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Donald Trump is hurtling the world towards crisis. He needs to go.

Scott Gilmore: In his bellicose tweets about North Korea, Donald Trump is doing the opposite of crisis management.


 
U.S. President Donald Trump (R), flanked by Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price, delivers remarks on North Korea during an opioid-related briefing at Trump's golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., August 8, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump (R), flanked by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, delivers remarks on North Korea at his golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey, Aug. 8, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Well, that escalated quickly. One day we are puzzling over why Chris Pratt and Anna Faris broke up, the next day we are wondering if there is going to be a nuclear war. As has been the case almost every week since Donald Trump was inaugurated, we need to stop and figure out how we got here.

During the election campaign, Trump repeatedly blustered that he had a plan to deal with countries like North Korea. He did not have a plan. After North Korea conducted a series of intercontinental missile tests last month, Trump made an off-the-cuff announcement that the U.S. was ready to unleash “fire and fury”. In response, Pyongyang threatened to launch missiles at Guam. Meanwhile, on Wall Street, investment firms began calculating the impact of a nuclear war on the Dow Jones.

MORE: North Korea missiles are reaching higher and further than ever before

This row is moving fast, but we appear to be still some way from the actual brink. No senior officials are echoing his heated rhetoric. In fact, they are downplaying his threats. More importantly, there have been no changes to the American military posture in the east and the Pentagon’s DefCon level has not changed. Any conventional military attack on North Korea would require months of logistical preparation, including moving fleets and battle groups into the region and withdrawing the tens of thousands of American civilians from South Korea.

Unfortunately, an unconventional attack needs almost no preparation and could be launched by Trump whenever he wants.

READ: Why we need to start worrying and fear the bomb

I had intended to write that the one thing we don’t have to worry about is a first strike by the United States. I believed that the Pentagon would require legal authority that could only be given by Congress. After reading several legal opinions, I realized I was sadly misinformed.

While some lawmakers argue the president’s sole control of the nuclear arsenal is unconstitutional, this has not been tested in the courts and all of the current military operating procedures assume he does. And the Pentagon does not require a declaration of war from Congress. Theoretically this is necessary, but the U.S. has not declared war on anyone since the Second World War, not Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq, nor Syria. So, as incredible as it sounds, if Donald Trump decided to nuke Pyongyang he can, and in fact there is a military aide who follows him around 24/7 with a briefcase that is designed to help him do just that in seconds.

Scholars who study the Cuban Missile Crisis almost universally emphasize that in order to successfully navigate a similar emergency, leaders need to slow down events. If you respond with smaller measures in more increments time is gained to better understand what is happening and to find new options. Trump is doing the opposite, leaping forward with each new bellicose tweet, and proving he has no instinct for crisis management. He seems to have learned negotiation tactics from Quentin Tarantino, not Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

Perhaps, we can take a small amount of solace from the hope neither Kim Jong Un nor Trump are irrational. There is a misperception that the North Korean dictator, like his father before him, is mad. This is easy to conclude, when you consider the outrageous statements regularly issued by his government. But there is a consensus among foreign policy experts that this seemingly erratic and bellicose behaviour is calculated to extract as many concessions from the international community as possible. In essence, Pyongyang believes the madman act keeps the outside world off-balance and more willing to just ship them more wheat instead of testing how crazy Kim really is.

READ: Will North Korea attack the U.S.?

The U.S. president is also a rational actor, but one who is following a unique logic. Trump has demonstrated for decades he can always be counted on to act in his own best interest. And he defines best interest as whatever makes him look good. The risk here is that anything that looks like “backing down” will be seen as personal defeat for Trump, something he might try to avoid at all costs (the emphasis on ‘all’).

The great irony here is that the Russians may provide the best solution to a crisis that any previous president would have avoided. They, with China, are proposing a “double freeze” to cool tensions—a pledge by North Korea to stop missile tests in return for the United States halting military exercises. But the only lasting solution to this current crisis, and the others that will inevitably follow, is the removal of Donald Trump. The silver lining in this unnecessary crisis is that it may further erode Trump’s support within the Republican Party, and accelerate efforts to remove him from office.

MORE ABOUT NORTH KOREA:


 

Donald Trump is hurtling the world towards crisis. He needs to go.

  1. 60 years of doing nothing and looking the other way when it comes to North Korea, and China’s support of North Korea have gotten us here. It did not escalate quickly. It was slowly and surely escalating over two generations.

    North Korea is perhaps a year or two away from a nuclear tipped ICBM that can hit any city in the continental United States (and Canada).

    Blaming Trump for the failure of Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, and Kennedy is wrongheaded.

    • Just more ridiculous, lefty biased crap from Gilmore.

      • But he’s a “Conservative”. Just ask his wife.

