Thoughts on the President’s Remarks to the UN General Assembly

I originally did this as a comment to BettyC’s post, but decided I wanted to elevate it to the front page, make a tweak or two, and add a couple of additional points.

The President’s remarks today are clearly a Stephen Miller authored speech. With the exception of the Rocket Man quip. It is Miller channeling all of his own naive, arrested development sense of entitlement, paranoia, pettiness, grievances, anger, rage, and woeful ignorance of foreign and national security policy and strategy, the global system and how it works, and any state and society other than the US. It is also Miller channeling the President’s naive sense of entitlement, paranoia, pettiness, grievances, anger, rage, and woeful ignorance of foreign and national security policy and strategy, the global system and how it works, and any state and society other than the US. The ego fluffing bits about how great things are in the US under the President are Miller making sure his boss’s ego is stroked.

This would have been bad enough and inappropriate at a campaign rally, it is even worse at the UN General Assembly. Threatening to abrogate the P5+1 agreement with Iran is only going to make dealing with the DPRK worse. What Kim really wants is an assurance that the US will 1) not remove him and 2) will negotiate with him in good faith over whatever it is that Kim wants other than reassurance he won’t be removed. The threat to abrogate the agreement with Iran makes that virtually impossible. Moreover, it makes it almost virtually impossible to negotiate anything with any other state or supranational entity as no one will now believe that the US will live up to its commitments under the current administration and president. The President holds a mistaken belief that every agreement the US has entered into that he has not negotiated are bad for the US; should never have been entered into; and as a result should be abrogated. This just happens to be every single one as he and his administration haven’t negotiated any agreements since taking office in January. It demonstrates how little he and Miller understand how any of this works. If I was the governors of Alaska, Louisiana, and Arkansas I would be very worried that their states are going to be handed back to Russia and France respectively. Governor Abbot should also begin learning how to ask President Nieto for things once we give Texas back to Mexico as well. As should Governor Ducey of Arizona and Governor Martinez of New Mexico.

Kori Schake, who has held appointments at the Department of Defense, the National Security Council, and the Department of State, and is currently at the Hoover Institution at Stanford has written an excellent essay explaining just what total destruction means in light of the President’s remarks regarding the DPRK.

President Trump took the exact opposite course in his speech today. Moreover, before the entire world, he threatened the destruction of an entire country. Not only does that draw a red line that will be difficult to walk back from; it is also a much less credible and ethical threat than a pledge to more narrowly target the Kim regime. Waging war against people already enslaved by an authoritarian government punishes them unjustly—that would have been an easy point score in front of a UN audience.

While I highly recommend the whole essay, I want to focus on this portion. When campaign plans are developed there are a list of action words that the planners and those pulled into the operational planning teams (OPTs) use. Total destruction is not one of them. What the President is potentially calling for here is the complete reduction of the DPRK. Reduction of an enemy is a tactical term (Chapter 6, paragraph 18):

The reduction of an encircled enemy force continues without interruption, using the maximum concentration of forces and fires, until the encircled enemy force’s complete destruction or surrender.

There is no way to totally destroy (reduce) the DPRK as a state without destroying the DPRK as a society. This means destroying the North Koreans who make up the DPRK as both state and society. Total destruction doesn’t refer to a strategic strike to decapitate the leadership of the government and the military. Nor was it qualified as a strategic strike to solely and specifically reduce the DPRK’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, as well as its offensive military capabilities that could be directed at its neighbors. It was a warning that the President of the United States has considered and is willing to authorize the DPRK’s “complete destruction or surrender”. Given that it is unlikely that Kim would surrender… And none of this seems to account for the damage and destruction to the Republic of Korea, Japan, Guam, and the tremendous loss of life that war on the Korean peninsula would engender.

This speech is a good example of the limits of the abilities of the reasonable advisors and staffers to constrain and contain the President, his worst impulses, and the worst impulses of his advisors such as Miller. I think it is highly likely that there was originally a draft speech prepared and vetted through the Interagency with inputs from Secretaries Mattis and Tillerson, LTG McMaster, Ambassador Haley, Gary Cohn, and others which was then handed to Stephen Miller by the President with instructions to MAGA it up. And MAGA it up he did. Eventually the bad reviews will filter up to the President’s attention, whether tonight when he’s back in the residence this evening on his own watching cable TV or tomorrow morning when he’s watching Morning Joe. At that point expect the usual tweetstorm.



