Trump’s two front war: Washington and North Korea


President Donald Trump last week sent a message to two entrenched and belligerent regimes currently stymieing his ability to make America great again via his ambitious domestic agenda. Here’s what people closest to the administration say that means Americans should watch for in the weeks ahead.
North Korea
On North Korea, Former chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs retired Adm. Mike Mullen warned Sunday that said he believes Trump’s tough talk on North Korea could over-escalate the situation.
“I’m really concerned, because I don’t know where this goes in terms of a peaceful resolution,” Mullen said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“It’s an incredibly difficult, complex problem.”
According to Mullen, heated rhetoric from both the United States and North Korea is making it increasingly unlikely that the situation will resolve without military action.
“And that rhetoric, it seems to me, has taken away options or its reduced maneuver space, if you will, for leaders to make decisions,” he said.
Mullen added that he believes the biggest threat moving ahead is the unknown.
He said: “And if this results in a military strike, the unintended consequences of that, the possibility that there are disproportional responses, miscalculations. It can really get out of control fast.”
Retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis, formerly supreme allied commander of NATO, similarly warned that the administration’s reaction to the latest round of North Korean belligerence is moving in the direction of a U.S.-led military campaign against the Hermit Kingdom.
“We’re in an upward spiral of very aggressive rhetoric both from Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, and President Trump,” Stavridis said on a Sunday radio show. “That rhetoric is driving both militaries to a higher level of readiness to conduct operations.
“The good news is we still have a diplomatic path to play here, and I’m hopeful as the week unfolds we’ll see cooler heads prevail both in Washington and Pyongyang,” he continued.
According to Stavridis, Trump’s best bet is to court international allies to ramp up pressure on North Korea while bolstering U.S. missile defense systems.
“What we need to do is increase our missile defense capability,” he said. “We need to internationalize this problem instead of treating it as though it’s the United States versus North Korea. This should be about the world versus North Korea.”
CIA Director Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, threw water on claims that the current situation between the U.S. and North Korea is poised to escalate into a nuclear conflict.
“I’ve seen no intelligence to indicate that we’re in that place today,” Pompeo told “Fox News Sunday.”
“This administration has made our policy very clear. We’ve engaged the world to support that policy,” he continued.
National security adviser H.R. McMaster also said it isn’t likely that Americans are going to see a war between the U.S. and North Korea in short order.
“I think we’re not closer to war than a week ago,” McMaster said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“But we are closer to war than we were a decade ago.”
That’s why, McMaster said, Trump is currently working to build an international deterrent against North Korean aggression.
“It demands a concerted effort by the United States, but with our allies and with all responsible nations,” he said.
“And this is what you’ve seen the president do is bring together all nations.”
The Distraction
Talk not involving North Korea ought to be wholly focused on getting the Trump administrations legislative agenda moving forward. But weekend protests and senseless violence resulting in loss of life in Charlottesville, Va., dominated discussions.
Most of the talk centered around Trump’s response to the the situation.
Trump focused on lingering hate an intolerance in the U.S. which emanates from all sides in his response to news that a white nationalist march had resulted in violence over the weekend.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” Trump said. “It has been going on for a long time in our country — not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.”
Trump’s response was immediately taken by the left as a sign of administration unwillingness to admit the existence of right wing extremism.