime not annilate the poor citizens on NK that he had expressed symphony. I think this because of his statement about Rocket Man. In other words, Kim Dumb Dumb and his military.

        • One sustained massive non-nuclear strike will wipe out all of North Koreas military capability ,infrastructure, as well as its leadership. You assume that totally destroying the country means killing every human being. We destroyed Germany in ww2 and did so without using nukes. For those who may have forgotten, the calculus in using the atom bomb on Hiroshima was based on saving lives that would otherwise be lost due to protracted fighting. The Japanese were unwilling to surrender despite being being forced back to its own shores. It took two bombs to get Hirohito to agree to surrender.

          • You assume that totally destroying the country means killing every human being.

            Gee, it’s not like presidents have an ethical duty to use clear language or anything, especially when discussing matters of life and death…

            But hey, Trump had abdicated all ethical duties and pointing that out at this point is just bias and a violation of the Julie Principle. Let’s talk more about things that really matter, like Hillary’s book.

            • Gee, it’s not like presidents have an ethical duty to use clear language or anything, especially when discussing matters of life and death…

              No, they don’t. Especially not when making threats. When you make a threat, one of the things that makes the threat effective is the exact interpretation that you are so ruefully embracing — the literal one.

              Rhetoric, particularly saber-rattling (which is something the US has a long tradition of) is often terrifying and “Can he really mean that?” severe. The execution of a war plan is completely different from the rhetoric.

              But you know that.

              • Trump’s statement in this case WAS clear, to anyone not so biased that they were capable of understanding it. Japan was “destroyed,” Nazi Germany was “destroyed”, the Confederacy was “destroyed.” The meaning isn’t unclear: literally nobody but idiots and hysterics believe that the warning means “we will kill every man, woman and child,sow the land with salt, flatten all the buildings and leave the former nation a vast wasteland.

                • Well, apparently not clear enough for Chris, alas. Theoretically, you can make an argument, absent little things like history, context, human nature and other critical aspects of communication, that “totally destroyed” means annihilation of all life.

                  Then again, you’d have to be unwilling to consider all those other things I mentioned. Pretty much as you suggest.

                • As an aside, does anyone think our armed forces commanders would accept and implement an order to destroy all human life in North Korea?

                  If you do, you should really back slowly away from the keyboard and get some professional help.

                  • As you know, ever since Viet Nam, and bolstered by Iraq, a dangerous proportion of the population is cryto-pacifist, a bit like before WWII. Obama was the worst result of that, pulling out of Iraq when he had to know that it would cause death and chaos; refusing to use American power to stop virtual genocide in Syria, and letting Iran get off with just delaying its plans to destroy Israel for a few years. I get it: War is Hell. But the position is moral grandstanding an unmoored from reality.

                    • Moral grandstanding is the air the left breathes. It has become de riguer for them to get the vapors at any suggestion of the least amount of violence, unless it is their moral duty to actually do the violence.

                      Of course, everyone who disagrees with them is a Nazi, so violence is justified there. But perish the thought of plowing the NorK leadership to kingdom come, that is unjustified.

        • What Chris said.

          I haven’t been writing here a lot lately, and I have noticed that a lot of other liberal-leaning commenters have dropped as well. (I am still reading every day though.) While I have come to respect many of the usual suspects in this strange virtual world that we have created, I have to accept that we just process information profoundly differently. I can find middle ground with many of you on social issues, but we are worlds apart when it comes to economics and politics. I’m not saying that I’m right, and I’m certainly that you’re (you defined as the collective “you”) right either, but what is the point? You will never convince me, and I will never convince you. We might as well be debating the existence of God for all the progress that we have made. Perhaps we can make the case that we strive to be collegial and listen to each other, but the truth is that most of us came to this blog with A’s in that subject anyway.

          I’m going to go to bed now — assuming I can get one of Elton John’s greatest hits out of my head.

          • I have many theories about the progressive exodus. One is that they only have their narratives, and are unwilling to confront the ludicrous conduct of the “side” they threw in with. There’s no defending Hillary; there’s no defending the news media. What Trump has done that works, they refuse to admit; what “the resistance” has done that is divisive and despicable, they refuse to condemn. They could convince others here, if they had any facts. What argument are there for allowing illegal immigration? What arguments are there that a legal firing for cause is “obstruction of justice”? Who wants to have to defend Hillary’s contention that the news media was PRO TRUMP? Who can defend CNN’s version of “journalism,” or the argument that an NFL team should hire a mediocre quarterback whose half-baked protest cost the NFL viewers and revenues? Who can argue that Betsy DeVos isn’t dead-on to abandon the “Dear colleague letter?” It’s not a happy choice: argue impossible positions that require an abandonment of logic and integrity, or say, “Well, you’re right; I was wrong to trust these people.”

            By the way, Chris and Charlie Green, to name two, have shown that they will abandon the talking points when they are just plain wrong. So have you.

              • Really, Chris, what a lazy, non-substantive and biased comment, though telling.

                When Trump, or anyone else, does something right, he should be given credit. When he, or anyone else, does something wrong, he should be criticized. When he is held to a double standard and attacked by those who praised their own for doing the same things, he, and anyone else, should be defended, by anyone.with integrity.

                Your statement is pure bias. I have directly defended the President and persuasively so. Anyone can be defended, and anyone should be, when it is warranted. That comment demonstrates a mindset that is antithetical to ethical and objective analysis.

                • How is my statement any more lazy or biased than your statement that “There’s no defending Hillary; there’s no defending the news media?”

                  • It’s different because that statement had a specific context, and clearly meant “…in this matter.” There are many episode where I have or could have written “there is no defending Trump” and have, as with his Muslims celebrating 9-11 nonsense, or his sexist attack on Megyn Kelly, or his appointment of Scaramucci, or his appointment of Sessions, or his appointment of Bannon and Preibus, or about a hundred others here. YOU said “there is no defending Trump” as a human being, a President, and an individual, presumably ever, since you gave no context. That’s lazy, and the tu quoque retort is even lazier.

                    Start looking at Trump’s conduct and words as if you hadn’t already made up your mind about him, Chris. That’s what I have to do. I have faith in you. You can do it; you just don’t want to.

          • Now I’m curious. What are your positions on economics and politics?

            Mine are as follows: No proposed system of economics or politics will work as long as humans stay the way they are. We need to change how humans think by empowering them with greater mental skills and responsibility (the former being necessary for the latter). Then we can work out from there what the best economic and political systems to implement would be.

        • Chris,
          You’re ignoring that North Korea has been threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear war and they are striving to develop the physical means to carry out that war; do you want a nuclear war with North Korea?

          What Trump said is an effective negotiation tactic in the art of diplomacy on the world stage and other than his “Rocket Man” insult, it was very Presidential. Directing such language towards adversaries that are literally threatening to physically attack your country and start a nuclear war is warranted. With North Korea’s flagrant displays of nuclear weapons and missile capabilities and the direct verbal threats towards the United States, anything less than what Trump said would be sending the wrong message. The goal is to deter North Korea from its current path and whether you “like” it or not, North Korea has been warned.

          We don’t want a cowering weenie in the Office of the President of the United States when facing a rogue nation that has literally threatened to attack the United States with nuclear weapons and is doing everything within it’s power to achieve the physical means to do so. We actually need someone who is very direct and very blunt with the likes of North Korea and has shown that “red lines” are something other than toothless rhetoric; Trump has stepped up to the challenge to protect the United States and leftist political hacks are attacking him for it.

          Chris, do you want Trump to fail in his efforts to stop a nuclear war with North Korea before it starts? Think about that while you are condemning Trump for his diplomatic tactic.

      • It’s called total warfare. It’s brutal, it’s merciless, and it is relentlessly effective. Sherman burned Atlanta to the ground, and by the time he reached Savannah and was ready to wheel north to Charleston, the Confederates were crumpling like cheap writing paper and offering no resistance. The United States wasn’t playing when it dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and told Japan “surrender or we’ll turn your homeland into a crater of radioactive slag.” The “41 for freedom” weren’t out there just for show. Every day those huge boats that the Soviets could never seriously hope to find were out there, each packing enough punch to ruin their homeland and backed by the will to do it was one more day they didn’t do something stupid.

        It’s because of these actions that we’re still here and free today, and it’s because Trump is apparently as resolute as Truman and Reagan that we’ll all still be here tomorrow, and North Korea will one day go the way of Gaddafi’s Libya. Destruction of a whole nation is neither desirable nor terribly moral. However, when that nation threatens the destruction of others, it is a necessary and ethical step. To be unwilling to take that step in the name of…what? is truly the unethical and cowardly thing to do.

        I lived through the last decades of the Cold War. It wasn’t won by “sister city” initiatives or Samantha Smith smiling with her Soviet counterparts. It was won by Reagan pushing back against a system that wasn’t equipped to take it. The victories in Iraq and Afghanistan weren’t won by everyone seeking peaceful solutions while the towers were still smoking, indeed the victory in Iraq was almost lost due to premature withdrawal. The war on terror isn’t going to be won by singing “peace, salaam shalom,” and North Korea isn’t going to be ended as a threat by the moral gravitas of a nonagenarian former president. Unwillingness to use necessary force is a morally and ethically bankrupt philosophy.

        • None of those victories was won by destroying or threatening to destroy an entire country, either, so you are dodging the point entirely.

                  • It…. does…. though….

                    Have you ever read the classics? I’m thinking A Tale of Two Cities…

                    “France, less favoured on the whole as to matters spiritual than her sister of the shield and trident, rolled with exceeding smoothness down hill, making paper money and spending it. Under the guidance of her Christian pastors, she entertained herself, besides, with such humane achievements as sentencing a youth to have his hands cut off, his tongue torn out with pincers, and his body burned alive, because he had not kneeled down in the rain to do honour to a dirty procession of monks which passed within his view, at a distance of some fifty or sixty yards. It is likely enough that, rooted in the woods of France and Norway, there were growing trees, when that sufferer was put to death, already marked by the Woodman, Fate, to come down and be sawn into boards, to make a certain movable framework with a sack and a knife in it, terrible in history. ”

                    Now… I get that 150 years is a long time, but my point is that things change, people don’t talk like that, I find that the classics take me longer to read not out of pure enjoyment, but for the time I have to parse and decode the words in my head.

