Last Thursday, President Trump told Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his top generals in a White House meeting that he wanted military options for North Korea at a “much faster pace.” Mattis urges military ‘to be ready’ with options on North Korea.
On Thursday evening, Trump with a group of military families and made a cryptic comment that this was “the calm before the storm.” What Did President Trump Mean by ‘Calm Before the Storm’?
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Mr. Trump summoned reporters who were still at work to the State Dining Room, where he was throwing a dinner for military commanders and their spouses.
Gesturing to his guests, he said, “You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.”
“What’s the storm?” asked one reporter.
“Could be the calm before the storm,” Mr. Trump repeated, stretching out the phrase, a sly smile playing across his face.
“From Iran?” ventured another reporter. “On ISIS? On what?”
“What storm, Mr. President?” asked a third journalist, a hint of impatience creeping into her voice.
When pressed to explain what he meant, Trump said: “You’ll find out.”
By Friday, the White House was still unable to shed light on the matter; several of Mr. Trump’s aides said they had no idea what the president meant. But the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, wanted to make one thing clear: Mr. Trump wasn’t just teasing his favorite antagonists. He was sending a message.
“I wouldn’t say that he’s messing with the press,” Ms. Sanders told reporters. “I think we have some serious world issues here. I think that North Korea, Iran both continue to be bad actors, and the president is somebody who’s going to always look for ways to protect Americans, and he’s not going to dictate what those actions may look like.”
Suddenly, Mr. Trump’s preprandial banter took on an ominous tone. Maybe he was foreshadowing war with North Korea, which he has already threatened with “fire and fury” if the reclusive country aimed its missiles at the United States. Or perhaps he was predicting a clash with Iran, a week before he is expected to disavow the nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
“He certainly doesn’t want to lay out his game plan for our enemies,” Ms. Sanders declared.
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What made Mr. Trump’s reference to the “calm before the storm” particularly tantalizing was the timing.
For weeks, he has promised to retaliate against any North Korean aggression toward the United States. When Mr. Tillerson spoke in Beijing last week about seeking diplomatic channels to the North, Mr. Trump followed up with a tweet that his chief diplomat was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” the president’s nickname for the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un.
Mr. Trump also faces an Oct. 15 deadline to recertify the nuclear deal with Iran that was negotiated among world powers during the Obama administration. He is expected to decline to recertify the agreement, which would essentially kick it to Congress to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions against Tehran.
But it is equally plausible that Mr. Trump was merely being theatrical, using the backdrop of military officers to stir up some drama. As the president spoke, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Paul J. Selva, stood next to him stoically.
Perhaps it is not Henry Kissinger, but his former boss, Richard M. Nixon, who is the president’s model. Nixon devised the “madman theory” of statecraft, under which he hoped to keep the nation’s foes off balance by persuading them that he was impulsive and unpredictable.
Asked whether Mr. Trump had adopted Nixon’s keep-‘em-guessing approach, Ms. Sanders said, “If you’re asking, is the president trying to do that? Absolutely. I mean, I don’t think that’s a secret.”
As for Mr. Trump, he seemed to savor the speculation. When a reporter asked him during a signing ceremony in the Oval Office what he meant by the “calm before the storm,” he winked, paused, and said, “You’ll find out.”
On Saturday, our Twitter-troll-in-chief Lunatic with nuclear codes may have just threatened to unleash Armageddon (yeah, Trump tweeted):
When the madman with the codes isn’t Kim Jong Un.
The president did not elaborate on what that “one thing” is. Trump on North Korea: ‘Sorry, but only one thing will work!’:
The president’s latest tweets come as the world continues to try to decipher another cryptic message that Trump issued on Thursday night at the White House, as he posed for a photo with the country’s top military leaders.
“You guys know what this represents?” Trump asked reporters in the room that night. “Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.”
When pressed to explain what he meant, Trump said: “You’ll find out.”
