The commander of American forces in the Pacific has ordered an aircraft carrier and several other warships toward the Korean Peninsula —
a show of force by the Trump administration just days after North Korea tested another intermediate-range missile.
The officer, Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., the head of the military’s Pacific Command,
diverted the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and its wing of fighter jets from a planned series of exercises and port calls in Australia, the command said in a statement.
The Vinson and three guided-missile destroyers and cruisers steamed out of Singapore on Saturday for their new mission in the Western Pacific.
“North Korea has been engaged in a pattern of provocative behavior,” General McMaster said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“This is a rogue regime that is now a nuclear-capable regime.”
The White House said in a statement on Sunday Trump had spoken to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan the day before on many issues, including the North Korean nuclear threat.
Military and intelligence officials said the timing of the ship movements was also intended to anticipate a milestone event coming up on the Korean Peninsula:
the anniversary on Saturday of the birth of Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s founder and the grandfather of the country’s current leader, Kim Jong-un.
North Korea has a history of testing missiles and generally taking provocative actions during such events.
By dispatching the Vinson, the US is signaling to the North Koreans that even as it focuses on Syria, it has not forgotten about them …
According to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — an unreliable source if ever there was one —
Xi told Trump during their meetings at Mar-a-Lago that he agreed that the threat posed by North Korea had reached a “very serious stage” —
except that, since there was no joint statement by the two leaders, we have no idea what Xi might have meant by this routine phrasing,
since, obviously, no concrete measures to deal with this “serious” situation came out of the meetings.
Tillerson also said:
“In terms of North Korea, we have been very clear that our objective is a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.
We have no objective to change the regime in North Korea; that is not our objective.”
North Korea, however, has stepped up its provocations.
A day before Trump met with Xi, Pyongyang tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile.
South Korean and American specialists said the missile tested on Wednesday, which the South Korean military said flew a mere 37 miles,
was probably a modified version of either the Scud-ER or Pukguksong-2, or perhaps a new missile —
even an early version of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Analysts have said that, as North Korea was developing its first submarine-launched ballistic missile last year, it accumulated technology incrementally,
with a series of tests in which projectiles flew only short distances or exploded soon after launching.
Which means, of course, that the fact the latest missile test went only 37 miles doesn’t necessarily mean it was a failure —
just another step in an obviously-thought-out systematic progression.
The US has been conducting an electronic and cyberwarfare campaign aimed at sabotaging Pyongyang’s missile tests in their opening seconds.
But it was impossible to determine whether that program affected the launch last week.
Asked how close North Korea was to developing a weapon that could reach the United States, Tillerson said on ABC:
“The assessments are, obviously, somewhat difficult, but clearly, he has made significant advancements in delivery systems. And that is what concerns us the most.”
Tillerson added: “The sophistication around their rocket launch programs, their sophistication around the type of fueling that they use,
and they’re working their way towards the test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
And these are the kinds of progress that give us the greatest concerns.”
And, of course, the lack of any concrete results from the summit —
aside from a “fig-leaf” agreement of a 100-day “report” about US / China trade —
was precisely what Trump & his pals wanted to obscure —
especially since they had been blustering loudly about the North Korea situation before Xi showed up.
Prior to the summit meeting last week, Trump sought to increase pressure on China,
saying that it was time for Beijing to rein in its Communist ally.
In an interview with The Financial Times published on April 2, he said, “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.”
But he did not say how.
In the meetings between Xi and Trump, the Chinese made no new offers about how to deal with Kim’s government, according to an American official.
And it was precisely this LACK of any new offers from China re North Korea that the Trump regime was doing everything to hide —
again, DESPITE Trump’s swaggering rhetoric in the FT interview before the summit.
THAT was the real purpose of the Syrian strike …
And insofar as the pathetic US media responded in a Pavlov-like way about Trump being “presidential”,
the transparent maneuver achieved its goal — distracting the US media from the evident failure of the Xi / Trump meeting,
and the fact that Xi and the Chinese — as well as the rest of the world — are simply not impressed, or scared, by Trump’s continuing bluster.
Trump has truly turned the US into a pathetic paper tiger.