                    Did a previous president ever actually say the words: “We will destroy your entire country?” I don’t know. I doubt it. But do you really think, really believe that those mean that Trump threatened with those sentences to kill every man woman and child in North Korea, that he’ll flatten their infrastructure, salt their fields and nuke it for good measure?

                    Because if you do, I’d like to know why. Even a literal interpretation of “We will destroy your country” doesn’t really lend itself to your point. What is a country? The land it’s built on? The buildings in it? The people that make it up? The government that oversees it? Even if you want to play literal and dumb… The prospect is at best confusing for you unless you are predetermined to read the worst into it.

                    • Had Trump said “We will totally destroy the government of North Korea,” we would not be having this conversation, as I would have zero problem with such a statement.

                      We can’t say what Trump meant because Trump doesn’t always know what he means. I’ll accept that your interpretation of his words is valid. I think mine is too.

                      As for the idea that Trump’s actual statement is just good strategy…I mean, I would think that if this was the case, other presidents at this point would have tried the same one by now, no? So why didn’t other presidents openly declare that they were willing to “totally destroy” whole countries? Were they just…stupid? Were we more politically correct in WWII? The Cold War? If this threat is such a great deterrent, why didn’t other presidents use it?

                      Of course, the fact that no other president ever said they would totally destroy an entire country doesn’t prove that saying so is bad strategy…but I find it hard to swallow that the only president with no prior military or government experience just stumbled upon a superior strategy by virtue of being a loudmouth.

                    • Seems disingenuous to post this comment after a half dozen commenters have given sound expositions on the notion that INDEED previous presidents and national positions HAVE communicated the sentiments of TOTAL DESTRUCTION to enemy nations, in varying terms. Seems especially disingenuous to not respond to any of those comments before proceeding with the same assertion you made before.

                    • “We can’t say what Trump meant because Trump doesn’t always know what he means. I’ll accept that your interpretation of his words is valid. I think mine is too.”

                      Just for my own edification, is your interpretation that Trump saying those words was a signal that he will kill every man , woman and child in North Korea, flatten the infrastructure, salt the fields, and drop a nuke for good measure?

                    • Seems disingenuous to post this comment after a half dozen commenters have given sound expositions on the notion that INDEED previous presidents and national positions HAVE communicated the sentiments of TOTAL DESTRUCTION to enemy nations, in varying terms. Seems especially disingenuous to not respond to any of those comments before proceeding with the same assertion you made before.

                      Except that “previous presidents and national positions have communicated the sentiments of total destruction to enemy nations, in various terms” is clearly a distinct strategy from “the president said he may totally destroy this country.” I haven’t said anything about the former strategy; my argument is about the latter strategy, and has been all along. It isn’t disengenuous of me to stick to that argument. One might think it disingenuous to conflate the two, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re arguing in good faith, despite that benefit not being extended to me in quite some time.

                    • Except that you aren’t going to get anything across to anyone, because everyone you’ve pushed this “no president has ever espoused this attitude” line of attack provided you an explanation that indeed, Presidents have espoused that attitude, and you haven’t responded to their comments with anything other than repeating your assertion.

                      Keep trying that tactic. I don’t think it will work out for you.

                    • Except that you aren’t going to get anything across to anyone, because everyone you’ve pushed this “no president has ever espoused this attitude” line of attack provided you an explanation that indeed, Presidents have espoused that attitude, and you haven’t responded to their comments with anything other than repeating your assertion.

                      You are testing my capacity to give the benefit of the doubt at this point. I have already explained that I am not talking about vague “attitudes,” I am talking about specific words. I repeated my assertion that no other president has used such words because you keep trying to spin that assertion into something else. No one has contradicted my assertion, and you know this, which is why you retreated to the “attitudes” argument.

                    • No, we all know you have an inability to get over your hang up that Trump is a bit more… direct… in his verbiage. Whether or not the exact same words are used, if the assertion that sentiments have been conveyed by several presidents has been submitted as a counter to your assertions, the burden is on you to demonstrate why either: the specific wording differences matter (they don’t) OR that the the previous president’s using other words DID NOT actually convey total destruction to our enemies (which they did).

                      Until you lift a finger to to that, you’ve broken our capacity to give you benefit of the doubt.

                      There’s even a solid argument, that at this stage in relations with NK, more…direct… verbiage, used to communicate attitudes we’ve communicated to our enemies in the past, is called for.

                      Burden’s on you.

                    • texagg04 wrote, “you’ve broken our capacity to give you benefit of the doubt.”

                      It may be honorable for you and others to continue to prod Chris into critically thinking about how he comments but it is quite clear that Chris has made his choices to attack Trump, Republicans, Conservatives in general and to troll Ethics Alarms threads. Chris is intentionally dragging threads into absurdity; make no mistake, it’s intentional. This little sub thread is another good example of trolling by Chris. I think it’s quite clear that Chris is a leftist internet troll; he wants to disrupt and he’s actually good at it. Based on Chris’trolling patterns, I no longer believe that anything Chris writes is truthful, I think it’s all bait including the comment he posted above (September 19, 2017 at 8:29 pm) that started this sub thread – it sunk into Chris’ obsession to attack Trump from that moment on. Chris actually stated this in regards to Trumps phrase “Threatening to wipe out an entire country is not ethical in my book. Period.”, I just did a quick search and I can’t find even one statement from Chris where he has condemned North Korea at all for the verbal nuclear threats that they have been spewing for months at the United States and allies in the region; Chris is a hypocritical partisan hack that is only interested in attacking Trump.

                      I commend Jack for his patience with Chris, I really do, Jack is a Saint; however, I no longer share what I’m perceiving as a “hope” that exercising this level of patience with Chris will either effectively change Chris’ trolling habits or add valuable left leaning input into conversations. I’ve been wrong before, maybe I’m wrong now too.

                      The following part is directed to Chris…

                      You are obsessively beating a dead horse with the cherry picked “totally destroy” phrase just so you can attack President Trump for using a diplomatic tactic that might actually be effective in encouraging the North Koreans to think before they act. You, and a high majority of the political left, are partisan hacks that care nothing about the safety and security of the United States and are more focused on smearing President Trump in everyone’s eyes (including the likes of North Korea) regardless of how the smears directly or indirectly effect the ability of the United States to deal with rogue nations like North Korea. You’re doing everything in your power to destroy Trump and in the process you’re decimating the United States ability to effectively deal with the possibility of a nuclear threat; anti-Trumpers are diplomatic imbeciles!

                      In this thread you are continually ignoring the fact that North Korea has literally been launching one nuclear threat after another at the United States and its allies in the region and they’ve been doing it for months, PLUS they are striving to develop the physical means to carry out that war; do you want a nuclear war with North Korea; Yes/No? Do you want Trump to fail in his efforts to stop a nuclear war with North Korea before North Korea lobs a nuke that intentionally murders millions of innocent people; Yes/No? I know you don’t much give a damn about anything except your obsession to attack Trump and those who’s opinion differs from your own, but try thinking about the millions upon millions of people within range of North Korea’s ballistic missiles while you are condemning Trump for a diplomatic tactic that is trying to stop North Korea.

                      Chris, Don’t reply with any of your foolish nonsense.

                    • HT: Just for my own edification, is your interpretation that Trump saying those words was a signal that he will kill every man , woman and child in North Korea, flatten the infrastructure, salt the fields, and drop a nuke for good measure?

                      I certainly think it is a signal that he is willing to use a nuclear weapon on the country. Don’t you? This would not be his first indication of his willingness to do so.

                      It could mean that Trump just wants to destroy their government. My entire point is that it wasn’t clear. But none of us know what Trump meant, perhaps not even Trump. So I find it very strange that people are acting as if my interpretation is somehow outrageous and idiotic.

                      You don’t know what Trump is willing to do. We do know he is a violence-loving man who wants to bring back torture, tells fake stories about shooting Muslims with bullets coated in pig’s blood and seems to think those stories are inspiring, and praises dictators directly after being informed that they murder their own people. But sure, I’m ridiculous for worrying about the level of destruction he’s capable of.

                    • “I certainly think it is a signal that he is willing to use a nuclear weapon on the country'”

                      Sure it is. What is the point of having nuclear weapons if the US is not willing to use them, and doesn’t make it clear if necessary that we are willing to use them? Of course, a nuclear attack doesn’t kill everyone and everything in the country. You may recall that there were TWO bombs dropped on Japan.

                      As I thought, and have derived from discussions with others, the hysteria over Trump’s words are residual no-nukes fanaticism.

                      John Lennon, is it you?

                    • tex:

                      Whether or not the exact same words are used, if the assertion that sentiments have been conveyed by several presidents has been submitted as a counter to your assertions, the burden is on you to demonstrate why either: the specific wording differences matter (they don’t) OR that the the previous president’s using other words DID NOT actually convey total destruction to our enemies (which they did).

                      I don’t feel any such burden. We simply disagree. I believe the distinction is self-evidently clear, and that it matters; you do not. History tells me we will not reach an agreement on this, so I’m not going to waste time trying.

                      For what it’s worth, I think your position–that the distinction does not matter–is valid, and you make some convincing points.

                    • The burden IS yours. You keep parroting the same assertion over and over: that Trump’s specific use of the adverb “totally” was inappropriate. The people you are TRYING to convince of this have given you reasons why they believe Trump’s words reflect an attitude that our nation often holds towards its enemies.

                      Now, if you DON’T want to actually try to convince those people, then I am fair in characterizing your commentary as beating a dead horse. If you DO want to actually try to convince them, then you need to get them on board with you *within the paradigm of this being an unparalleled threat of violence* BEFORE you can actually convince them that even given the context contemporary North Korea, the word “totally” was inappropriate.

                      But, by all means, keep repeating yourself to people who haven’t even been convinced your premises are correct, whether or not you feel your premises are self-evident.

                    • My comment wasn’t anti-nuke, Jack; it was simply answering HT’s question. You’re right that one nuke wouldn’t kill everyone and everything in the country. That’s another reason why Trump shouldn’t have said we may “totally destroy” the country. In my opinion.

                    • “That’s another reason why Trump shouldn’t have said we may “totally destroy” the country. In my opinion.”

                      I mean…. Alternatively, that might have been the signal for you to maybe not assume the worst.

                      As to the rest… Children. They know that if you have a history of threatening, but not following through, you probably won’t in the future. And if you have a history of following through, you probably will in the future. That means it’s important to 1) follow through with your threats and 2) only threaten things you intend to follow through with.