When pressed again on what he meant, Trump said: “Well, you’ll figure that out pretty soon.”
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Trump also said that he has “a very good relationship” with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, despite a report from NBC News this week that Tillerson has been deeply frustrated with the president and even referred to him a “moron” after a meeting at the Pentagon in late July.
“We have a very good relationship,” Trump said of Tillerson on Saturday. “We disagree on a couple of things. Sometimes I’d like him to be a little bit tougher, but, other than that, we have a very good relationship.”
Oh really? It was reported on Tuesday that our always insecure egomaniacal Twiteer-troll-in-chief Trump proposes ‘IQ tests’ faceoff with Tillerson after secretary of state calls him a ‘moron’:
President Trump proposed an “IQ tests” faceoff with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after the nation’s top diplomat reportedly called the president a “moron” and disparaged his grasp of foreign policy.
In an interview with Forbes magazine published Tuesday, Trump fired a shot at Tillerson over the “moron” revelation, first reported by NBC News and confirmed by several other news organizations, including The Washington Post.
“I think it’s fake news,” Trump said, “but if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.”
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview on Sunday that President Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.” Bob Corker Says Trump’s Recklessness Threatens ‘World War III’:
In an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, Mr. Corker said he was alarmed about a president who acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”
“He concerns me,” Mr. Corker added. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”
Mr. Corker’s comments capped a remarkable day of sulfurous insults between the president and the Tennessee senator[.]
It began on Sunday morning when Mr. Trump, posting on Twitter, accused Mr. Corker of deciding not to run for re-election because he “didn’t have the guts.” Mr. Corker shot back in his own tweet: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”
The senator, Mr. Trump said, had “begged” for his endorsement. “I said ‘NO’ and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement),” the president wrote. He also said that Mr. Corker had asked to be secretary of state. “I said ‘NO THANKS,’” he wrote.
Mr. Corker flatly disputed that account, saying Mr. Trump had urged him to run again, and promised to endorse him if he did. But the exchange laid bare a deeper rift: The senator views Mr. Trump as given to irresponsible outbursts — a political novice who has failed to make the transition from show business.
Mr. Trump poses such an acute risk, the senator said, that a coterie of senior administration officials must protect him from his own instincts. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Mr. Corker said in a telephone interview.
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All but inviting his colleagues to join him in speaking out about the president, Mr. Corker said his concerns about Mr. Trump were shared by nearly every Senate Republican.
“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” he said, adding that “of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”
Senate Republicans on Monday avoided weighing in on the war of words between President Trump and Sen. Bob Corker, and aides and allies of those lawmakers privately worried that a prolonged fight would hurt the GOP’s already threatened legislative priorities. After Trump-Corker flap, Hill Republicans choose a simple strategy: avoidance (that would be cowardice):
A day after Corker (R-Tenn.) and Trump traded some of the sharpest intraparty blows of the year, Republican senators were mostly quiet. Those who did speak did so obliquely — by praising Corker generally but steering clear of inserting themselves directly into the brutal clash.
The reaction highlighted the broader strategy Capitol Hill Republicans have adopted when it comes to the president’s tendency to wage rhetorical war against their own or incite other controversies: Don’t engage in public no matter how anxious they may be in private.
That approach grows riskier with each passing crisis — exposing congressional Republicans to culpability for the actions, some with potentially grave global consequences, of an unpredictable and contentious president.
“They should prepare to be the ones who shoulder the blame if Trump does something truly, absolutely catastrophic,” said Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist and vocal Trump critic. He later added: “They forgot what moral courage looks like.”
Because of the cowardice and complicity of GOP senators, our always insecure egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief is again attacking Sen. Corker on Tuesday. Trump mocks ‘Liddle’ Bob Corker,’ says senator was ‘made to sound a fool’.
This bizarre behavior by Trump led to this remarkable editorial opinion in the Arizona Republic. Our View: Want another Vietnam in North Korea? Trump may send us there (excerpt):
Our committed enemies may decide soon whether young Americans spend the next decade fighting and dying in distant lands.
