Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ The big news continues to be tension in Korea, where Vice President Pence is visiting and told the North Koreans not to mistake the president’s resolve
Comment: This is a crisis of choice, in a sense. Trump, like Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, could have kicked it down the road. All those presidents tried and failed to resolve the issue.
Delay is not always a bad solution, but it’s not always a good one, either. You have to figure out whether time is on your side or your adversary’s.
The problem here is that North Korea is making steady progress on two deadly fronts, and it is no longer willing to delay them for small bribes, like those paid by previous administrations.
North Korea is getting better at building nuclear bombs. It is trying hard to make them smaller, so they can fit on a missile, and it is trying to build a hydrogen bomb. Second, it is making steady progress building medium-range missiles and is seeking to build an ICBM. The combination of small nukes and long-range missiles would put the US within range of nuclear attack by a hyper-dangerous regime whose leader does not appear to be calm, steady, and rational.
The US has long said a North Korean nuclear threat to the US was unacceptable. Saying it, as several presidents have, is a far cry from making it an effective policy. That is what none have been able to do, and not for lack of trying. Trump seems to be doing something. We don’t know exactly what and we don’t know how effective he and his team will be. We do know it is risky to try; the Trump team has calculated that it is far more dangerous in the long run to sit and wait.
Over the longer horizon, then, it is Pyongyang’s policies and erratic, bellicose pronouncements that created the crisis.
Over the short term, though, the crisis was initiated by the US.
My interpretation: Trump, Mattis, Tillerson, and McMaster (and probably Coats and Pompeo) looked that North Korea’s military program and asked themselves a fundamental question: Is time on our side or theirs? If it is on ours, then delay. If it is on their’s, then force the issue. We can see first-hand what their strategic assessment is.
The hard part now is to force the issue with threats and not the actual use of force, which could lead to vast casualties.
In using threats, Trump has a huge advantage over Obama. Trump’s threats to use force are credible. The Chinese and North Koreans–and America’s friends in the region–have to take that seriously for the first time in years.
◆ “Calexit” supporters drop their secession bid . . . for now (Washington Post)
Comment: Ken Burns is particularly disappointed. His proposed PBS series began with a letter,
My dearest Tiffany–
If we should lose tomorrow’s battle, if I should die far from the gnarly waves of Newport Beach, I want you to know . . . .
◆ New York Times runs op-ed by “a leader and parliamentarian.” That’s what the NYT calls him–and that’s all they say.
The paper overlooked his day job: he’s a convicted terrorist who murdered five Israelis.
Comment: You really can’t blame the Times if a writer omits a detail from their résumé.
Of course, the writer is the most prominent Palestinian terrorist in jail. The NYT deliberately hid the crucial information about his murders from readers.
To compound this nasty piece of work, the Times ran it to gin up American public support for a hunger strike by jailed Palestinians.
The Daily Caller excoriates the paper, rightly.
And Elliott Abrams, writing for the Council on Foreign Relations blog, rips the Times a new one. Well worth reading. His conclusion nails a crucial point: the readers deserve the information.
◆ Shocking News: The US economy keeps growing but electricity use is flat. That’s what Bloomberg says. Per capita, it has fallen for six straight years.
◆ Lawsuit of the Day:
- Professor comes into Wal-Mart to get fishing license
- Get license but finds his employment listed as “toilet cleaner”
- Humorless fisherman files suit
Comment: According to the lawsuit, the professor feared mockery every time he yelled “I caught another big one.”
◆ A serious story on the sexual-harrassment allegations against Bill O’Reilly (Washington Post)
A key part of the story is the allegation by a Los Angeles author and radio personality, Wendy Walsh, who is not seeking money, which then led to an independent investigation by the prominent NYC law firm. It was the law firm’s negative findings on Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes that led to his departure.
As the Washington Post puts it:
A similar fate [to Ailes] could await O’Reilly; a negative finding by the law firm could force the hands of Fox News Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, who run Fox’s parent company.–Washington Post
◆ Here is tomorrow’s Washington Post opinion page. Notice a pattern?
The list continues beyond this screenshot. It is, as the mathematicians say, “finite but large.”
♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
◆ Robert Lieber and Ed Lasky for different reports on the New York Times‘ hiding the background of a Palestinian terrorist.