                      Did Trump set foolish parameters? Depends if he plans to follow through or if this is an Obama-esque “red line”. But he HAS set parameters, and so the ball is in Rocket Boy’s court. If Un pushes Trump, and Trump actually takes action…. I just don’t believe that the first stop will be a nuke. I don’t think that’s in the cards… But if that conflict actually rises to that point… And Christ this thought is scary…. But he’ll have warned them.

                      If I were Un, I would be…. cautious… About military provocation. Throw all the “dog scrotums” and that all important stink eye Trump’s way, I think he can take it. But he HAS to stop firing missiles. And if he doesn’t… I won’t be against future confrontation. He doesn’t have the right to fire missiles at other countries.

                    • Did you read these, Chris? Don’t pollute the blog with junk like this. NK said it was going to attack Guam, and Trump said it would be crushed if it did. It didn’t try to attack Guam. NK backed down. It is nothing like Obama’s red line fiasco. Breitbart’s argument is just as bad.

                      I’ll delete your embarrassing comment if you like.

                    • “It’s pretty rare for Breitbart and CNBC to agree on something.”

                      A good clue they are both wrong, and should be a wake up call to your Trump-addled mindset.

                      CNBC fails to even delineate what red-line Trump’s UN speech supposedly established. (Because Trump didn’t establish a red-line beyond a quick comment that appeals to EVERY nation’s sovreignty: “…if it is forced to defend itself or its allies…”)

                      Breitbart does even worse than CNBC.

                    • No need to delete it, Jack; I’ll accept that I misread the articles.


                      The burden IS yours. You keep parroting the same assertion over and over: that Trump’s specific use of the adverb “totally” was inappropriate. The people you are TRYING to convince of this have given you reasons why they believe Trump’s words reflect an attitude that our nation often holds towards its enemies.

                      Now, if you DON’T want to actually try to convince those people, then I am fair in characterizing your commentary as beating a dead horse. If you DO want to actually try to convince them, then you need to get them on board with you *within the paradigm of this being an unparalleled threat of violence* BEFORE you can actually convince them that even given the context contemporary North Korea, the word “totally” was inappropriate.

                      But, by all means, keep repeating yourself to people who haven’t even been convinced your premises are correct, whether or not you feel your premises are self-evident.

                      I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood. I have given up the goal of convincing anyone of anything.

                    • Then what purpose do you serve? What is your motivation here?

                      Because you’ve only repeated yourself. If there’s no driving force towards dialogue and reaching truthful or fair conclusions, you’d save everyone a great deal of time by merely stating your conclusion once, and then not trick people into thinking your goal is to reach a clear convincing result by answering them when they point out what they think are flaws in your assertion.

                      Do us that favor.

                    • texagg04 wrote, “Or you could just accept his withdrawal.”

                      You’re absolutely correct, I could have; however, when we see the same type of pattern pop up mentioning it “might” have education value for the receiver, if they choose to learn from it.

                    • tex,

                      My comments since the one at 12:23 pm have not merely repeated my original assertion. I have engaged with other points brought up by Jack and HT since then. At HT’s request, I defended my interpretation of Trump’s words based on Trump’s past words and behavior. I also gave one more reason why I thought his remarks were inappropriate that I had not previously noticed.

                      I don’t think I’m the one beating a dead horse here.

                    • Yeah…Ok…

                      It’s easy to get lost once the comments go single column, but your comments to HT regarding the last tiny percent of that discussion bears no relevance to the observations I’ve made about your commentary to about a half dozen other people you’ve engaged here (that you apparently aren’t trying to convince…I guess is how that works…?).

                      But if you need to pretend like this has been about purely answering HT’s “for my edification” question, then by all means, pretend like 90% of the rest of your comments here haven’t been the same hang up over an adverb without trying to address other people’s take downs of that stance.

          • I don’t know what history books you’ve been reading, but I suggest you find some better ones. What exactly do you think ‘unconditional surrender’ meant?

            In the event, between the Allies and the Soviet Union, we did destroy Nazi Germany by any rational measure. It was laid waste from end to end, from border to border. When the war ended in 1945, Germany was not even able to feed its own people — had we not sent aid, a significant portion of the remaining population would likely have starved the following winter.

            • Doesn’t apply here, Diego. We’re dealing with a country whose sole diplomatic connection to us says, “If only a thousand people survive, we will have won.”
              Nobody in Nazi Germany was that fanatic. Maybe the Viet Cong was – and remember how that out.

                  • In all fairness, we didn’t know they weren’t as fanatical as they claimed until after we started killing their sons, husbands and fathers by the hundreds of thousands on the battlefield and lay waste to their industries at home. A test of fanaticism the current generation of North Koreans haven’t faced.

                    • I hear your point, but remember the Germans had been part and parcel of European culture and politics (intermarrying royalty, etc.) for centuries; they knew us and we knew them, and prior to WWII there was plenty of cross-cultural travel, interaction, universities, etc. Even leading up to WWII we had distinguished journalists (e.g. William Shirer) reporting from the Reichstag. Many Americans had close relatives in Germany. Fanaticism in that environment had but a short time to build.

                      In N. Korea, we have incredibly little contact; the two Koreas have been separated since the Korean War; and the culture that they’ve had for centuries had been very inward.

                      I’m not educated nor eloquent enough to express it, but I have a feeling that a North Korean fanatic is far more fanatical than all but the most diehard Nazis. Furthermore, the belief in the average citizen in North Korea apparently exceeds by a long shot the average belief in a German citizen in the 1940s, many of whom had not-so-vague misgivings about what was going on.

                    • I think I’m right about fanaticism in this case, you may be right about fanaticism in this case. Either way, what’s the underlying point of calculating their fanaticism anyway? If they are wrong and advancing an evil and destructive cause, what matter their level of sincerity? Are we to hold ourselves hostage because they are true believers in an evil regime?

              • Well, at the time the unconditional surrender statements were made our primary diplomatic connection to those regimes was the Lancaster bomber and the USS Enterprise.

                Actually there were a lot of true fanatics in Nazi Germany, many in the armed forces and we and the Soviets killed a bunch of them. To some degree the fanatics were able to keep control through terror and intimidation. However, the Germans not only kept fighting but kept working and producing armaments until very near the end.

              • Just a slight correction. The US & South Vietnam had defeated the Viet Cong thoroughly after the 1968 Tet Offensive. Their ability to continue the fight was ended. It was only after the North Vietnam Regulars entered the war actively that the US Politicians folded like a cheap suit to the Anti-War Left & abandoned the fight. The US media hid this fact from the population.
                Similarly the US & International troops had totally defeated the North Koreans in 1950 and were moving to the Yalu River to occupy the country. China reacted with an overwhelming number of Divisions in surprise attacks which resulted in the retreat of US Forces (Chosin Reservoir) and a static battle at the 38th Parallel for an additional 3 years. Again because US Politicians also folded under pressure. In both cases “total war”and Victory were abandoned for Political Expediency and a fear for what could follow, i.e. Nuclear war.
                These actions foreshadowed US Policy between then & now, appeasement, lack of principle and lack of will & commitment to aggressively defend US interests around the world.

        • “indeed the victory in Iraq was almost lost due to premature withdrawal. “

          The victory in Iraq was lost due to premature withdrawal. Iraq will NOT be returned to the near success it was before Obama’s implementation of his disrastrous foreign policy.

          1) There’s a good chance that Iraqi Kurdistan becomes a real thing, with Syrian Kurds wanting to join it. I am luke warm over the idea of an independent Kurdistan: it WILL tweak the Turks who face the potential loss of a half of their territory if it’s Kurds agitate to join an independent Kurdistan. We can’t afford to lose ground in keeping Turkey as a balance to Russian access to the Mediterranean. A solid sliver of Iran would also agitate to join an independent Kurdistan. This Iran will not tolerate as it puts a foreign bridgehead solidly inside Iran’s natural defensive line, the Zagros mountains.

          Kurdistan offers us a great chance to flex muscle against Iran by mere proximity of threat without actually engaging in attacks, while simultaneously undermining an ally in our containment of Russia.

          2) Shia Iraq is now dangerously influenced by Iranian military advisors, though still dominated by us. One of the key steps Iran needs to establish a regional hegemony is control of the Euphrates valley. The same mountain ranges that protect Iran from attack also serve to contain Iran from projection of power. But control (or at least military influence that could someday lead to freedom of movement) of the eastern half of the Fertile Crescent provides Iran a solid footing in the middle of the Middle East.

          3) Sunni Iraq will never quite be reintegrated with the Shia power center despite being the majority worldview in Iraq. This will always be a problem, and with Sunni Islam being the general source of most extremism (though Shia isn’t much better), there WILL always be a fertile hiding ground for ISIS style attempts to establish a nation-state.

          No, in the name of pretending like he brought the men home successfully, Obama has done more damage to the Middle East than the abjectly stupid Sykes-Picot treaty did.

        • Steve-O-in-NJ:

          You at the very least reduce things to the real and the bottom-line question: power and the use of power. “You will do what we insist you do, or we will use any means and method to destroy you” is the way the bottom-line fact is expressed. It is not a question of being right or wrong, or good and bad, or good and evil, it is a question of having the power and using it. It is the argument of Thracymachus.

          Once the use of power has been mechanized into a power-system, the expression of that power is not tied to moral and ethical issues but to issues of pure expediency. The more that is at stake (economy, market domination, political power, et cetera) the less likely it is that the ethical and the moral play a role. So, more honest to do away with any pretense.

          The part that always interests me is that because the US has founded itself on ‘righteous narratives’ and these declarations are part-and-parcel of its identity, and its civil religious posture, that when it reverts to sheer force, and mercilles and even cruel destruction, to inflict ‘total war’ on its adversaries, it always gets involved in false-narratives.

          The interesting thing about the Sherman reference is that, when need be, the unleashing of absolute destruction will be carried out even on neighbors, on nationals, on residents in other states, on citizens. To honestly state that power will be used even in this way is … refreshing!

          But your approach is a better one. ‘Oppose us and we will destroy you.’ It is really as simple as that.

          But the more interesting element here is what happens when a Nation is forced to drop all the pretense and the real truth about power and how power is (and will be) used becomes apparent, visible. ‘They’ will stop at nothing. As I said just below I propose that it leads to schizm within the individual who is made to live in this cognative dissonance, and the self-division is manifest in a national and civl crisis.