Late Evening Open Thread: Florida Man and Woman in the Wake of Hurricane Irma Edition

It’s too late in the evening for another serious post, so here’s some Florida man and woman for you.

A Florida man and woman were arrested for stealing downed power lines after Hurricane Irma, according to officials.

Deputies were called to an Altamonte Springs neighborhood Sept. 16 after a neighbor said two people were cutting downed power lines on his property.

Deputies said the power lines were down after a pole snapped in half during Hurricane Irma.

The power was out and the neighborhood was dark, deputies said.

Deputies found $5,000 worth of power lines cut up in the back of a truck.

They questioned Charles Mahoy, 41, and Andrea Foster, 45, and found methamphetamine and marijuana in the truck, deputies said.

Mahoy and Foster were arrested on suspicion of larceny during a state of emergency, criminal mischief and drug possession.

Apparently it’s something of a crime epidemic:

Open thread!



Reinforce good behavior

For those who live in Arizona — encourage good behavior

And if need be, drink after you thank the very nice intern for working for such a Mavericky Maverick.



Checking In: Weathering the Storm


Just a quick note from here in Pinellas County. The local meteorologists I’m watching are forecasting that Irma is going to go more north than northwest. This means it’s going to go over Lakeland and Polk County and a bit of eastern Hillsborough County. They’re estimating near to and/or category 1 gusts for that area in about 90 minutes.

Orlando has also been taking a beating with about 70 mph gusts for several hours or so because of how the rain bands have moved. Naples took a beating, but that beating and Irma staying over land has helped the storm to weaken and begin to unravel.

Should this forecast hold, then the eye will pass east of Tampa Bay. This keeps us in this area on the west and less dangerous side of the storm. Though Ft. DeSoto Park in southwestern Pinellas County just registered a 76 mph wind gust. A heavy, hurricane force rain band is just moving over the area. Very quickly fortunately.

We’re safe. Dry, unless I go out with the dogs…  And we’ve still got power for now. I’ll check in in the comments as long as I’ve got either wifi or cell service.

We are also well hydrated!

 



Site News: Hurricane

(This is a re-post from Saturday evening for those who may have missed it)

Folks,

Our hosting company, Hosting Matters, is in reach of Irma. So lines or power could go down and so could this site. They have generators, backups, all kinds of great and groovy stufff, but shit happens.

Luckily, we have a test server. Right now, it’s configured for test usage, not live site usage. So please don’t go there to check it out. But, should the main site go down, I will upgrade the memory and processers so you can use it instead. It is hosted far away from Irma (or José, for that matter!)

Even after memory and CPU upgrades, it will be much less powerful then the main server, but it will work to keep the community going.

Please consider the site a resource to help get through Irma, and whatever cruel twist of fate José might offer.

Your normal nyms should work, and it should work and look like the main site but there may be twitches – it’s a development, testing, and staging site.

The site is at https://test.balloon-juice.com

I will repost this post over the next day or so, stopping when the threat to the main site has passed.



Site News: Hurricane

Folks,

Our hosting company, Hosting Matters, is in reach of Irma. So lines or power could go down and so could this site. They have generators, backups, all kinds of great and groovy stufff, but shit happens.

Luckily, we have a test server. Right now, it’s configured for test usage, not live site usage. So please don’t go there to check it out. But, should the main site go down, I will upgrade the memory and processers so you can use it instead. It is hosted far away from Irma (or José, for that matter!)

Even after memory and CPU upgrades, it will be much less powerful then the main server, but it will work to keep the community going.

Please consider the site a resource to help get through Irma, and whatever cruel twist of fate José might offer.

Your normal nyms should work, and it should work and look like the main site but there may be twitches – it’s a development, testing, and staging site.

The site is at https://test.balloon-juice.com

I will repost this post over the next day or so, stopping when the threat to the main site has passed.



Upstate NY Man! Sharks Without Frikkin Laser Beams Attached to Their Heads Edition

NBC New York has the details:

Seven live sharks and three dead ones have been seized from a pool in the basement of a home in the Hudson Valley.

Officers searching a home in the Dutchess County hamlet of LaGrangeville last month found a 15-foot-diameter aboveground basement pool with seven live sandbar sharks, two dead leopard sharks and one dead hammerhead shark, officials said Wednesday.

All the sharks were 2 feet to 4 feet long, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Marine wildlife experts took blood samples and measured and tagged the sharks before transferring them to the Long Island Aquarium in a truck equipped with water tanks, oxygen and climate control.

 No one has been charged. An investigation is continuing.
Obligatory: