As far as I am concerned, this week brought perhaps the most dangerous and destabilizing events in the presidency of Donald Trump, and it has been almost completely overshadowed by a cavalcade of news such as elections in Georgia and the Bill O’Reilly story.
But while many of us may be preoccupied, make no mistake the world is watching – and is worried. For over a week, the American people and the world were led to believe that the United States was sending an aircraft carrier strike force to the waters off of North Korea, in an escalating tension over the standoff with that troublesome nation over its nuclear and missile ambitions.
President Trump boasted about his show of force. “We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier,” he said. The National Security Advisor and the Secretary of Defense both reiterated the information. Except it wasn’t true. The carrier USS Carl Vinson and its accompanying ships were heading in the other direction, thousands of miles away.
How and why can this happen? There are no good explanations. Incompetence, deceit, a lack of communication? This is how wars can get started by accident. This is how allies can feel betrayed and adversaries emboldened. Our world is less stable today because of this situation. And this was supposed to be the relative area of stability within the Trump Administration – national security.
The fact that this has gone on for days is inexcusable. The world’s nations rely on being able to trust what an American president says, especially on an issue like this. More than anything else that has happened, more than the missile strike in Syria or even the worrisome congratulatory phone call to the increasingly dictatorial president of Turkey, this is a foreign policy debacle that is shaping world affairs in big ways. I hope you all take the time to read much of the fine reporting that has been done on this event. It is something we all should be talking and thinking about – a lot.