            • My present perspective is based on a not-too-popular understanding of things. But I cannot decide if my view, though I think it is ‘true’, has any usefulness. And I am not sure who or what it serves. The view is simple. It is that when the US government took the decisions to create out of a Republic a Nation whose goal was international power-seeking and industrial expansion, that it turned against itself (if I can put it this way) and yet while holding to a great deal of the Republican (and Constitutional) imagery (or grandiosity), it began to establish itself as a non-constitutional power. In short it shifted into neo-imperialism.

              My understanding — against simplistic — is that this shift occurred under the presidency of William KcKinley and the result of it was in outright error (which can be understood by studying the effects on the Philippines). What happened there — if my understanding is correct — was repeated 60 years later in Vietnam. The essence to be understood here is: When a country, any country, which has a Constitution such as ours makes the mistake of violating it in principle at the most essential level that it is The People who will ultimately pay the price for that. I mean that it shows up in the people.

              Decisions made by the political and industrial sector, while they are good for that sector and even for ‘prosperity’ in general (a ‘good’), which result in destruction of a true and integral relationship to the Constitutional values, will always bounce back to have effect on The People. In my view, within the US as a general rule, 1) either people do not know the truth about how the Constitution was betrayed, and 2) are trapped in sets of lies and partial truths to the degree that they are in a state of *mystification*, or 3) simply do not care about any of this, are a people in whom the effects of those deviations that were made years back are visible. There are many other effects though. Social tensions, unexplainable anger, psychological and emotional angst, unexplained violence that seems to come from nowhere, unreason, distorted understanding, but also inclination to become seduced by aberrancy which could be in social pathology, extreme sports obsession, addiction and drugs, also sexual addictions and such: I see all these things as the *effects* of the *causes* that can be traced, quite directly in my view, to the establishment of a war-footing and a culture and economy intimately bound-up in war and the machinery of war.

              If what I say is true, and if this is the root-cause of ailment (social ills of all sorts) then it is this that needs to be turned around and to be faced. It is, in my view, *as simple as that*, yet to do that is not easy.

              My reductionist view has few moving parts. The decision was made (bad government) to change the nation from what it set out to be (a constitutional Republic of special and refined idea), into an aggressive neo-imperial Nation. Slowly, over time, step by step, this *identity* was created. Now, the US is not the Republic it once was and some great part of its purpose or intention is now geared toward very radically different things. It is in this sense an antithesis to its own self! It has become its own enemy. Yet it is forced to hold (monstrously and hypocritically) to a *self-image* which is in many senses, not all but many senses a terrible lie.

              The history of this change is our recent history of the last 110 years more or less. The essence of my (quite negative) view now hinges in this understanding: Whatever McKinley intended and whatever aspect of national will, or factional will, took power at that time has, laregly, directed the US over the last century. The essential betrayal seems minor, but since it was, essentially, a violation of the Core Principles, its effects became manifest in immoral illegality (conquest, domination, the undermining of independence movements — as in the Phillippines — and of course a certain quotia of death (murder essentially). The result of this, in the case of the US at this juncture, now is clear to see. It is openly visible in an anti-constitutional military-police state. Shadow goverment, deep state, military-industrial state: I have no idea what to label it nor am I certain how to interpret it.

              And it is that *State*, and the powers there which I do not profess to understand, which in 2001 engineered the events of the World Trade Center. That is, the deliberate destruction of the buildings and the further, and even more overt and outrageous, turning over of the Nation to its anti-Republican faction, the faction that now dominates.

              So, what begain ‘inoffensively’ as a shift to a neo-imperialism has rather quickly — historically speaking — matured so that what it really is, and what it really intends, is visible, evident.

              The implications of this are in a very real sense *unthinkable*. The inner meaning is difficult to face. But there are tens of thousands and perhaps many millions who have confronted what this means and what it portends. If what I am proposing — taken as a *diagram* of the present and as a valid interpretation — is true, it can only mean that the response to this, at an internal, singular and personal level, is required. One has to orient onself epistemologically in respect of these facts or truths. If one does that, what does one do or say? How does one live?

              [My own inevitable decision, the end of a long process of study and reflection, turns to the spiritual and the metaphysical. What I see happening has to do with the nature of ‘the world’ and I mean this in the Christian/Catholic sense. This all turns on a very definte metaphysical definition. One has no choice (in my view) except to establish oneself, at an inner level, on the plane of the inner, in a realationship to Creation in which you know, understand, hope and believe, that you are not bound up in evil. The alternative to this, that is, if one gives over to nihilism, is to allow oneself to get swept up in the current of the Pathology of the Present. One pole of attitude is conscious, the other is unconscious.]

              What to say on such a very interesting Blog as this, dedicated to ethics and at the same time to the Republic in its most relevant, constitutional sense? What does ‘ethics’ mean in the present crisis? What does it mean in relation to the meataphysical and epistemological realities which I have outlined? Am I dreaming? Is my mind distorted? Am I myself caught up in the hysteria and the madness of the times?

              OK, so with all that said I suggest that the Nation is going mad. What I mean is that under the pressure of the lies, the distortions, the false-narratives, the entire perceptual-system, that madness is showing itself. I am not trying to be dramatic nor over-emphasize for effect. The cure for social madness is confrontation within the self. One has to become willing to see. But one things seems, to me, certainly true: the events will keep progressing, they will not magically improve nor will their be relief or let-up. The crisis is real and unavoidable. Just as such crises in the individual are understood in this way.

            • I recognize that there is tremendous factionalism within opinion in the United States. And I do recognize that the following is a partisan perspective. It is from a book called “The Politics of War: The Story of Two Wars Which Altered Forever the Political Life of the American Republic (1890-1920):

              This was in respect to the Phillippine occupation, et cetera:

              “With matchless guile and unshakable aplomb, President McKin-
              ley had carried America across a great divide. He had ushered in a
              new age and it was an age of iron. Familiar landmarks were fast
              disappearing and venerated scruples were losing their authority. Men
              who had once stood at the center of events now traited haplessly be-
              hind the President’s van like wounded soldiers abandoned on the
              march. Andrew Carnegie, vehemently opposed to imperialism,
              found himself cast in the odd role of a professional agitator. Re-
              publicans who had been prominent when Lincoln was President
              now turned their backs in disgust on their once beloved party,
              which only tightened its internal discipline the more. In April 1899,
              the once powerful Speaker Reed — ‘Czar Reed’ he had been
              called — resigned his House seat and retired from public life,
              broken and bitter at the age of fifty. “Why have we all changed,”
              he asked, bewildered, in an article he never had the courage to pub-
              lish. It was indeed a’ parting of the ways’ for the American Re-
              public. A story that had begun eight years before with the revival
              of the republican cause had been brought to a close with the tri-
              umph of empire, ‘a vulgar commonplace empire’ Senator Hoar
              called it, ‘founded upon physical force, controlling subject races
              and vassal states.’ A few years beforwand how long ago it must
              already have seemed-Americans of every condition had been de-
              manding republican reforms of one kind of another. Their demands
              had gone unmet, their hopes had come to naught. The ruling politi-
              cians whose power they had threatened now set to work ensuring
              that another such perilous outburst would never occur again.”

              In my (developing) view the definition of ‘conservative’ has to undergo a severe revision. What ‘conservative’ means today — please excuse the vulgar phrase — is ‘cuckservative’. To be a (true) conservative can only mean, and should only mean, to understand and to defend principles. If one then ‘argues from principles’ one will make sense. If one ‘argues from contingency’ one will inevitably stumble into self-deception, badly-formatted reasoning and, at the worst, open mendaciousness.

              But the first step is a clarification of vision, of what is seen. I suggest that the above-quoted paragraph contains a large and substantial truth. I suggest that it appears as truthful because it is based in a rational argument related to principle. I defy anyone to demonstrate to me, with sound and principled reasoning, why it is a wrong or mistaken expression.

              What is being debated in this thread is a detail. The detail takes place within a far larger context. One cannot speak to the detail if one does not acknowledge the context. What the so-called ‘conservatives’ who write on this forum generally do (a certain percentage) is to speak from and to contingency without elucidating the principle. But were they to be forced to define the principle they would be put in a very difficult position of having to back-track historically to see the multitide of ways that peace-seeking has been avoided. They would have to see, and recognize, and then process in accord with principle, that when a War-System is constructed it does and will always do what war-systems do: seek war, foment war, always be sure that pretexts for war present themselves. If they do not present themselves, well, they can be fabricated. Fact.

              The division between Left and Right, I do not think, is a valid division. It is really about the difference between ‘true republicanism’ and anything and everything which causes one to ‘lose the Republic’. It seems to me that one must recognize that a strong position in defense of the Republic and republican (constitutional) values is not and cannot be seen in the artificial terms ‘left’ and ‘right’. Therefor, a bridge is possible and must be forged.

    • To me it means, “If you attempt to use military force against anyone, it will have been unprovoked, and we will retaliate by going as far as we have to to make sure you can’t do that again. How far we have to go is up to you.”

      That sounds eminently fair to me. Is it possible that retaliation harms innocent people? Yes. However, if an army invaded your land bearing hostages, you would not be at fault if you fought them and killed the hostages in the process. The invading army would bear the blame for taking hostages and using them as shields. If you wanted to wait and implement a plan to rescue the hostages and then stop the army, that’s fine, but if you have absolutely no way of doing that, the best thing to do as far as I can tell would be to repel the army as normal, eliminating any incentive for them to use hostages in the future.

      Does that make sense?

      • It makes sense as an abstract idea. In the real world, that is precisely what BOTH sides say – that they’re acting purely defensively, only after all other options have been pursued.

        Worse, as the level of umbrage increases, each side gets highly sensitive to any actions by the other, AS EVIDENCE OF BAD FAITH. Each side believes they are behaving solely defensively, while the other guy is a lying aggressor.

        This is how you end up with things like the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. Or fake WMDs.

        The proper metaphor is teenagers playing a game of chicken. The antidote is adult behavior, aka diplomacy.

        Of course it’s hard to do diplomacy without diplomats: a 30% cut in the State Department and the incomprehensible failure to even nominate an Ambassador to South Korea do not quality as diplomacy, or even adult behavior.

        • charlesgreen wrote, “Each side believes they are behaving solely defensively, while the other guy is a lying aggressor.”, “This is how you end up with things like… fake WMDs.”

