Trump is all atwit yet again.
Today’s object is U.S. national security and China. Here is his latest Saturday morning eruption.
Big Mouth Bellicose Trump with Signature Finger Pointing (November 2016)
We have no direct record of Trump’s visage as he tore out this opus magnum, but this picture may be is a fair approximation. Regard a prime visual example of Trump’s bellicose posturing. This one is from November 2015 when mere candidate Trump was ranting about Paris and bombing oil refineries in Iraq to fix ‘em. Good man Trump was only offering to save the French from their own weaknesses and deficiencies by bombing a third country. The iron-clad logic flow here is inescapable. How much sterner was his expression this morning as he felt compelled to weigh in on an American problem.
From a Politico story today:
Trump slams China’s seizure of U.S. drone in tweet
Donald Trump responded to China’s seizure of an unmanned U.N. Navy vehicle on Saturday, calling it an “unpresidented act” in an apparent typo.
“China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unpresidented act,” the president-elect tweeted Saturday morning.
Trump’s tweet came as the U.S. and Chinese militaries held discussions over the underwater drone, which was seized on Thursday off the coast of the Philippines.
Shortly afterward, a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman said that China was prepared to hand over the drone, according to CNN.
“Upon confirming that the device was a US underwater drone, the Chinese side decided to transfer it to the US side in an appropriate manner,” Sr. Col. Yang Yujun said in a statement.
“China and the United States have been communicating about this process. It is inappropriate — and unhelpful for a resolution — that the US has unilaterally hyped up the issue. We express our regret over that.”
Trump’s tweet came as the U.S. and Chinese militaries held discussions over the underwater drone, which was seized on Thursday off the coast of the Philippines.
The Pentagon confirmed later Saturday that China had agreed to return the drone.
“We have registered our objection to China’s unlawful seizure of a U.S. unmanned underwater vehicle operating in international waters in the South China Sea. Through direct engagement with Chinese authorities, we have secured an understanding that the Chinese will return the UUV [unmanned underwater vehicle] to the United States.” said Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary.
Cook on Friday demanded that China return the drone, which he said was “a sovereign immune vessel of the United States.”
“We call upon China to return our UUV immediately and to comply with all of its obligations under international law,” Cook said.
Cook described the drone as “an unclassified ‘ocean glider’ system used around the world to gather military oceanographic data such as salinity, water temperature, and sound speed,” which he said was in the middle of carrying out “routine operations in accordance with international law” when it was seized by a Chinese navy ship.
“It is understood that China and the United States are using military channels to appropriately handle this issue,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry told Reuters on Saturday.
So much for the direct unfiltered words, and an expressive face to match, of one Donald J. Trump, private U.S. citizen.
Trump insists on proving day by day with his recurrent Twits what can happen when the psychological profile of a 12-year old is frozen inside the intellectual reasoning framework of a 10-year old who is in turn trapped in an aging 70-year old body.
First, let’s be crystal clear. Trump is not the President-elect of the United States today. He can’t claim that honor, as a matter of incontrovertible fact, until after the Electoral College meets (December 19). That hasn’t happened in real life, however often he has already lived it in fantasy, So Trump is just John Q. Citizen running his huge mouth as we speak.
In point of fact, he has no standing, no authority, and no position in law or precedent (spelling?) to have anything to decide in the matter of this latest controversy. He has no power. Impatient as usual, Trump simply must butt in to hog the spotlight where he has no proper business.
As a secondary matter, this twitaholic knows virtually nothing about military affairs, foreign policy, diplomatic affairs, Defense Department tactics and capabilities, U.S. international intelligence gathering methods, oceanographic climate science research, or Asian geopolitics by study, training or business experience. He has already steadfastly refused numerous classified information and intelligence briefings form those who do know and practice these crafts (on which U.S. spends about $70 billion per year).
Finally, if Trump’s ill-considered twitful blurb should provoke further reaction, there is not one damn thing Citizen Trump can do about it. He is in no position to give orders or provide guidance to current Federal employees, and he doesn’t speak for America in any official capacity. Nobody in the Defense Department, State Department, National Security apparatus, or America’s Armed Forces will do a single thing he recommends today.
So Trump knows nothing, and has repeatedly refused help to get him up to speed. No, he just has to get his 2 cents worth noticed. Via an adolescent media platform which does not support serious adult level interactions about critical issues in any thoughtful way.
Trump appeals to the Id and limbic system izard brain; the most primitive, unthinking, and emotionally reactive human urges.