  2. Sooo Komarade Gilmore let me get this straight Kimmy is launching missiles left and right threatening to Nuc the USA and you say that Trump is the problem…

    • It’s more nuanced than that, so try to concentrate: Yes, “Kimmy” is the problem, but the President is supposed to have the solution, not be making the situation worse. This president has no plan, but rather is all about bluff and bluster. International foreign policy is not conducted with boastful threats launched via Twitter. Do you seriously trust this man to get this right?

      • Getting this right is fairly straightforward. Trump needs to kill every living thing on the Korean peninsula between the 38th parallel and the Yalu river. Or at least get close enough to reduce North Korea to the stone age.

        • Wow? lets just murder millions of people and solve the problem? Wow! evil is the person who believes in killing millions of people to solve anything!

      • Trump ain’t taking any crap from that little sh!t… KJU lives in a dream world where he thinks he is a God. Trump is gonna wake him up.

      • @Killarney – Your rant would have some strength if you were able to suggest the name of someone to whom you could trust to “get this right”.

        Meaning, someone not in the mould of “Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, and Kennedy ” .

  3. The 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, with neither side able to claim outright victory. Decades on, the truce is still all that technically prevents North Korea and the US – along with its ally South Korea – resuming the war, as no peace treaty has ever been signed.

    • Every million Koreans Trump kills will save ten million dogs. Light ’em up.

  4. Macleans is still bleating plaintively about how the new US president is shocking and offensive to its corporate sponsors, and the social programming which they’re using to try to make us better citizens.

    I assume the writer of this article is an expert in diplomacy, and not just talking about his feelings. I’m certain he realizes this is the US president, so his votes and feelings are completely irrelevant.

    And I assume the writer has warm fuzzy feelings about our own PM, the topless-hiking selfie-taking panderer to all special interests, billionaires and those who self-identify as oppressed victim.

    Of course we can’t blame Mr. Trudeau for the fact that the armoured vehicles which he sold to the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the middle east, Saudi Arabia, are being used for atrocities against civilians. Really, who could have seen that one coming?

    And certainly we can’t blame our photogenic PM for cozying up to China, even though they have been killing dissidents and Falun Gong practitioners by the millions for decades, and selling their organs in military hospitals.

    The real mission of Canadian activist writers is not criticizing our own greedy hypocritical prime minister, or the cruel dictatorships we support, but making sure our citizens and close allies use language which is inclusive and doesn’t offend what our hive-mind comrades have been told they believe.

    • Rolling Stone called Trudeau “the free world’s best hope”. Oh my gawd, we’re screwed.

  5. DT is doing the world a favor. KJU is a madman and will strike first. KJU has to go.

  6. What did leftists blame everything on before Trump?

  7. “After reading several legal opinions, I realized I was sadly misinformed.”

    Finally, Mr. Gilmore, you’ve got that right. But it is noticeable that your use of the word ‘misinformed’ implies that the error lies elsewhere. It is unfortunate that the word doesn’t appear in all your articles.

  8. It would be a disaster for Trump to go as Pence would take over. How would that chane anything ?

    I have a better suggestion. Wait Trump out and let him do his share of damage to his country – for which he was elected.

    • Yes, you’re correct, he’s doing exactly what he was elected for. When he has dealt with KimJong Un, no doubt, he’ll focus on fundamentalist Islam.

      • I think it would be fine if Pence took over. I don’t believe the left wing MSM has the same maliciousness for him that they do for Trump. The U.S. with Pence could get on with Trump’s fine policies but without all the distractions and drama.

  9. Are you kidding?? Americanos love this finger on the trigger, blast ’em to hell, shoot’em up rhetoric. DT will be president forever ….

  10. North Korea is a nuclear state today because of decades of U.S. presidents, Republican and Democratic, following the scholarly advice to ‘slow down’ events. Kim Jong-un has repeatedly negotiated in bad faith and broken agreements aimed at curbing his nuclear ambitions.

    Trump has accomplished a major goal no other President has achieved. He has gotten the Chinese government to formally announce they will not back North Korea in any military engagement in which North Korea is the hostile party.

    Kudos to Gilmore for at least admitting that Trump is not irrational. I hope he is correct in saying Kim is also not irrational.

    • Unfortunately, we can assume that the Xi-Kim clique will be happy with an agreement to halt the launch of missiles. Then, Kim will be able to continue with further construction of missiles (to be fitted to Chinese launch equipment) and the US will be unable to do anything … except the useless transfer of strong words … or a (OMG) pre-emptive strike.

  11. obama used strong language against Krazy Kim…why didn’t the media go crazy over his remarks?

  12. My God, only this place can turn a piece about 45 into a diatribe against Trudeau. You’re all children.

    As to ‘how did we get here’… Putting aside the whole Johnson/Kennedy/Regan etc, etc, etc, we ended up here because people didn’t tell DT to STFU when they had the chance. Being polite, being sarcastic, rolling our collective media eyes at his outrageous birther claims, his “you’re fired” tag line, his ridiculous tweets has led us to this moment.