          The one doing all the lying about WMD’s was Saddam Hussein who intentionally spread false intelligence. Saddam Hussein was a liar and a proven aggressor and his intentional lies and history of aggression cost Iraq greatly.

          North Korea isn’t lying; there are confirmed nuclear bombs being detonated underground and there are confirmed ballistic missiles being launched. These things are quite real not based on fabricated false intelligence from within the country. These threats are very real.

          Enough of that irrelevant deflection.

          charlesgreen wrote, “The antidote is adult behavior, aka diplomacy.”

          Hmmm, isn’t the Progressive idea of “diplomacy” what Obama was doing with North Korea for 8 years and where did that get the world; we now have a country that has nuclear war capabilities and is actually threatening to use it.

          Charles, When would you put your foot down and say no more North Korea, would you wait until them to murder millions of people with a nuke tipped missile or two?

          • Not surprisingly, I have a different take.

            Of course Saddam lied: he lied to frighten everyone else off. Our mistake was to take him at his word, supported by extremely wishful thinking about intelligence on our part.

            As to North Korea not lying, of course they’re not lying about their weapons capability: they fully intend to frighten everyone, because they’re fixated on the example of Qadaffi – someone who in their mind agreed to negotiate with the US instead of going forward with nuclear weapons, “and look what happened to him.” (Might I remind you our President has been known to stretch the truth on occasion as well).

            By your argument, we should never have any more nations with nukes (oh by the way what should we do with Pakistan?), and we ought to be the enforcer, choosing to preemptively and massively strike anyone we determine is about to join the club. Is that a fair statement of your position?

            The question that begs is simply to note that by that view it is US who determines who is dangerous and who isn’t, and US who chooses to believe or not believe their claims that they are acting defensively.

            Trump’s doctrine is push push push; so is Kim’s. Our Leader has seven months of job experience and a history of irritating people; their leader is a fratricidal over-indulged child with 10 times Trump’s tenure, but who has never met another foreign leader.

            That is not the time to be sabre rattling or playing chicken.

            As to “when I would put my foot down,” the answer is considerably later than now, given that our diplomatic endeavors are far from tapped out.

            The trouble with drawing lines in the sand is that egos take over and people feel compelled to follow through on their threats. Our President has threatened them – purely defensively of course – to annihilate their country if they don’t do what we tell them to do. How do you think that sounds the average paranoid Kim-worshiping North Korean? It sounds like exactly the behavior of an aggressor spoiling for a fight is how it sounds.

            • Charles wrote, “annihilate their country if they don’t do what we tell them to do”

              That’s an interesting interpretation of Trump’s statement, “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”; it’s clearly a false interpretation but it’s interesting how Trumps statement just got twisted into that misrepresentation.

              Understand; North Korea are the ones that are being hostile in both words and actions. Stop ignoring that fact!

              Charles wrote, “By your argument, we should never have any more nations with nukes “

              I love for there to be absolutely no nuclear weapons!

              Charles wrote, ” we ought to be the enforcer”

              What’s all this “we be the enforcer” nonsense; North Korea is threatening, we are responding. Get your head out of the sand.

              Charles wrote, “choosing to preemptively and massively strike anyone we determine is about to join the club.”

              That’s nothing but hyperbole bull shit; North Korea is threatening Trump said nothing ,absolutely nothing about preemptive strikes. I think this kind of nonsense spin is below your intellect, get out of the partisan gutter.

              • Let’s have a little realpolitik here.

                Fact: Nobody in North Korea believes that “North Korea is threatening, we are responding.” They believe precisely the opposite.

                There are two basic choices when faced with someone who believes the opposite of what you believe:
                1. Bomb them into the Stone Age, because we are right;
                2. Try to understand and be understood.

                If you think we’ve exhausted all possibilities, think again.
                Just today Trump extended sanctions.
                –Try also appointing an ambassador to South Korea.
                –Hire back everyone in the last ten years at State who knew anything about North Korea and left.
                –Send an emissary.
                –Seek out an emissary from a (relatively) neutral country.
                –Consider what we have to offer them (besides existential continuance); something they might want. Like security. (Tough to do, when saddled with the historical counter-argument of Qadaffi).

                If you can’t think of anything to offer them (negotiations 101), then what’s left.

                Let me ask you: if you were President, would you bomb them now?

                • “Fact: Nobody in North Korea believes that “North Korea is threatening, we are responding.” They believe precisely the opposite.”

                  Not only is there no way you can know this “fact” in either the literal or the practical sense, but the people in charge, who control the nukes, have to know that they’re the ones being threatening, unless they’re a) insane or b) believe their own propaganda. I have no idea what they think they need to make threats, but they’re still clearly the only ones here talking about their missiles and trying to intimidate other countries.

                  • “the people in charge, who control the nukes, have to know that they’re the ones being threatening, unless they’re a) insane or b) believe their own propaganda.”

                    Your claim is more unfounded than mine. I refer you to Evan Osnos’ article in the last New Yorker; he’s a reporter who went and talked to them. (By the way, the answer is certainly b, though conceivably a; they DO believe their own propaganda. If you can’t get past the firewall, let me know and I’ll send you a copy.

                    By the way, why is it hard to believe that the majority of people in a propagandizing country actually believe the propaganda? They’ve had 60 years in a echo chamber to perfect their beliefs.

                    The answer isn’t to shoot them, it’s to attempt to understand and be understood.

                    • If you want to disabuse the North Korean government of any notion that they’re doing the right thing, count me in. Deconstruction is one of my strongest tools.

                      If we’re going to untangle this mess, we should start with some basic questions:
                      Why do they feel threatened by other countries?
                      What don’t they like about other countries?
                      Why do they feel they need to oppress their citizens?
                      Why can’t they just be like South Korea?
                      What do they want and what do they fear?

                      I don’t know that much about North Korean politics, so I’d have to do some research to start out with. How about you?

                    • EC, I’m sure I’m at least as ignorant as you are – and most likely a lot more than you – about North Korean politics.

                      But I’ll tell you what, I think those are excellent! questions. IMHO you should forward them to Mr Tillerson, and suggest he find someone who can make contact with them to ask precisely those questions. (Really, I think those would be an excellent basis for a discussion).

            • Of course Saddam lied: he lied to frighten everyone else off. Our mistake was to take him at his word, supported by extremely wishful thinking about intelligence on our part.

              That’s a very fair and accurate description Charles. Confirmation bias, but also confirmation bias stemming from a separate belief that the UN, and the US, should enforce sanctions, and the terms of a ceasefire that were not only being defied, Saddam was openly defying them, or pretending to. The fake WMDs were his, and he was accountable for what they triggered.

              • Note that’s also an argument for taking seriously every inane thing Mr. Trump has said: Mexico will pay for the wall, Hillary should be in prison, etc etc.

                When do you take someone seriously, and when do you consider why they’re saying what they’re saying?

                • Anything a President—or a nation’s leader— says to the international community has to be taken seriously. For example, he isn’t kidding or engaging in hyperbole by saying he’d crush North Korea. There’s no joking in diplomacy.

                  On the other hand, when it is obvious, or should be, that Trump is engaging in one of his off the top of his brains blather-fests, honest people shouldn’t pretend he isn’t—but they do. I don’t believe that he’s ever grabbed a woman he just met “by the pussy,” for example. He was not calling for people to shoot Hillary Clinton. Etc.

                  • If the qualification is “when it is obvious,” that can be a dangerous assumption. You and I may be 95% in agreement about when he’s “kidding,” but if you’re Iranian, or Russian, or Mexican, they may have a very different perception.

                    Times 10 for a North Korean.

                    Remember: their whole thing is they view having a nuke as the only insurance against ending up like Qadaffi. And if Trump isn’t kidding (is he? what do you think?) about abrogating the Iranian nuke deal, then it will guaranteed be perceived by Korea as proof positive that he doesn’t mean what he says, and can’t be trusted to live up to a deal.

                    It’s not that hard to see where they’re coming from, honestly.

                    • “their whole thing is they view having a nuke as the only insurance against ending up like Qadaffi”

                      Another way to not end up like Qadaffi is to not be like Gaddafi.

            • You do realize your entire “Gadaffi” angle of reasoning says we should consider the motives of dictators before opposing their possession of nukes, right?

              Gaddafi didn’t fall because he didn’t have nukes. He fell because he was a dictator. He wanted nukes so he could keep being a dictator. We didn’t want him to have nukes because dictators shouldn’t have nukes.

              Kim Jong Un, wants nukes so HE can keep being a dictator. So what if he’s learned a lesson from Gaddafi, that giving up pursuit of nukes weakens his hand at staying a dictator. FINE! We don’t like dictators anyway and we should oppose dictatorial regimes acquiring them. But we don’t oppose dictatorial regimes acquiring them, by promising to buttress their hold on dictatorial powers as long as they hold off pursuit of acquiring them. A promise like that made to Gaddafi can not be seen as anything other than a delaying tactic to keep nukes out of the hands of evil regimes, with the long game still to be changing evil regimes.

              Us telling Kim Jong Un to dump his nuke program or face consequences may cause him to see the fate of Gaddafi. But that is literally the same message as telling him, “Hey, we’ll back off pressure if you back off pursuit of nukes”, which will still have him eyeing the fate of Gaddafi.

              Ole boy’s going to keep pursuing nukes regardless of our stance towards him. Evil regimes are paranoid for a reason: because NO ONE LIKES evil regimes…they can never rest on the assumption they are secure enough.

              This is why diplomacy has reached the end of it’s rope and it’s time for more drastic measures.

              “By your argument, we should never have any more nations with nukes (oh by the way what should we do with Pakistan?)”

              So what about Pakistan? Are they as evil as North Korea? Unstable certainly, but was their instability predictable in the 70s when they developed their nuke program?

              “The question that begs is simply to note that by that view it is US who determines who is dangerous and who isn’t, and US who chooses to believe or not believe their claims that they are acting defensively.”

              This is where the Left’s moral relativism (at best) or outright hatred of the United States (at worst) blinds you to ethical analysis. We ARE the good guys Charles. And for the most part the community of *Commercial Republics who generally fall in line with parameters of Western Civilization* ARE the good guys, and yes, I would trust that community to decide what evil players in this world need a solid smack down.

              I do not trust the United Nations, a disturbing number of which do not believe that freer trade is better, which do not adhere to republican structures or due process protections, which do not believe in human rights, to decide who should and should not “be part of the club”.