When there is a political confrontation, with potential military consequences between the United States and any foreign power, there is a solid American consensus tradition dating back decades that the President alone and only the President speaks for our country internationally, to give one unambiguous voice for all of us.
Republicans and Democrats both abide by this practical and sensible policy, even when they disagree (in the strongest terms) with the actions of the President. Our internal disagreements, which may be fundamental, are family matters, to be decided among ourselves, and not bandied about for cheap thrills or debating points in a public contest so someone looks tough on paper.
We don’t let our foreign enemies come between us and cloud the issues before America by sowing dissention in out own ranks. That makes us weak. Any sensible person already knows that, particularly when military options may be on the table. Apparently, this is somehow news to Trump.
In the good old days, to a replication of which Trump wants to return us, serious political leaders would regard his unwarranted interference as unpatriotic, ineffective, foolish, and even (dare the specter be raised) as veering towards the T-Word territory.
Even if Trump’s advisors prevail on him to fishtail this latest example of his arrogant ignorance sometime later today, he has damaged out nation’s credibility.
If Trump wants to change U.S. policy and military saber rattling threshold towards China, he may begin to do so (and good luck to him) on January 20th when he is finally in charge, hopefully with a somewhat less than empty information store on relevant topics than he exhibits at present. In the meantime, it would be better for America if he kept his Twit fingers in a glove and let those in actual legal charge do their jobs. We have only one Commander-in-Chief at a time.
Presumption, stubborn ignorance, overconfidence, and personal arrogance make a potent cocktail for screwing things up.
Even your average 12-year can do better than that, even without the Ivy League education Trump is always on about.
USNS Bowditch Port View (Trump is to the Left of Me)
Trump’s Poorly Considered Tweet
So, Trump went on another early morning twit stomp to express his unvarnished mood. He can’t spell. He was 36-hours out of date to react to the news, as the incident happened on Thursday. Trump woke up on Saturday raring to go. Full credit however, Trump did issue a spelling correction (at least his Twitter account staff monitors did).
Meanwhile the responsible adults in the room had already peaceably resolved the problem through established diplomatic and military channels. The U.S. gets back its property. No thanks to Trump.
Trump was slow on the uptake. He doesn’t know what he is talking about. He has no legal or moral standing to participate in the matter until after it is resolved. The problem was fixed without his so-called gut and opinion., and no need for any Trumpian deals His clumsy interference is unpatriotic and counter productive to U.S. interests abroad.
Quite a haul for one stupid Saturday morning 7 AM tweet.
Trump should go back to bed, and have a few more megalomaniac, fever dreams before he starts some real trouble for us.
The good news for adrenaline junkies is here’s looking at four more years of this stuff. After all, Trump will surely be Trump. There’s nothing he can do about it. He wouldn’t change if he could. And he doesn’t even recognize there is an impulse problem at work.
USNS Bowditch Starboard View (Trump is to the Right of Me)
A Plausible Alternate Explanation
From the Huffington Post article describing the underwater drone’s purpose:
The drone was collecting data about the salinity, temperature and clarity of the water about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay, off the Philippines, and was seized just as the USNS Bowditch was about to retrieve it, U.S. officials said.
One alternate theory is that Trump doesn’t know or care about some unclassified scientific climate data underwater drone 10,000 miles away from New York. He is, however, leery of the newest information that all U.S. intelligence agencies, including the FBI, now state unequivocally the Russian state actors interfered in our 2016 Presidential election with the specific purpose to help Trump.
That makes Trump’s prior dismissal of the intelligence conclusions, as recently as this week, based solely on his gut feeling and the chance there is a 400-pound hacker lurking in Jersey, look weak and self-serving. With a side order of exposing Trump’s complete ignorance of modern forensic cyber security means and methods of attribution. Just for the record, it has been reported that Trump doesn’t use a computer himself, and depends for his computer savvy (such as it isn’t) on son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has an amateur computer user’s knowledge at best.
It is entirely consistent with Trump’s style to dilute a bad, bad story with a bombastic fuss over something else unrelated. He’s done it before. It’s one of Trump’s favorite go-to moves when he is troubled or stuck.
The only possible way for this story to end is some sort of a clarificating non-clarification by the Trumpster surrogate mafia on tomorrow’s Sunday news shows. I’d bet money on Kellyanne, who serves up the very best informational nonsense goulash of all his staffers.
This could be followed later on Sunday afternoon, by Trump’s own self-congratulatory Twit that only his prompt, frank, forthright Saturday intervention cowed the Chinese into returning the drone, whereas American weakness would have just let the whole thing go.
Watch the nearest Twitter space for updates.
