Monday, 17 April 2017 08:13

Trump's Russian scandal diversion takes US into "mother of all" risks

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kim putinPresident Donald Trump, recently, fired five-dozen rockets at an airfield in Syria that did little damage. Now, he’s dropped our biggest weapon short of a nuclear device, “The Mother of All Bombs,” on top of a tunnel in Afghanistan. The airfield strike told Assad that his house might be next; that Trump won’t hesitate to use a first strike option on another sovereign nation; and, that he’s willing to go eyeball-to-eyeball with the Russians who helped get him elected. That isn’t proof he didn’t sleep with the enemy, just that they’re no longer kissing.

The “Mother,” known as the GBU-43/B,  is so big that it takes a cargo plane to drop the 20-year-old weapon. The plane that got the honor of dropping it was an MC-130. It’s an updated version of the Lockheed Hercules that made its first flight just shy of 63 years ago, on August 23, 1954. By 2015 more than 2,500 Hercules and variants had been built. Maybe it’s time for a new plane.

Donald Trump, as part of his defense buildup, ought to drop some really big R&D money on defense contractors to start thinking up new aircraft and new weapons systems. He won’t still be President when they become operational, it takes that long, but he’ll get credit if the new weaponry works. This money can’t be expected to yield immediate results because thinking takes time, something the administration might ponder, itself, on occasion.

At the White House, Trump continues to dodge the Russian scandal that has engulfed his crew. Flurries of activity are good for the President in this regard. A bomb here, a bomb there, is a good distraction but sorties can’t put off the inevitable. Pushbacks on Vladimir Putin over Syria are, also, favorable to Trump but don’t serve to re-wire the myriad connections between his people and Russia during the election. Even his own CIA Director, Mike Pompeo, has read the tea leaves and spoken out forcefully against Russian interference.

The British claim they were on to the Russian connection, first, and then tipped off the U.S. Estonia, too, may have detected anomalous communications between the campaign and the Russians. Ditto, the Germans. Key Congressional leaders were briefed, personally, by Obama’s CIA Director, John Brennan after the Brits told him of Russian designs on the election. The line of people ready to say, “I told you so” is getting longer but the pregnant question is why was no one listening.

There is less need, this time around, to answer the question, “What did the President know and when did he know it.” Trump has told the entire country, over and over, what he’d gleaned from Wikileaks, virtually as it appeared, in real time. Pompeo has branded Wikileaks as a non-governmental extension of other state operators, including Russia. That’s a polite way to put it. Trump denies any electoral shenanigans but there’s a pile of fresh oyster shells at his feet. It doesn’t mean he ate them but it’s not too far-fetched to think that he did. 

The President’s attention, at the moment, is directed towards North Korea, an ancient enemy from a war we fought to a draw more than fifty years ago but never truly ended. The administration, it’s said, has a plan for a first-strike against Kim Jon-un if the young Dictator of the North keeps marching to a nuclear future and continues to threaten the U.S.  North Korea’s Kim has identified of Los Angeles as target thanks to a Sony Picture’s comedy about his fictitious assassination. It doesn’t matter that Sony is a Japanese company because a grudge isn’t worth anything if it makes sense.

The latest indications from Washington are that we won’t light up North Korea just yet. Hollywood can relax because the only person who’s interested in WWIII is Kim. His idiosyncratic leadership, however, isn’t likely to stop the inciteful rhetoric and, sometimes, that kind of talk can cause a war as sure as a shot. North Korea will test again, without a doubt, and each time it does Kim pushes the risk factor higher. The U.S. should begin to line up allies, even enemies, who know how dark the sun looks during a nuclear winter. It’s not his strong suit, but Trump needs diplomats now more than ever.


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