              • “Kim Jong Un, wants nukes so HE can keep being a dictator.”

                Of COURSE he wants nukes so he can keep being a dictator! Not to mention staying alive. That’s basically his whole rationale, at least as he sees it. That’s not a bug that’s a feature, to him.

                • We don’t like dictators anyway and we should oppose dictatorial regimes acquiring them. But we don’t oppose dictatorial regimes acquiring them, by promising to buttress their hold on dictatorial powers as long as they hold off pursuit of acquiring them.

              • Your accusation of moral relativism is unfounded. I fully believe we’re in the right.

                Why you insist on moralizing a practical argument is a cause for worry. I’m simply suggesting before you moralize us into a shooting war, it is ALWAYS good practice to try and understand where the other guy is coming from. ALWAYS.

                That is eminently pragmatic, commonsensical, and any diplomat or bargainer worth his salt knows it.

                This tendency to rush to judgment as if White Hats and Black Hats are all that matter is precisely what gets us (and other countries too, to be fair) into stupid wars.

        • “Diplomacy is the art of saying ‘nice doggy’ while looking for a rock.” But seriously, I agree with your point in general. There’s no reason for people to use violence in the first place, and de-escalating situations is best.

          However, if one crazy person is going to use violence anyway instead of diplomacy, and you can’t just imprison them, diplomacy won’t work. The only way to stop them from being violent in that case is to use violence on them. In order to keep the situation from escalating back and forth, you give them an ultimatum and then escalate once, drastically, the moment they cross the line.

          That said, I’d prefer to just invade North Korea with riot control gear, take the place over, and give everyone therapy. It’d take a lot of money to do that, though.

  5. Barack Obama 2016:
    “We could obviously destroy North Korea with our arsenals. But aside from the humanitarian costs of that, they are right next door to our vital ally, South Korea.”

    Donald Trump 2017:
    “The United States has great strength and patience but if it is forced to defend itself we will obviously have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

    • I can only assume you’re intentionally demonstrating the differences between Obama’s statement and Trump’s. “Could” =/= “will,” and the rest of that quote is Obama explaining why we should not destroy the nation.

      • I’m simply putting two statements by 2 presidents in the same comment for anyone to analyze & discern for themselves. Not everything is an argument.

      • Your entire commentary here is about the “will”, while completely ignoring the “if”. The *conditional* nature of the statement is purely deterrent, and acceptable. He didn’t announce he was pulling the trigger arbitrarily.

        Man, since this seems to be the only horse you’re beating to death about this speech, and it’s a weak angle to approach, is it safe to assume you’ve got nothing else about the speech to rant about?

      • There is no substantive difference in meaning, except that, as usual, Obama left room to argue that he didn’t mean what he said. Pssst: that’s not more ethical, it’s less so. Weak AND misleading.

        • No, Obama’s statement clearly means “We could destroy this country, but we won’t, and here’s why.” Trump’s statement cannot possibly be interpreted to mean that. That is a substantial difference.

          • I wonder…. Do you think Obama would have been as effete on the issue if Korea then had been sending missiles over Japan, and testing rockets that could conceivably be launched at mainland America?

          • Chris wrote, “Obama’s statement clearly means “We could destroy this country, but we won’t..” which is directly interpreted by the rogue regime of North Korea as meaning, “do whatever you want without fear of serious military repercussions from the United States” and that Mr. Chris is exactly what North Korea has done.

            Would you respect your local police department if they made a public statement saying “we could catch and prosecute criminals, but we won’t” or maybe you should try to demand respect from your children by telling them that “you could enforce your rules, but you won’t” or how about more of Obama’s progressive bull shit, we could arrest illegal immigrants and deport them, but we won’t.

            Obama was blinded by his progressive ignorance and pompous arrogance and has eroded respect and diminished the status of the United States across the world stage and it’s time to reverse the negative effects from that progressive ignorance.

  6. If you support GOP you ARE NOT ethical. I read couple of old posts here and realized the Left/Progressive bashing. Trump is not what we needed.

    • I literally have no idea what this comment is supposed to mean. It is also off topic. Decrying the result of the election is not germane. Neither are partisn comments like “If you support the GOP you are not ethical.”

      You are close to triggering the Ethics Alarm Stupidity Clause. Your next comment will tell…

    • Because a party that gave its adherents a choice between a pink-collar would-be dictator and pathological liar and a septuagenarian fartknocking socialist who wanted to EXPLODE the national debt was sooooo ethical.

  7. Thanks for posting the whole speech, that’s very valuable.

    For all the conventional GOP language (which feels oddly reassuring in this context, I find it very hard to ignore the “we will totally destroy North Korea” language. (Remember “We will bury you”? How did we interpret that?)

    I recommend that anyone interested (all of us should be) read the article “A Reporter’s Take-away from a Trip to North Korea,” by Evan Osnos.

    What emerges is picture of a country that has absolutely no idea how to interpret Trump, and which almost certainly mis-interprets him, and us. And if that isn’t scary enough, it almost makes clear that we have no idea how to interpret them.

    You would think that someone who writes about deals would appreciate the critical importance of understanding one’s opponent – and of making sure they understand us. And yet: this President has yet to even nominate an ambassador to South Korea, and his primary objective with the State Department appears to be dismantling diplomacy in search of operational efficiency.

    We’ve got two individuals with itchy trigger fingers. One of them is a fratricidal young leader who has never even met another head of state; the other has 7 months’ on-the-job experience and a tendency to bluster.

    I’m watching, with much of America, Ken Burns’ excellent piece on Vietnam. It reminds me that well-intentioned but willful ignorance has never served us well, whether in Vietnam, Iraq, or Korea.

    It is folly to threaten people who believe your intentions amount solely to aggression. This is a people who believe that if they are bombed into the Stone Age, and only a thousand people survive, that would constitutes victory.

    How is this intelligent statecraft?

    • 1) since it seems that the only think the Leftists are hanging up about is the deterrent threat to NK, should we take away that they recognize the speech was good, or just that their daily talking points are only focusing on that?

      2) itchy trigger fingers? I think that requires proof of both leaders jumping to military violence as a disproportionate knee jerk reaction often enough to form a pattern. Neither has. They are both certainly saber rattlers. And so?

      3) the US and NK’s history has generally been saber rattling associated with launching a few missiles into the see associated with predictable military drills. There’s nothing exceptional about this latest episode, try as you manic Trump haters will.

    • “Ken Burns’ excellent piece on Vietnam.”

      And how! Riveting doesn’t do it justice.

      It has a stateside “policy/decision-making” analysis approach where the (IMHO) Gold Standard “Viet Nam in HD” focused on battlefield/combat/action sequences.

      That CYA face-saving “70 % to avoid humiliation” declaration and the interview with the veteran (toward the end of last night’s installment) on General Westmorland declaring it “unwinnable” way back in 1965?

      Powerful; and damning!

    • I see what *we* are engaged in is a game of perception. We are ‘rehearsing’ here. We believe the ‘story’ that is offered to us and cooperate with it (participate in the game). But this suggests there is a more basic truth to be seen and understood.

      Having a North Korea has tremendous utility. And why would a very useful Image of Evil be wasted? They set up these people and exploit their dangerousness and their evilness to the maximum point. It was done with General Weyler (Spanish general in Cuba in the late 1800s) and one can go right down the line in every conflict of the 20th century and see the same tactic. Psychological manipulation by skilled propaganda and PR experts. It is a ‘game’ but one that really does have life and death consequences.

      Confusion, shock and awe on all sides, terrible dangers rising here, now there: it is just this that (I suggest) is a desired and perhaps even a worked-for situation. Qui bono?

      • Alizia, your comments here remind me of the old saying, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.”

        I think your theory of the mythic use of the bogeyman as a cover for domestic agendas has played out many times in our nation’s history (not ours alone, to be sure), and cannot be discounted. We have always pretty much rallied around the ‘defense of the nation’ argument every time a President raises it; and said President’s popularity has increased every time they use it, most recently in Iraq, and before that in Vietnam. The fact that it has almost always been a sham gets forgotten every 20 years or so.

        You may be paranoid but you’re not nuts!

    • I agree that we may not understand each other… But the differences are probably irreconcilable.

      I mean…. Will the Koreans, who believe their dear leader is a God among men; omnipotent, all powerful, and not in need of a toilette, ever, really be able to process and understand that not only is none of that true, but their entire way of life is one of deep, crushing oppression?

      And will Americans en masse ever really understand oppression? Progressives like to pretend that certain demographics in America are deeply oppressed… And don’t get me wrong, there are, obviously, demographics much worse off than others, but I think the kind of oppression, the enforced ignorance, the constant nagging hunger…. Is complete qualia for the average American, or even among the most desperate of Americans.

      But… So… What?

      I mean, what’s the alternative? Are you suggesting that we throw up our hands in frustration? We don’t understand them, they don’t understand us, fuck it, let him blow off his rockets, at least until he hits someone important?

      I can’t believe you think like that. But I’m struggling with what your point actually is.

      • Well, given that neither side really understands the other, perhaps the more prudent action is to do nothing.

        Consider a radical point of view. We’ve already got Pakistan with a nuclear arsenal, and I don’t hear any bellicose arguments about them. (Instead, we get threats about Iran, who is currently abiding by an agreement NOT to develop nuclear arms). It’s not inconceivable that Kim simply wants a guarantee of continued existence, and views having nuclear arms as the ony sensible guarantee. The radical proposition is declare victory and walk away; tell him we’ll treat him like Pakistan.

        Every word each side is saying is couched in response to perceived threats from the other. Probably we both mean it. The danger comes from believing that the other side actually harbors aggressive intentions, rather than defensive intentions; the resultant temptation is to pull the trigger first.

        • Have you ever considered the cost if you’re wrong?

          If I’m wrong, America will have entered yet another war, at the end of which, many lives and much money and time will be spent trying to acclimatize Koreans to the reality that not only did their leader poop, but basically everything they knew was a lie. True benefits would not be seen for generations, the costs would be horrendous, but one of the most oppressive regimes on Earth would be mitigated.

          If you’re wrong, Korea nukes America.

          I’m just saying.

          • I hear you. And it’s a very good question.

            But note that is also the logic for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on our part. Which is a pretty grave threat.

            And that appears to be EXACTLY how they are reading our bellicose words: as evidence that we intend a pre-emptive strike.

            This cannot be good.