Aren’t we Americans so lucky indeed to have Big Daddy Trump around to solve our problems, all by his own self, like right now? Again.
God Bless America and Keep Her Safe. Even from Meddling Fool Politicians.
Selected Sources About the Latest Trump Twit on the U.S. Naval Drone:
*The T-Word should invoke a high degree of caution and reticence, much too infrequently exercised in 2016’s inflammatory political environment just past.
A highly potent word that must be used with exquisite care in describing conduct that may involve “adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort” (U.S. Constitution, Article III, section 3) or United States Code at 18 U.S.C. § 2381 which states “whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, .… adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty….”
Is the word outmoded in a modern democracy, or fallen out of favor in vigorous political discourse?
From a portion of the Wikipedia entry for the T-Word.
In English law, high treason was punishable by being hanged, drawn and quartered (men) or burnt at the stake (women), although beheading could be substituted by royal command (usually for royalty and nobility). Those penalties were abolished in 1814, 1790 and 1973 respectively. The penalty was used by later monarchs against people who could reasonably be called traitors, although most modern jurists would call it excessive. Many of them would now just be considered dissidents.
In William Shakespeare’s play King Lear (c. 1600), when the King learns that his daughter Regan has publicly dishonoured him, he says “They could not, would not do ‘t; ’tis worse than murder”: a conventional attitude at that time. In Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, the ninth and lowest circle of Hell is reserved for traitors; Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, suffers the worst torments of all: being constantly gnawed at by one of Lucifer’s own three mouths. His treachery is considered so notorious that his name has long been synonymous with traitor, a fate he shares with Benedict Arnold, Vidkun Quisling, Marcus Junius Brutus (who too is depicted in Dante’s Inferno, suffering the same fate as Judas along with Cassius Longinus). Indeed, the etymology of the word traitor originates with Judas’ handing over of Jesus to the chief priests, captains of the temple and elders (Luke 22:52): the word is derived from the Latin traditor which means “one who delivers.” Christian theology and political thinking until after the Enlightenment considered treason and blasphemy as synonymous, as it challenged both the state and the will of God. Kings were considered chosen by God. and to betray one’s country was to do the work of Satan.
In the 1790s, opposition political parties were new and not fully accepted. Government leaders often considered their opponents to be some sort of traitors. Historian Ron Chernow reports that Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and President George Washington “regarded much of the criticism fired at their administration as disloyal, even treasonous, in nature.” When an undeclared Quasi-War broke out with France in 1797-98, “Hamilton increasingly mistook dissent for treason and engaged in hyperbole.” Furthermore, the Jeffersonian opposition party behaved the same way. After 1801, with a peaceful transition in the political party in power, the rhetoric of “treason” against political opponents diminished. Vermont is the only U.S. state to have abolished capital punishment for all crimes except treason.
To avoid the abuses of the English law, treason was specifically defined in the United States Constitution, the only crime so defined. Article III, section 3 reads as follows:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
However, Congress has passed laws creating related offenses that punish conduct that undermines the government or the national security, such as sedition in the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts, or espionage and sedition in the 1917 Espionage Act, which do not require the testimony of two witnesses and have a much broader definition than Article Three treason. Some of these laws are still in effect. Some well-known spies have been convicted of espionage rather than treason.
The Constitution does not itself create the offense; it only restricts the definition (the first paragraph), permits Congress to create the offense, and restricts any punishment for treason to only the convicted (the second paragraph). The crime is prohibited by legislation passed by Congress. Therefore, the United States Code at 18 U.S.C. § 2381 states “whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.” The requirement of testimony of two witnesses was inherited from the British Treason Act 1695.
One of American history’s most notorious traitors is Benedict Arnold, whose name is considered synonymous with the definition of traitor due to his collaboration with the British during the American Revolutionary War. However, this occurred before the Constitution was written. Arnold became a general in the British Army, which protected him.
Since the Constitution came into effect, there have been fewer than 40 federal prosecutions for treason and even fewer convictions. Several men were convicted of treason in connection with the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion but were pardoned by President George Washington.
The Cold War saw frequent talk linking treason with support for Communist-led causes. The most memorable of these came from Senator Joseph McCarthy, who used rhetoric about the Democrats as guilty of “twenty years of treason.” As chosen chair of the Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee, McCarthy also investigated various government agencies for Soviet spy rings (see the Venona project); however, he acted as a political fact-finder rather than a criminal prosecutor. The Cold War period saw no prosecutions for explicit treason, but there were convictions and even executions for conspiracy to commit espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union, such as in the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case.