    If only someone had the cajones to NOT RESPOND to his stupidity, just as you do with a tantruming toddler, we may not be in this situation today. By giving him air time, by actually responding to his narcissistic need to tweet policy and turn things back to himself, by not pressing him on the questions during his run, by not calling him out on his name calling and bullying of other candidates, those who we the public depend upon to ask the questions for us (ie: the MEDIA) allowed this to happen.

    Every time he called someone a name “dirty”, “lyin'”, “crooked”, someone should have said, “That’s not acceptable.”

    Every time he said, “Someone told me”, “Many people say”, and “I’ve heard from many sources”, someone should have said, “Who, exactly? Who was it? Give us names. Give us REFERENCES and CITATIONS”.

    Because you sure as hell made sure Hilary had to. You sure as hell didn’t let one single thing get past you from her.

    We arrived at this moment because the system was so corrupt, that people actually thought a reality show, D-list millionaire with delusions of grandeur, who privately craved the approval of those he despised publicly, could straighten things out.

    Congratulations, America. You’ve voted in Archie Bunker. Only without any of his redeeming qualities. Hope you’re happy.

    • You forgot to add the time when DT had his cabinet pay homage to him around the table ….

      • RIGHT?!

        There are tons I’ve not included – the list would be too long and too depressing. Each time I think, “That’s the worst!” something WORSE comes along.

        • You are 100% correct Mary, but that display of narcissistic behaviour stands out …. and is kinda my favourite ….

    • I suggest you stop watching CNN and take a deep breath, because you seem to be very badly informed and hysterical.

      You clearly didn’t notice that during the election, all of the mainstream media gave “The Butcher of Benghazi” Clinton the benefit of the doubt on every part of her crooked incompetent past, and since the election have been on an ideological crusade against the Trump administration based on unconfirmed reports from unnamed experts, without any REFERENCES or CITATIONS.

      We arrived at this moment because people were tired of corporate-owned politicians openly accepting millions of dollars from arms manufacturers, evil billionaires and foreign dictators during the election, while wearing hideous pant suits.

      • Jake … you don’t need to be an expert to understand that DT is an idiot. He has proved it everyday of his incompetent administration and well before that … Lift your head up out of the dirt and take a look around … he has screwed up everything he has touched …

        • I don’t have a strong opinion on Trump, as he seems to be doing most of the stupid reckless things that Baby-Eater Clinton was promising to do, and has broken most of his positive-sounding promises.

          The only good thing I can say about him is that he hasn’t enacted all the thoughtcrime / Sharia laws pandering to identity politics which our idiot PM has, which the witch likely would have done.

          My point is that mainstream media — and notably this feelings-based rag — is clearly not being objective in any way, have been in an ideological hysteria since they failed to hand the election to Killary.

          If you watch CNN, or read Macleans, and think it’s news, you will believe what you are being told to believe, which is that DT is and idiot and is Offensive to the hive-mind and the interests of the corporations which own the news.

    • Yes, because the previous government is ALWAYS to blame. Don’t forget who took out Khadafi and installed Hussein and then changed their minds about that and took him out. No one administration is infallible – they’ve all screwed up.

      If 45 is as great as he keeps telling us he is, he’d have ‘fixed’ the ACA, passed a budget, fixed tax reform, built a wall, and solved the Middle Eastern shit-show.

      “Believe me.” “It’s easy.” “No one can do it as well as I can.” “I won’t be golfing all the time.” “I’ll work hard for you.” “I won’t take a penny of my salary. I don’t need it.” “I can fix it all.” “Believe me, folks, believe me.”

      And they did.
      And they wondered why he hasn’t fixed anything.
      And they still think he’s doing a good job.

      • “If 45 is as great as he keeps telling us he is, he’d have ‘fixed’ the ACA, passed a budget, fixed tax reform, built a wall, and solved the Middle Eastern shit-show”

        And every time he tries…Congress, the Senate and other special interest groups keep undermining his base of support. Kind of hard to do anything, when you are constantly being hamstrung.

        What, you think he can just wave a magic wand and magically fix anything? It takes lots of time and lots of compromise to get anywhere in Washington D.C these days with the electorate and politicians so polarized these days.

      • Your naivete about hoe things actually work is absolutely refreshing, even for a leftist.
        The “Divide & Conquer” narrative is working.
        Just keep on virtue-signalling until the bombs drop, and we are all free.

  13. Nice use of hyperbole there Mr. Gilmore. Let’s see if I can do it too.

    “Scott Gilmore is hurtling the world towards stupidity and illiteracy. He needs to go.”

    Yep…oh wait…that’s not hyperbole…that’s a honest assessment.

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