            We have not exhausted diplomacy; were it not for the current administration’s belief that somehow you can do diplomacy via 140 characters, we would be doing something diplomatic. We’d have an ambassador to South Korea. We’d be lining up every Korea expert in the State Department, instead of cutting the budget by 30%

            It’s tough to do diplomacy without diplomats; yet that is what the Trump administration is trying to do. Where does it end? In the logic for a pre-emptive strike against “irrational evil.”

            I just think it is way too confrontational, as it feeds exactly the paranoia in the other side that is the problem.

    • charlesgreen wrote, “What emerges is picture of a country that has absolutely no idea how to interpret Trump…”

      If anyone believes that North Korea doesn’t know how to interpret “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” then that person is terribly naive and has become a propaganda tool for North Korea. There is no ambiguity in statements such as that.

      Evan Osnos is trying to make Trump out as the bad guy and North Korea as the victim while completely ignoring the fact that North Korea is actively developing nuclear bombs and the missiles to deliver them to your front door and has actually made unprovoked threats to use them against the United States and it’s allies in the region.

      • “then that person is terribly naive and has become a propaganda tool for North Korea.”

        By that definition, if we are to believe Osnos’s observations, pretty much the entire country is terribly naive and is a propaganda tool. Which I think is very much the case.

        That’s the PROBLEM!

          • Sorry for my unclarity. I was responding to your suggestion that if someone believes what they believe in North Korea, that they are deluded.

            I meant to suggest that by that definition, the entire country is somewhat deluded – and that presents a real challenge for communicating to them.
            One answer is to say fuck it and bomb them; another is to figure out what they believe and figure out a way to communicate with them.

            That hasn’t happened yet.

            What I see is each country claiming they’re acting defensively, but that the OTHER guy is acting offensively. That is a recipe for a mistake just waiting to happen; and unless we’re lucky enough to have a smart guy like that Russian who just died who counter-manded the offer to pull the trigger, we’re all in deep nuclear yogurt.

  8. My understanding is that it has become ‘standard operating procedure’ that when there is a domestic crisis in the US, among the polity, that the first order of business is to direct the attention of people to an external crisis. If my sources are correct this is what happened in the last years of the 1800s and in the years between 1890-1920). This is when the Republican Party transformed itself and, it would seem, the present military-industrial complex’ was consolidated. They sought, and they manufactured, a pretext to wage a war against Cuba and (again if my sources are correct and honest) they used every Machiavellian trick known in politics to foment a situation, and then tranfix people’s attention on, the drama of a national assault.

    My understanding is that there, at this juncture, and I think this is an extension of Lincolnian centralization, the notion of The Republic of the United States was transformed into The Nation of the United States. And The Nation was solidified through an integration of the military and the industrial (manufacture) sectors. The Nation began to cease to be The Rebublic at that point. This of course is bound up with the destruction of the relationship to the Constitutional values. In other words, to have done what they did — transform the Republic into a Nation that could be centralize and directed by shadow-powers toward ends with no relationship to the original values — you have to first disguise what you are doing and, essentially, lie about it. This connotes the ‘Machiavellian’ element which is so present, not only in politics and ‘diplomacy’ but in the distorted relationship that Americans have with their own selves. They have become (please forgive me!) a lying people. A people bound up in lies, tied to lies. Their ‘identity’ is a nexus of lies and the American cannot tell the truth about his own Nation, what it is (now) and what it really does. I will suggest that this points directly to a form of psychological illness, a schizm in the self. And the Nation in this sense exploits the many national selves.

    When your own inner crisis — that is, domestic crisis — begins to over-swamp, you turn immediately to the bellicose alternative. It is a reflex, a habit, but also a time-tested strategy. And the whole System participates in it. This points to the War System which is built-in to the general system. Industry, the miltary establishment, the political establishment, and then one has to mention the ‘tentacles’ which are now electronic and image-management implants, that connect to individual minds. The System itself has melded itself with its messages.

    But here is the interesting part: The so-called ‘Conservative’ is not, insofar as they explain and defend this ‘System’, this nexus of anti-Republican and really anti-Democratic shadow-powers, is not in any sense a conservative as the term should be defined. In actual fact these people are either a) deliberately blind or b) caught up in the machinations of evil. It is with what a person defends that their real mettle is known. If you defend the destruction of the Rebublic — which is really to say ‘what rhe Republic and the Constitution stand for — you are a liar and a traitor and you verge into evil. The world is very possessive in this way. In my view, it is at this point that a great deal becomes *psychological*. If your identiy is bound up in The Nation, and The Nation has become corrupted through its strange and dubious machinations, the ‘structure of self’ is allied to and bound-up in false-identifications. I would go on with some of the Thomist implications but will spare you for now.

    The confused, schizophrenic American who cannot really make ethical and moral decisions but responds as the wires connected to his head and to his spirit direct him, will respond to the electrical jolt and, momentarily at least, the possibility of there being unleashed some destructive barrage, in some far-away place, where thousand will die, and even hundreds of thousands, is an irrelevancy to this *subject*. It is a lie, a direct, open and cynical lie, to say that the strategy in Iraq was in any sense ‘humanitarian’. The Nation violated any international and legal standard and committed an EVIL. And you are responsible for that evil. And you will, now or in the future, in this world or the world to come, be called to task for the millions who died. You cannot keep doing this in this world and expect no reprecussions to ensue.

    You are going to give me some lecture about ethics, are you? Really?!

    What is incredible in all this — and I mean this in the sense of almost unbelievable — is that just after the turn of the clock into the 21st Century, in the heart of your own nation, a terrfiying Op was undertaken against you. You were made the victims. And you were then, as you are now, reacting in predictable manner. I suggest that just as KcKinley machinated the undermining of the Republican structure, and a long process of subversion was begun, that it has as its end, as its culmination, the planned and executed 9/11 attacks and all that has come out of them. Cause and effect.

    The Rebublic shatters. The people are in profound psychological crisis. I would go so far as to call it something akin to ‘psychotic illness’ or outbreak. Hysteria courses everywhere, from person to person, electronically, it runs through the whole body-politic and everyone is caught up in it.

    Perfect time to launch into some international conflagration!

    I write this from an arch-conservative position, at least this is what I would like to be able to define. It is not easy. If I have any relationship to an ‘Alt-Right’, or to ethics and morality, it will have to take shape in opposition to these strange — and wicked — machinations on Our Present supported by people who refuse to exmine themselves and their relationship to these systems (and mainly the War System). None of this that we see can be the right course. There has to be a way to return to Principle, and this to ethical positions, but how?

  9. This is surprising and encouraging to me. I didn’t think a Republican administration was going to be this proactive about international policy, and I certainly didn’t expect Trump to speak with nuance or on any topic, but this is a better keynote speech than I had hoped for. If Trump keeps saying sane things like this (no matter that they’re written for him; he approves it), and if he actually backs them up, I might even vote for him next election instead of third-party. Assuming, of course, the Republicans still run decent but weak-spirited candidates and the Democrats are still running candidates embodying the worst stereotypes of politicians.

  10. I woke up to this this morning. Misrepresentation of Trump’s words continues; how about this one from Fox News…

    Fox News, “Trump, during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week, warned the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea if Pyongyang continued its provocative actions…”

    No Fox News, he DIDN’T say that or imply that! Liars!

    CNN News, “The forceful rhetoric from Pyongyang came after Trump threatened to”totally destroy” North Korea in a speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.”

    Hey CNN, you intentionally forget the part where Trump said ” if it is forced to defend itself or its allies”? Never mind, I forgot, context means nothing to you people. Lies By Omission!

    President Trump said, “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. “

    Don’t twist it, don’t cherry pick it, don’t try to interpret it, don’t turn it into something it’s not, just quote it as is! International diplomacy retards in the media and those parroting that kind of bull shit are bolstering the North Korea position! What the hell is wrong with you people?

    Remember the plot to the James Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies”? A brief synopsis is that a media mogul wants to fuck the entire world by intentionally starting a nuclear war so he can sell more of his sensational media. Well folks, it appears that the media in the United States is fine with misrepresenting Trump’s words to sell their sensationalized news and they don’t seem to give a shit that their damn misrepresentations WILL BE USED to promote/justify the violent position being pushed by a seriously paranoid violent dictator in North Korea that is threatening to start a nuclear war! This is all sorts of fucked up!

    Fuck the news! Pull the damn plug!

    • If you feel strongly about this, no need to mince words…

      Speaking of the media, I watched the 2nd half of the PBS Newshour last night, after the local news and before the monumentally fascinating Ken Burns “The Viet Nam War.”

      Judy Woodruff was interviewing Melinda Gates about maintaining current levels of foreign aid.

      Woodruff continuously and blatantly, yet unsuccessfully, attempted to bait Gates into condemning “this Administration.”

      To her credit, Gates was remarkably even-keeled, choosing to keep the discussion focused on what has been done and what could be done going forward.

      It had me thinking, to borrow a phrase: “Fuck the news!

    • Zoltar Speaks, needs soap in mouth.

      Otherwise, great comment. This is fake news: I’d like Charles, who has taken umbrage of characterization of it as such, to weigh in. What else do you call it when a speech says one thing and news sources report it as something completely different?

      And again: this isn’t journalism. If journalists don’t practice journalism, there is no reason to keep according them the privileges of journalists. Trump’s efforts to expose the news media are 100% appropriate at this point, when its objective is not to inform, but to foment opposition to him.

      • I’m not going to defend taking quotes out of context. The full context should always be put in place, and there’s no excuse for not doing so.

        At the same time, you and Zoltar’s focus on this valid point may be blinding you to another point at least as important. That is the language of the subordinate clause itself.

        It makes a difference what words you choose after your conditional clause (“if forced to defend itself…}.

        One way to say it would be words to the effect of “we would be obligated to take serious, major actions in response, including dire military responses.” That would be meaningful in the highly parsed but well understood lexicon of statecraft.

        Another way to say it would words to the effect of “we will f*** you up so bad your freakin’ cockroaches won’t survive, you imbecilic fratricidal maniac!!!”

        What Trump said, in front of the United Nations, was a lot closer to the second than the first. And that was a first. Ever.

        AND THAT IS ALSO NEWS!! Big news, and not fake at all.

        The real question is what was the story:
        a. The critical preceding conditional clause, or
        b. The first-time-ever use of such apocalyptic language in such a context.

        I’d argue they’re both valid stories. Not just one.

