Last week, Trump was bellowing up one side and down the other about a possible nuclear test that North Korea was set to conduct over the weekend. He claimed we might launch a pre-emptive strike against them, and that we had two ships in the region already From an NBC News story dated April 13:
“The intelligence officials told NBC News that the U.S. has positioned two destroyers capable of shooting Tomahawk cruise missiles in the region, one just 300 miles from the North Korean nuclear test site…and earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group was being diverted to the area.” [emphasis mine]
Turns out, that wasn’t true.
The “armada” Trump was speaking of was, at the time, headed the opposite way toward Australia, and had not been turned around. It wasn’t until the Navy posted a photo of the Carl Vinson and its strike group in the sea between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra that the story came out. The photo was taken on Saturday, Apr. 15, a few days after we heard that the Carl Vinson had been diverted and was heading toward the Sea of Japan.
Now it’s headed that way and should arrive sometime next week. Two weeks after we told the world it was already heading there.
So what happened?
The White House says they were going off of what the Defense Department said. The Defense Department said there was a “glitch-ridden sequence of events,” including a premature announcement courtesy of the Pacific Command, and a false explanation from Defense Secretary James Mattis.
All of that, they say, contributed to the false narrative that we had an armada speeding towards North Korea in a grandiose show of force.
Really? That makes all the sense in the world.
Truthfully, officials don’t understand why the Defense Department didn’t issue a correction on its timeline of events regarding the movements of those ships. With Spicer and others actually answering questions about it, and the extreme tension of the situation, one would think they’d be as careful as possible about this.
Instead, it sounds like the White House is putting all the blame for this clusterfuck onto the Pentagon, which is par for the course when they’re either caught in a lie or something goes massively wrong.
Of course, some Trumpkins will believe that Trump was deliberately misleading all of Asia (sending them into a panic), as well as Russia and us, to trick North Korea into trying something or to surprise them later on. No doubt someone will say that’s brilliant.
And anyone who does say that’s brilliant (up to and including Trump himself, which isn’t far-fetched at all) has no idea what the consequences of that kind of a bluff could be. Regardless, we caused a panic both here and among our allies that didn’t need to happen, and risked a war over something very false.
The Trump administration had better get its act together where hostile foreign powers are concerned.
Featured image by Ron Sachs – Pool via Getty Images