Shadows of War, a River of Blood


Fifteen years ago, a fictional President walks past his Intelligence Director.

President Bartlet: What’s the CIA know that I should know?

Director Clark: Neighbors are… swapping family members.

The President passes the information on to his Chief of Staff:

Bartlet: Clark says neighbors are swapping family members in Khundu.

Leo: Really?

Then to Leo’s deputy:

Bartlet: Hey, Josh. There’s intelligence that Khundunese neighbors in the country are swapping family members.

Josh: Sorry, I don’t – I don’t unders…

Bartlet: For the night, they’re swapping family members, you know, and sleeping in each other’s houses.

Few of us would recognize the terrible signal this represents, the presage of genocidal atrocity. Those who have spent their professional lives would remember what happened in Rwanda, as Hutus prepared to butcher Tutsies to the edge of extinction.

Experts would know what the Serb dominated government ordered done to Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina leading up to the killing fields.
Continue reading “Shadows of War, a River of Blood”

When Trump Meets Kim – One Precondition We Must Demand

In the Presidential debate of July, 2007, the candidates are talking about talking.

The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them — which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration — is ridiculous.

Senator Barrack Obama, July 24, 2007

Presidential candidate Barrack Obama came under sustained attack during the summer of 2007 for his openness to talks with countries who had no love for the United States. The question he had answered dealt not only with Iran, but also with Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea. That would be Kim Jong Un’s North Korea. The totalitarian dictatorship that has imprisoned the northern half, and threatened the southern half, of the Korean Peninsula for longer than the grandparents of most of the world’s citizens have been alive.

Senator Obama took a lot of heat for that.

This is dangerous. It isn’t just naive; it’s dangerous.

Senator John McCain, October 14, 2008

Obama was right. His critics were wrong.

We don’t talk with our adversaries because we agree with them. We talk with them because we disagree. The purpose of talking, even with enemies, is to find some area, however small, where a meeting of the minds can happen.

That is why I cautiously agreed with Donald Trump when he was still candidate Trump. He told Reuters News Agency what approach he would take with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

I would speak to him. I would have no problem speaking to him.

Donald Trump, May 18, 2016

There are, of course, dangers in such talks, dangers that are magnified by quantum levels beyond any that our last President might have faced.

President Obama was nearly obsessive in preparing for every eventuality. His daily briefings were detailed. Even at that, he frequently asked for, and got, additional background sourced information.

President Trump famously regards daily briefings as a sign of mental weakness.

You know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years.

Donald Trump, December 11, 2016

Cartoonist Garry Trudeau had some fun, a couple of weeks back, imagining schoolchild Donny Trump refusing to read the class assignment. “Reading is for losers!” he declares to a classmate. “I’m about winning.”

In class, the teacher calls on him. What does he think European countries have to fear from Russia?

He has no idea, not having read the assignment. So he tries to bluff his way through.

“Well, I want to just start by saying hopefully they’re going to have to fear nothing, ultimately. Right now there is a fear, and there are problems — there are certainly problems.”

The child babbles on. The teacher looks skeptical.

“But ultimately, I hope that there won’t be a fear and there won’t be problems, and the world can get along. That would be the ideal situation.”

The teacher gets impatient. Donny is determined to come up with words that will give the illusion of preparation.

“It’s crazy what’s going on — whether it’s the Middle East or you look at — no matter where the — Ukraine — you look at — whatever you look at, it’s got problems, so many problems.”

Finally the teacher interrupts. “So no clue.”

The cartoon would be a harmless, pretty much meaningless, slap, but Trudeau reveals what inspired the fictional classroom dialogue.

Well, I want to just start by saying hopefully they’re going to have to fear nothing, ultimately. Right now there is a fear, and there are problems — there are certainly problems. But ultimately, I hope that there won’t be a fear and there won’t be problems, and the world can get along. That would be the ideal situation.

It’s crazy what’s going on — whether it’s the Middle East or you look at — no matter where the — Ukraine — you look at — whatever you look at, it’s got problems, so many problems. And ultimately, I believe that we are going to get rid of most of those problems, and there won’t be fear of anybody. That’s the way it should be.

Donald Trump, Press Conference, April 12, 2017

Yeah, that’s the way it should be.

The problem with unconditional talks with this President is one not faced by our last President. Little Donny Trump has grown up, but the stubborn refusal to prepare lives on. His lack of preparation, the fast-talking bluff-your-way-through approach, lends itself to blunders in a nuclear age. His need to impress combines with panic when he has no knowledge with which to impress. He seizes whatever tiny morsels of information are available. Sometimes this includes what his visitors let him know.

Intelligence experts tell us that Russia is not the only country that has figured out how to push the right buttons to convince Donald Trump of just about anything. Personal flattery, especially about his intelligence and political prowess, can lay the groundwork. Then, a foreign leader need only put whatever spin is needed on policy.

The strategy has worked for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Russia has had additional advantages, but Sergey Kislyak has used flattery, artful spin of information, and a skillful exploitation of a Presidential craving to impress. Saudi Arabia has met with President Trump and now has an agreement to a new arsenal of arms. The combination has even worked to a lesser degree for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. The President blusters before meeting. Then, across the negotiating table, he wilts when flattered. When he is then confronted with a tsunami of information and spin, he is helpless.

His meeting with the leader of China is one small example. As long as he was out of the presence of President Xi Jinping, he could boast about the tough approach he would take. On retaliating against China’s currency manipulation, he previews his planned hard line:

Listen you m*** f***s, we’re going to tax you 25%.

Donald Trump, April 28, 2011

More calmly, and more recently, he explains how China controls North Korea, and how he will control China. The Korean problem will be ended immediately.

At the same time, I would put a lot of pressure on China because economically we have tremendous power over China. People don’t realize that. They are extracting vast billions of dollars out of our country. Billions. And we have tremendous power over China. China can solve that problem with one meeting or one phone call.

Donald Trump, May 16, 2017

Face to face with China’s President, Xi Jinping, things change quickly.

President Xi explains many things to him, and student Trump becomes devoted to newly discovered truth. Hostility is gone. Peace reigns as he copies from the Chinese leader’s paper.

China, as it turns out, is not a currency manipulator after all. The situation with North Korea turns out to be very complicated. Much more complicated than most people realize. And, one very interesting piece of history that is not generally known, China has a history with Korea. In fact, China has a legitimate claim. Korea has historically been part of China.

That last provoked rage in South Korea, but President Trump had been taught by the best.

All that had to happen was a bit of education, one President to another.

So, yeah, I still favor a meeting with North Korea. Every citizen ought to. Congress and the Senate should support our President. Democrats and Republicans should have his back.

But everyone, in government and out, public officials and ordinary citizens, should insist on one and only one precondition.

We must demand, before any meeting with President Trump, North Korea will make one firm guarantee.

Kim Jong Un must first agree never to educate our President.

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