        • I don’t see how you can fairly argue that with regard to the Fox headline, Charles. The key condition in Trump’s statement was that any deadly response from the US would be triggered by being “forced to defend itself or its allies.” One defends oneself against attack. This isn’t context. This is what in law is called material. If one leaves out a material fact, then a quote doesn’t lack context, it is false. It is simply not true that Trump said that the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea if Pyongyang continued its provocative actions…” That states, falsely, that Trump threatened to destroy North Korea for doing what it was already doing. Not True. Fake news. Deliberately misleading.

          Your argument is better in relation to CNN’s headline, which focused on the blunt threat.

        • charlesgreen wrote, “I’d argue they’re both valid stories. Not just one.”

          Thanks for the reply.

          The followup words are 100% conditional upon the conditional clause, without the conditional clause being met it’s as if the followup words don’t “exist”. Any separation of the conditional clause and the followup words for the sole purpose of misrepresenting the entirety of the comment; therefore, I argue that it is only one comment and one story.

          The trivial pursuit like factoid that the two words “totally destroy” have not been spoken in consecutive order by a world leader in a speech at the UN is completely irrelevant. This is being ginned up to smear.

          • I refer you to the reaction of the crazy-ass dictator of North Korea. That is what really matters, not our correct treatment of symbolic logic.

          • Zoltar, you’re right about the logic, but I’d argue that misses the critical point. Consider this:

            — “If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.” Sun Tzu, from The Art of War.
            — “Aim very high and then keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what you’re after.” Trump, from The Art of the Deal.

            What we’re now witnessing is two proponents of Trumpism, facing off against each other. I’m pretty sure that Kim didn’t get set off by the flawed-logic quote of the NYTimes – he, like most of us, reacted to the verbs and nouns, not the leading conditional clauses.

            And now it comes out that Trump went rogue, against the advice of his advisers, and unbeknownst to them.

            This is some cross between poking a tiger with a stick, and two crazed teenagers playing chicken with their parents’ cars.

            As one critic pointed out, after ego-crazed Kim took it personally, there’s not a remaining soul in the North Korean government who would dare talk to the West about negotiations – because their Dear Leader has shown himself capable of cold murder.

            How is this a good thing? And isn’t it at least as important as the US press quoting the imflammatory parts without the introductory clause? There was only one audience that mattered, and our own Dear Leader, against the advice of all his advisors, decided to poke the tiger.

            Truly appalling.

            • Interesting perspective Charles.

              Don’t you think it would be a really great idea for the media to be pushing the truth and logic instead of promoting the illogical knee-jerk emotional reactions to the statement like Kim appears to be doing?

              Seriously Charles.

              • What am I saying? Of course the media has to do the things that can possibly cause Trump regardless of truth and logic regardless of the consequences. The media just doesn’t give a damn as long as the can smear President Trump.

              • “for the media to be pushing the truth and logic instead of promoting the illogical knee-jerk emotional reactions to the statement like Kim appears to be doing?”

                I don’t disagree with that, Zoltar, though reasonable people could differ about how much the media is ‘promoting’ that reaction.

                Remember: Kim Jong Un is not reacting to the New York Times, he’s reacting to the insults themselves – and in a dangerous and predictable manner.

                From the LATimes:
                “John Park, a specialist on Northeast Asia at Harvard’s Kennedy School, said the tit-for-tat insults have created a “new reality” and probably have shut off any chance of starting talks to curb North Korea’s fast-growing nuclear arms program.

                “If the belief centers around sanctions being the last hope to averting war and getting North Korea back to the negotiating table, it’s too late,” Park said.”

                “Given Kim’s record of putting political rivals and dissenters to death, including members of his own family, his public statement blasting Trump makes it highly unlikely that other North Korean officials would participate in talks about ending the country’s nuclear program, Park said.

                “There is no one on the North Korean side who is going to entertain or pursue discussion about a diplomatic off-ramp, because that individual would be contradicting the leader, which is lethal,” Park said.

                That’s what you call an unforced error; while I agree in large part about the desirability of context on the part of the media, this other truth has nothing to do with the American press.It’s another context issue entirely.

                Kim draws his own conclusions, and the unilateral decision by Trump to disregard his advisers’ advice is having tragic and utterly predictable consequences.

                It flows from who Trump is: he can’t resist adding foreign dictators to the litany of “little Marco,” “lyin’ Ted,” and “crooked Hillary.” Except that their reactions are in the context of American politicians. Kim’s context is wholly different. We profoundly don’t understand him, but it seems everyone around
                Trump at least understood his fragile and outsized ego, and knew that personally insulting him would have quite predictable and negative consequences. And yet, he persisted.

                That to me is the bigger story: Trump knowingly and intentionally insulted someone personally, when there was every good reason to know that would have negative results. In comparison, full quotes from the press, while a very good point in the abstract, pales in comparison.

                An aside. Remember “We will bury you!” If you’re like me, and I suspect most Americans, we remember that as a threat from Krushchev, one which provoked serious negative reaction, fear, anger, etc.

                Here is the full quote, in context, of what he actually said:
                “”About the capitalist states, it doesn’t depend on you whether or not we exist. If you don’t like us, don’t accept our invitations, and don’t invite us to come to see you. Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you!”

                Not a threat at all, at least by your logic (and by my logic too, but nobody heard context or logic; we heard the intemperate choice of words). Was that a mistake by Krushchev? By the US press? By the American public?

                I cite it only as an example of the power of inflammatory words, which create their own reality. Any politician worth his salt knows that “but I was taken out of context!” is the lamest of excuses, which tend to deepen the negative response it was intended to mollify.

                Trump said what he said, we’re all right to hear the nasty, personal invective that underlay it, and he can’t get out from under it by claiming the “fake media” are “misquoting” him.

    • An Aside: Whoever punctuated the text of the speech didn’t punctuate the statement by Trump correctly for intent, I think it should have been punctuated as follows…

      “The United States has great strength and patience; but, if it is forced to defend itself or its allies we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

      I think that punctuation better represents the intent of the statement but I’m completely open for the a professional English teacher to critique my punctuation suggestion.

      • “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. “

        Zoltar says this should be:

        “The United States has great strength and patience; but, if it is forced to defend itself or its allies we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

        Punctuation isn’t my strong suit, but my understanding is that one should use a comma rather than a semicolon before a coordinating conjunction such as “but.” The exception, I think, is when using semicolons to separate short lists from each other in a longer list. In that case you would use a semicolon and a coordinating conjunction when transitioning to the final short list. But I could be wrong on that.

        Can you explain how your punctuation changes the meaning of the statement, Zoltar? I think you are saying that it places the emphasis on the first part, about the U.S.’s strength and patience, and I can sort of see that.

        • Your understanding of a how to use a semicolon and mine are VASTLY different. How is that possible?

          A semicolon is used to link two independent clauses in a single sentence. Both independent clauses could be a sentences but they are linked because it is a continuation on a thought.

          The manner in which the quote was punctuated it implied that what was between the two commas could be completely removed and the sentence would still be “proper”, but what actually happens is that the sentence would become “The United States has great strength and patience we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.” which is truly contradictory and makes absolutely no sense.

          By punctuating the sentence in the manner which I chose it separates the two independent clause at the semicolon, you could literally put a period at the end of the first independent clause and it would be a complete sentence that makes sense. Similarly, what follows the conjunction “but” is also a complete independent clause with the exception of the word “it” which refers back the “the United States” in the first independent clause thus reducing the repetition between the two independent clauses if they had been separated – much better for a speech.. This punctuation is much more accurate to the intent of the statement.

          This punctuation…

          “The United States has great strength and patience; but, if it is forced to defend itself or its allies we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

          …is correct.

  11. Does everyone here understand that if North Korea detonates a non below ground nuclear weapon that the radioactive fallout from the detonation could reach the United States via normal ocean currents and trade winds. The west coast of the United States actually had increased levels of radiation from the Japan nuclear power plant melt down after the earth quake & subsequent tsunami.

    Why did I pass on that information; well depending on the location of a hydrogen bomb explosion in the Pacific Ocean, it could be considered an indirect “attack” on the United States of America. Think about that.

    • It could indeed be considered an indirect “attack” on the United States. And if we’re to take Trump literally (never a good idea), that’s exactly how he would consider it. Which would mean we will, logically speaking, proceed to totally destroy North Korea. QED.

      This would not be a good thing (severe British understated tone).

      And how the hell did we get to the point where the lack of clarity about the definition of “attack” is so extreme that we debate it on blogposts? Isn’t that the job of diplomacy, to define such terms in such excruciating detail that there can be no doubt as to when lines are crossed?

      We’ve already seen our two Great Leaders escalate their childish name-calling this morning. These are the two fools with their hands on the nuclear trigger. The appropriate response is not for us to be debating the definition of “attack” on an ethics blog, but to be insisting that Our Dear Leader cease and desist his 140-character Fake Diplomacy and send in those who know how to actually DO diplomacy.

      As you say, something to think about.

    • Have any of you really listened to Ri Yong Ho speech to the UN?

      Why isn’t the United States media and the political left smearing North Korea for their words?

      It sounds like North Korea has essentially already declared war on the United States by saying that its targeting the United States with its nuclear weapons is inevitable and that the loss of innocent United States lives are Trump’s responsibility. Also it appears that North Korea just threatened to extort money from the international community for past and present sanctions using threats of nuclear war as their leverage.

      For those that seem to think that vocal public opinions and opinions spewed forth by our leftist corrupted media trying to destroy Trump don’t come into play with how North Korea interprets Trumps words, listen carefully to the speech with an open mind.

      • Have you seen the news that North Korea now says that Donald Trump’s comments amounted to a U.S. “declaration of war” against not only North Korea but all member states and “since he made declaration of war, all options are on the operation table”.

        North Korea has a double standard a million miles wide if these self-absorbed tyrants think Trump’s words means that the United States declared war on them but their own unequivocal direct threats towards the United States and it’s allies for months, if not years, were not declaring war on others.

        The North Korean leadership are tyrannical war mongering imbeciles, I’d put nothing, and I do mean nothing, past them right now. Is their end goal massive population reduction in North Korea?

        If you haven’t been seriously concerned about this, wake up, it’s very real.

        • “If you haven’t been seriously concerned about this, wake up, it’s very real.”
          I certainly have been. Playing nuclear brinkmanship with this mentally unbalanced character is nerve-wracking.

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