The man-child dictator of North Korea is developing nuclear weapons designed to level major American cities. He is an overeager provocateur who has recently conducted six nuclear tests and launched two missiles over Japan.
Our man-child wannabe king “of the United States is answering him with cryptic messages that strongly imply America is about to invade North Korea.”
A moment of miscalculation on either side could place the United States in a land war on the Korean peninsula.
Trump is recklessly escalating things
Because war is unpredictable in ways that are usually disastrous, our young soldiers in South Korea could find themselves in combat with a million-man North Korean army that is fed a steady supply of Russian and Chinese arms.
There is no guarantee Chinese soldiers would stay on the sidelines. The last time we fought in Korea, we faced 1.3 million Chinese.
Those are the stakes riding with a president of the United States who proves by the day he’s a reckless and bumptious manager of geopolitics, thoroughly unequipped to make decisions that if mishandled could send young Americans to their deaths.
On Thursday, he stood with some of the country’s most important military leaders for a photo op in the Oval Office, and told the assembled media it was the “calm before the storm.”
This after he had already threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and kill its leaders.
It’s a daily struggle to contain Trump
We are becoming inured to the unfiltered rantings of President Donald Trump, but we’re now hearing the unfiltered warnings of more serious leaders in our government. Over the weekend, one of the most respected foreign-policy minds in the U.S. Senate gave his unvarnished judgment of the president.
Mr. Trump poses such a significant risk to the country, said Sen. Bob Corker, R.-Tenn., to the New York Times, that “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him.”
On Wednesday, Corker said three men — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly — “help separate our country from chaos.”
How can we stop the president?
Trump struck back, saying Corker has no guts to run for re-election. But Corker didn’t flinch. He said, “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”
A president of the United States who doesn’t read, cares nothing for what he doesn’t know, has no foreign-policy experience and an exaggerated view of his own abilities has put this nation in peril.
The North Koreans may turn from missile rattling to missile strikes and leave us no choice but war. But until then, we must try to resolve this peacefully.
Trump’s irreverent behavior that could sometimes amuse on the campaign trail is a threat to the nation when it frames policy in critical moments. We cannot allow him to continue conducting diplomacy by bombast and Twitter. This has to stop.
The editors correctly identify the problem — a man who is intellectually, emotionally and morally unfit to serve as president — something Americans knew and nevertheless enough voters in key states recklessly voted for him anyway. The editors do not propose any course of action for their clarion call that “this has to stop.”
Michelle Goldberg fills the void, correctly arguing that if Senator Bob Corker believes Donald Trump can’t be trusted with the power he holds, he should be trying to take that power away. Corker Told the Truth About Trump. Now He Should Act on It.
Corker’s expression of alarm is a reminder that we are teetering on the cusp of horror. He made it clear that Trump’s tweeted provocations of North Korea are impulsive rather than strategic. “A lot of people think that there is some kind of ‘good cop, bad cop’ act underway, but that’s just not true,” he said. We need to take seriously the possibility that Trump might cavalierly start a war that could kill millions of people. It would be a human calamity of inconceivable, history-bending scale, and it would leave America as a hated global pariah. Now that Corker has admitted that Trump cannot be trusted with the power he holds, he and other Republicans have no excuse not to try to take that power away.
Taylor, of the Niskanen Center, is in frequent contact with anti-Trump Republicans, and he senses a growing sense of urgency among them. “Having an unstable narcissist who is ignorant of politics, policy and foreign affairs with the nuclear codes has probably turned them white as a sheet,” he said. “There is some degree of serious responsibility that they fully realize that they hold.” If so, now would be a good time to show it.
What say you Senator McCain, Mr. “country first”? What say you Senator Flake, the self-annointed conscience of conservatism? Silence is consent. If you are going to defend America from the madness of King Donald, now would be the time to do it.